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Light & Crispy Paris-Style Baguettes in Toronto?

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I was in Paris many years ago and LOVED the type of baguettes they had everywhere there - fluffy inside with a nice crispy crust.

Most of the baguettes I've had in Toronto are more like a long loaf of bread with heavy doughy bread inside. I like Ace baguettes but to me they really fall into the "loaf of bread" category.

QUESTION

Does anyone know where I can get "Paris style" baguettes in Toronto?

Any help would be greatly appreciated!!!!!!!!!!

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  1. Though I'm not a huge fan of his restaurants, I've heard from friends that Thuet's baguettes are pretty good (I'm unable to sample them myself).

    1 Reply
    1. re: tjr

      Just got a baguette from Thuet's today, very crispy crust and soft fluffy inside... the best baguette I have had in a long time. MajorSlick I think this is where you want start your search for your baguette.

    2. the closest i've had are Fred's baguetes
      better than ace or any other boutique baguette

      4 Replies
      1. re: CoffeeAddict416

        ditto find Freds to be much better for their baguettes over ACE
        Also for a crispy outside and soft fluffy inside, the pale .99cent storebrand baguettes that come in the clear plastic thrown into the over for a few mins might do the trick, I have found they crust doesn't go 'soft' as ACE or Fred's tends to.

        Every time i try to grab some bread from thuet's they are out of baguettes (unless you get a sandwich) but in general all the loaf breads I have gotten from them have been top notch i am sure this holds true for their baguettes.

        On a side note, I don't know they exact term.
        but while in Belgium and france I had narrow shorter baguettes they use to make lunch sandwiches. does anyone know were I can source some baguettes like this? (they are about half the width of a 'standard' (ace/freds/storebrand) baguettes and perfect for lunch time. very similar (but more crispy) to the long narrow bread they use for some sandwiches @ le gourmand

        1. re: flying101

          Jules on Mt. Pleasant has a shorter/thinner version baguette, as well as regular sized one. I prefer the multigrain one, which is a bit more dense.

          1. re: flying101

            You may be describing the shape known as the ficelle. It is literally translated from the french as 'string'. I know ACE use to make this shape in there white baguette dough many years ago. They may still. The last time I saw this shape in Toronto was when I purchased Bonjour Brioche's Roast Beef Sandwich a couple years back.
            Hope this helps.

            1. re: CheddarCheese

              The main ACE bakery up in the Lawrence and Keele area still sells the ficelles. Luv them but unfortunately they're not available in many places.

        2. cafe thobor on mount pleasant may do the trick: www.thobors.ca/

          WON
          http://whatsonmyplate.wordpress.com

          1 Reply
          1. re: wontonfm

            I frequent Thobor all the time (just bought two loafs today on my way to get some fish n chips for lunch)

            there baguettes are shorter, but not very crusty on the outside. still tasty.

          2. Pain Perdu on St. Clair West.

            15 Replies
            1. re: acd123

              I diagree. Great pastries, but not very good baguettes. Alas, as far as I know, there are no Parisian baguettes in Toronto. President's Choice makes one that is not bad, as does DT Bistro.

              -----
              Dessert Trends
              154 Harbord St, Toronto, ON M5S, CA

              1. re: toveggiegirl

                Uh, not sure what you are talking about but there are several bakeries in Toronto that do a competent baguette.

                Thobors, Jules, La Cigogne to name just a few...

                1. re: Splendid Wine Snob

                  I agree that the bakeries above are excellent, but I find that there is a bit more of a chew to the crumb. For the style of baguette that the OP is looking for, I think Rahier may be a better bet. The crust is crisp, but not thick and the crumb is very light and fluffy.

                  It's not my personal preference; I think Thobors' baguettes are superior.

                  -----
                  Rahier
                  1586 Bayview Ave, Toronto, ON M4G, CA

                  1. re: sloweater

                    I find it weird when people post about "Parisian" style baguettes-the ones I had in Paris vary [stylistically] all over the map!

                    Thobors sesame seed baguette may be more to the OP's preference-it is crispier and lighter than the regular version.

                    1. re: Splendid Wine Snob

                      I agree! When I lived in Paris I found that the baguettes varied enough between patisseries... and don't even get me started about the baguettes at the supermarket!

