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Bonjour Brioche - insanity!

I've been to Bonjour Brioche many times....love their food but like many others on this site, realize the service is pretty hit and miss. Get this one. We were a party of 3 for lunch yesterday. One of the wait staff approaches us and says it only be a few minutes since a few tables were getting ready to leave. Fine - he shows us to a table for 2 and proceeds to explain, very nicely I must add, that because it is prime time for them they cannot afford to give us a table for 4 and have the one seat empty. And guess what, we bought in to it. Soooo we all squish in to a table meant for 2 and he brings us an extra chair to put along the side. Which I must add was cold and wet from being stored on the patio. Not only that, but they don't even have a coat rack or anywhere to put your coat. The banquettes were pretty crowded and you were basically left to bundle the coat on your lap. About 20 minutes go by and I happen to notice a single woman walk in - what does he do - puts her at a table for 2 - with one seat empty. I know I'm rambling here but honestly I just couldn't believe it. The thing is the food is so damn good it's like the can get away with anything. I mean they don't even accept debit or credit. Has to be cash only. Everytime I go there, I swear never again. But day after day, the place is packed. Is it just me?? Bottom Line - don't go to Bonjour Brioche unless you are a party of 2 or 4. Better yet, don't go at all.

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  1. I don't know why they're so popular and neither do my friends who live 1 block north of them. The food is good, the bread is great. But you can get just as good quality elsewhere in Toronto, with far less attitude.

    1 Reply
    1. God, I am so tired of cash only places in the GTA. I hate carrying cash on me. I wish these establishments would get with the 21st century. I'll happily pay a fee to be able to use debit or credit.

      1. +

        Bonjour Brioche
        812 Queen St E, Toronto, ON M4M, CA

        1. I've never been there... is there a counter for single diners? Because otherwise I'm not sure what the option is, other than make her sit on the floor in the corner because she doesn't have a friend. Or maybe invite one of your party to join her.

          4 Replies
          1. re: betsy

            Hi Betsy, no they don't have a counter. My point was that they made us, a party of 3 suffer because they didn't want to have an empty seat, only to have the same thing happen when they gave the deuce table to a party of one. In my opinion they should have given it to us - we were first and hopefully something would have opened up for her. Restaurants must come across this all the time. As a party of 3, I've never been forced to squeeze in to a table meant for 2 before - only at Bonjour Brioche!

            1. re: millygirl

              Hi Millygirl, I don't like BB, I was there once and I didnt think the food was good enough to put up with the awful service. However, from what you say, by doing what they did, they were able to seat 5 people, rather than 4. It's possible (although not ideal) to seat 3 people at a table for 2, however, if there is no bar, there are no other options for a solo diner, then to sit them at a table for two.

              1. re: pescatarian

                Hi pescatarian, yes I know in some establishments seating 3 at a deuce would be okay but believe me, not at BB. The tables are already on top of each other, not to mention the table beside us was in the same boat - 3 at a 2. So basically our 3rd seat was on top of their 3rd seat and as I said earlier the seat was cold and wet!! It takes a lot for me to complain especially when I'm being fed fab food but this was just really uncomfortable. AHaving said all that, I do understand where they are coming from and I probably will return for more great tarts, quiche and baguette. What can I say, I'm a sucker for punishment. Like rsvp7777 says, the product is good and they can get away with it!!!

              2. re: millygirl

                Yes, it looks the same, but not really, since now they had four people seated at two tables for two, which is what they want...

            2. I love Bonjour Brioche, because their food is so damn good. Okay, about 80% of the time I zoom in and out for takeout, but when I do decide I want to get waited on, I show up early. You just have to realize that when the place is crowded, it gets harder to get efficient service. If you've been there, you know how cramped it is for the servers to get through the line of take-out patrons with bowls of latte and plates full of food, especially when there's a crowd waiting at the door.
              I've never had snotty or impolite service there, but I will admit it can take a while when things are getting frantic.
              And yes, I wish they took credit or debit, too, but I'll cope with the cash-only thing because their product is worth putting up with a lot for.

              1. That's what you get when you go to a place so popular! I personally really enjoy BB, but I always make sure to go super early if I go on a weekend.

                1. Best bet: get a roast beef sandwich to go! YUMMY!

                  7 Replies
                  1. re: redearth

                    yeah, i went the other week to buy some brioches to go. it was quiet (around 3pm on a weekday) and there were 3 staff behind the counter. no one else was in line. 2 of the staff saw me and ignored me. the other one had her back to me. they were having a conversation and just kept going for 3-4 minutes. i got so annoyed i left. i know that i could have said something, but the fact that they didn't want to acknowledge me was embarrassing so i just decided to leave. how disappointing. i have enjoyed the food in the past, especially their pissaladiere.