                      WON

              2. re: acd123

                someone else mentioned pain perdu as hit and miss but it used to be a hit always with me... well it's been a few months and i picked up on yesterday and it looked awful!

                very smooth not so crusty exterior and tiny tiny bubbles inside only. it's quite dense... any idea what's up?

                1. re: pinstripeprincess

                  I don't know -- I've been trying to like their baguette for a couple of years with no luck (they are right around the corner from me so it's convenient). Somehow they sell out by the end of the day. I don't know how. It's really quite terrible baguette and given how great their other pastries are...well, it is perplexing.

                  1. re: Arcadiaseeker

                    my experience with them had always been a good crisp exterior, nice large bubbles on the inside with a slightly chewy interior but really good flavour that always seemed a bit buttery to me in richness but could find no other words to describe it as there's definitely no butter. plus a nice tang of salt and yeast.

                    i would eat nearly a whole baguette in the car as we left... i don't know what's going on with the last one i picked up. i would certainly not call them terrible but perhaps this is the consistency one person alluded too as i'm not often in the area.

                    1. re: pinstripeprincess

                      PSP,

                      Based on your description of the ultimate baguette, I think you would enjoy the house made baguettes at Tati Bistro on Harbord. Don't know if its your kind of place but I think you will like the bread. If you try it, please report back.

                      SWS

                      1. re: Splendid Wine Snob

                        my ultimate baguette style bread in a restaurant thus far is batifole... any direct comparisons with tati and them? just out of curiousity.... though sometimes i've had batifole do a bang up job of burning the crap out of it so it's not always perfect there.

                        thanks so much for the suggestion either way. i've been curious about tati (the one time i tried to go they had a private party) and good tasty bread is always a draw. maybe chabichou (tati owns this right?) might have it regularly available for home use..... ah! it's worth the bike ride to find out.

                        1. re: pinstripeprincess

                          Its been a long, long time since I went to Batifole (now coming on 2 years) so I can't do a direct comparison unfortunately. I've never had burnt bread at Tati.

                          The food is solid at Tati but they suffer from service issues when its really busy. If Sahara is there, things seem smoother. It can also get extremely noisy-that doesn't bother me (as long as I'm in the mood for noisy), but I know some people have complained about it on CH. Some of the better dishes I've had there include the Pickerel Meuniere and the rabbit.

                          Yes, the chef at Tati (Laurent) owns Chabichou. Unfortunately, I've not tried it yet even though its literally a hop away from me-I'm quite loyal to Nancy's Cheese on Dupont. Its possible that he carries his baguettes there-your best bet is to call.

                          SWS

                          1. re: Splendid Wine Snob

                            The baguette at Chabichou, as well as the various pastries, are from Jules on Mount Pleasant. Does this mean Tati's is also? Not sure.

                            Despite your loyalty to the other place, you should give then a try. They also carry house made sausages (merguez, andouillettes, boudins, etc.) and sell some prepared foods (large mason jar of fish soup for $8). And state of the art grilled cheese.

                            1. re: Snarf

                              Oh-well that's good to know-they told me that the baguette was "house made" at Tati, so I'm not sure if that means their own recipe or perhaps they purchase the dough from Jules and then bake it in house? Thinking about it now, it did have a similar texture/flavour to the baguettes I've had at Jules.

                              I will give Chabichou a try-thanks Snarf.

                              1. re: Splendid Wine Snob

                                so i just picked up a baguette from chabichou and if they're the same as jules then that's good to know... i don't think i've ever picked up a baguette from jules.

                                but.... while the crust was exceptional (good crunch with reasonable shattering, salty, sweet, rich) the interior was very disappointing. it lacked in elasticity and had a fairly tight crumb with only a couple small bubbles here or there. it was sweet and not much else and the softness was a bit reminiscent of typical white bread. i would be happy to eat those crusts any day and scoop out the center.

                    2. re: Arcadiaseeker

                      Arcadiaseeker, I entirely agree.