                    1. re: pistachio peas

                      I've kind of had it with BB. A couple of weeks ago, I had a late start to my work day, and decided to treat myself to an early coffee and croissant... which I don't often get a chance to do on a work day. I went by and the doors were open, there were staff and a few customers inside, so I walked in and ordered a coffee and a croissant. The snarky counter guy rolled his eyes and said 'we don't open until 8', sighed and then proceeded to pour my coffee. I stopped and asked him why, if they're not open until 8, do they have the doors open and why have they started serving people. He just stared at me as if I was speaking a foreign language. I told him I'd had enough of their bad service and would rather grab a coffee from one of the other cafes on Queen East... I'd even head to Tim's. At least I'd get decent service. He rolled his eyes. I walked away. I'm done with BB.

                      But I still crave their baguettes.... :)

                      1. re: cfmcgrath18

                        What a jerk and good for you cfmcgrath18 for pointing it out!!!

                        1. re: cfmcgrath18

                          I can't imagine why anyone craves their baguettes, I haven't been to BB for two or three years since I now no longer live in the city. For the record, I can bake superior baguettes in my home oven. Why put up with lousy service!

                        2. re: pistachio peas

                          As you just mentioned pissaladiere I must tell you about Ma Maison near royal york and dundas, everything there is as good or better than BB but the service is better, OK they don't have much by way of seating, pretty much a take out place but everything is soooo good....

                          1. re: jiminy

                            If you like Ma Maison, you will love Patisserie St. Honore on Bloor St., between Royal York and Prince Edward. Great croissants and danishes. Beware though, if something is "on special" it is usually past its prime.

                            1. re: Marniee

                              but the croissants are incredibly forgiving. he packs those suckers so full of butter that even the already baked ones are preserved in its own fat!

                      2. Went there a week ago on the weekend with wife and 2 kids...not really the place to go if you are a party of more than 2. Pretty tight in there. Food was good, service a little slow...but you have to try it once.

                        3 Replies
                          1. re: Full tummy

                            Once is enough, so you can talk about it. And then, forget the place. A shame their stuff is so good but I, for one, don't want to encourage BB in their attitude. I'll wait until they move to a larger location.

                            1. re: cocolou

                              Well said but I fear with them it'd be larger space, more 'tude.

                        1. their service has always been snarky any time i've been there, and the food has been just alright. the only reason people rave about it is because it's in an otherwise fairly desolate area for decent french pastry.

                          1. I am completely over Bonjour Brioche. I live around the corner from BB and haven't been there in over six months and I won't ever darken their doorstep again.

                            I've had it with the mediocre food, the ratty tablecloths and never-changing menu. I've had it with the inconsistent pastries that lately, more often than not, are over-baked. I've had it with the young skids they hire to work there along with their nasty attitude - which seems to be endorsed by the owners. I've had it with the weekend slummers who come to my neighbourhood and look down at the locals (who don't dress up to pick up baguettes and croissants on Saturday mornings). There are too many better options in Leslieville now and Linda better figure out that BB's locally famous crappy attitude won't float anymore around here.

                            I feel much better for having said all that. Thank you.

                            10 Replies
                            1. re: seeldee

                              LOL, yes I forgot about the ratty tablecloths....they could definitely be tossed!! Very well put seeldee. Now, please tell me what better options you've discovered??

                              1. re: seeldee

                                While I agree with your comments about BB, I can't think of any better options within walking distance.

                                Brick Street's croissants are improving in their taste, but the one I had last weekend sagged in my hand and their baguettes are still inferior to BB's inconsistent ones. This kind of baking isn't Brick Street's strongest suit, and they don't have any eat-in space or any "real" food.

                                I don't know another place that serves BB-style food of similar quality, at a comparable price, and EVERYPLACE else around here is inconsistent also. Their patio is lovely on a warm weekday afternoon. But I won't go near BB for weekend brunch.

                                As to the service (which has been good infrequently and appalling often) and the lack of ventilation (and of air conditioning in summer), I just don't get it.

                                1. re: embee

                                  @embee and millygirl:

                                  I agree that Brick Street's croissants are not the best, nor is their baguette, but I've been switching up my habits and trying some of their other loaves as well as the delicious Epi breads carried at the Leslieville Cheese Market. It's my hope that things will improve at Brick Street since they really do go out of their way to be helpful and pleasant. And don't get me started on the Eccles cake addiction I've been cultivating...

                                  Regarding local places to eat, well, I'll collect stuff from around the 'hood and prepare brunch at home as often as we'll eat out. When we do have brunch, we go to Le Cafe Vert, Barrio, Ok Ok and Joy Bistro. Or we'll have dim sum at Pearl Court on Gerrard if we're craving a greasy fix. Let me mention that something remarkable has happened at Joy when it comes to breakfasts over the past year (I'm not endorsing their over-priced lunch and dinner options): they're good! Savoury, well-proportioned and consistently prepared plates have won me back after avoiding the place for a long time. What a positive change from a couple of years ago. I still won't go to Joy for dinner, though - what an overpriced racket they're running!

                                  I guess what I might not be articulating clearly is that I'd rather not support local businesses that treat their clients with disdain, regardless of what's on offer. The menu at BB is not so special that it warrants tolerating such indifferent or poor service and inconsistent quality of product. And no, I'm not a demanding customer, just observant to what is going on around me.

                                  Although I have never had a truly unpleasant experience at BB, like Millygirl recently had, I've witnessed so many instances of nasty attitude directed at other diners/shoppers that I just cannot justify giving BB my business any longer. I've left upset or angry too many times. People should never be treated that way. Ever. Also, I haven't been to BB for a weekend brunch in several years - strictly a weekday bruncher here - so I can only imagine how negative it must be there on weekends.

                                  Have either of you had brunch at Fare yet? I keep forgetting to try them out since the restaurant changed hands last year.

                                  Apologies for the very long reply guys! I've been a lurker here for too long and Millygirl's post was upsetting enough for me to break my silence, ha ha.

                                  1. re: seeldee

                                    Seeldee, I completely agree with you. I don't understand the allegience to a place that treats their customer so poorly. I don't think their food is so fantastic, not that it would merit such treatment if it were.
                                    If you don't mind travelling a bit east every once and awhile, you can also enjoy brunch at Pomegranate or ViVetha in the Beach(es).

                                    1. re: seeldee

                                      Seeldee, I've been to Fare for dinner...twice. It was very disappointing both times. First time they'd just opened so we went back a few months later to give them another chance. Even worse!!! I felt really badly because I so wanted to like this place and they did a great job on the reno. The room is very cozy but the service is worse than bad. Real shame if you ask me.

                                      1. re: millygirl

                                        Millygirl, I'm really sorry to hear that about Fare.

                                        Pescatarian, my partner and I usually have breakfast at the Sunset Grill if we're out in the Beach in the morning. I don't know what the name of the magic florescent pixie dust is that the Sunset Grill puts on the potatoes (probably killing me slowly) but it satisfies a craving. We'll have to make a point of trying Pomegranate Or ViVetha. Thanks for the tip!

                                        1. re: seeldee

                                          does this pixie dust happen to have a yellow flourescence to it?

                                          1. re: pinstripeprincess

                                            Oh yes, the florescence is, indeed, yellow.

                                            1. re: seeldee

                                              there is a diner type place in kingston that served wickedly addicting frozen fries with yellow flourescent powder all over it. two bites in i called it out as dry chicken bouillion in an ungodly amount. i cannot imagine the amount of salt/msg i likely consumed during my years there.

                                              does this sound like your pixie dust?

                                            2. re: pinstripeprincess

                                              Oh yes, the florescence is, indeed, yellow. Deadly yellow.

                                  2. I was planning a get-together with two old college friends last week. One was visiting Toronto from B.C., and she was staying in the east end so i thought Bonjour Brioche would be a handy place to meet her at 10:30 am. I'd been there a number of years before, and mentioned my suggestion to my wife. She checked on Chowhound, read the unsavoury reviews and suggested i choose somwhere different. I decided to go with my original instinct. When I arrived, a pony-tailed waiter (nothing against the hair, just a descriptive point of reference) was outgoing and extremely pleasant. He found us a table for 4. I wanted to call my wife and tell her everything was good, but I didn't. The waiter looking after us (short-haired) was abrupt, ever so cool and never cracked a smile. We ordered, and ate. the bill was $50 including tip. The food was good, but not worth the big bucks we paid. Around 11:30, the place was getting crowded. A woman (seemed like an owner) kept checking us out. I could feel the big push to get us to vacate, so I asked her for our bill. We paid (yes, cash only), and she barely cracked a thank-you smile. I smiled, said thanks and will never go back. I'm sure they don't care.

                                    1 Reply
                                    1. re: menomineegal

                                      ...and the place is still packed! Obviously, they're getting the message.