                2. Ma Maison on Dundas St in etobicoke

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: Love it Spicy

                    love ma maison!

                    we came back from paris addicted to baguettes and french pastries. we go to MM to get our usual fix. definitely the closest we've found to paris!

                    http://www.ur2busy2cook.com/store.php

                    1. re: lilaki

                      Does Ma Maison have a cafe area? My sis in law is from France and it would an awesome experience to take her here for breakfast.

                  2. my french neighbours gave me one from pain quotidien -- it was definitely better than most I've had in t.o. i absolutely love pain perdu but i find their baguette to be hit and miss - often overcooked and too dry.

                    1. hey, just my two cents, i have always found the baguette they use at all the Viet sandwich places ie. bahn mi , maybe exactly what you are looking for. Lots on Spadina but mostly all over GTA. per baguette is no more than .40 if i remember. they sell baguettes separately ,but if you have never tried the Viet subs , bahn mi , do yourself a favor, try the different configurations........hhhmmmmmmm viet subs ...very addictive..lol

                      5 Replies
                      1. re: eliisadick

                        I'm a huge plain baguette snob and I find the Bahn Mi places have the closest to cripy regular baguettes as well. And none of that sourdoughy-ness (levain - which ironically is all the rage in Paris now) that many baquettes here have.

                        1. re: Sui_Mai

                          This sounds intriguing, Sui Mai -- can you recommend any good places to pick some up? Preferably downtown or centrally? Thanks!

                          1. re: Arcadiaseeker

                            My favorite place is gone (Co Yen). But in the same block, west side of Spadina 1 block (or 2?) south of Dundas there are at least 3 Viet takeout/bahn mi places. I don't know the name but it it is the one with the green awning furthest north. Sorry, for the lame directions but I'm sure any of these places are pretty decent for crispy buns.

                            1. re: Sui_Mai

                              thanks!

                              1. re: Arcadiaseeker

                                I one-hundred percent agree - the best bread/buns i've had in the city shockingly come from chinatown.

                      2. Best I've found in the city are at Hot Oven bakery, Bloor W. at Runnymede. Too good!

                        1. My absolute favourite bread is from Ferraro 502 (at 502 Eglinton West, between Spadina and Avenue rd). Although it's usually the stuff they give away before your meal, I believe they also sell it by the loaf, if you ask nicely. Quite likely the only bread I prefer to mum's homemade.

                          1. has any one tried bagettes from Bonjour Brioche? I was there the other day and they looked pretty good.

                            2 Replies
                            1. re: haggisdragon

                              haggisdragon, I've tried baguette at Bonjour Brioche. Probably my favourite in Toronto. Tasty, crisp, substantial without being overly doughy... yum.

                              1. re: Yum2MyTum

                                Thanks Yum, good to know. I'll give it a try.

                            2. I live in the West end of Toronto and I get my baguettes from Artisano bakery (On Islington, south of Bloor) and on the weekends, the Cheese Boutique sells all types of baguettes from local bakers, including Celestin and Thuet. yummmmmmy!

                              1. In my opinion the best baguette is made at Celestin on Mt Pleasant. Last I checked All the Best was selling them on certain days.

                                3 Replies
                                1. re: BigNerd

                                  Celestin or Thobors?

                                  1. re: Snarf

                                    You're right - I didn't realize they called the bakery Thobors. I typically always found them at all the best and found the quality extremely high.

                                  2. re: BigNerd

                                    What about Rahier's? How do they compare? My test is whether the baguette is soft enough to break in the middle, if your grip is too hard, while climbing the many stairs to your apartment at Montmarte...(among other qualities)

                                  3. Petite Thuet has exactly what you are looking for. its SO light and has a perfect crust. they're $3 each and worth the drive if you are not in the area. pick up some macarons while you are there too!

                                    1. I took my sis in law who grew up in France to Ma Maison and she loved it!! She was thrilled to find a bakery that made brioche, tarts, croissants etc that reminded her of home. We tried pan au chocolat, an apricot tart, an apple tart, and plain croissants for breakfast. It was a group of three and we ordered tea, coffee and cafe au lait as well.

                                      It is a very cosy restaurant and they have 2-3 tables set up outside but it was a chilly day and we didn't want to sit outside.

                                      I really liked the food and she loved it. She said she will come back to try their desserts whenever she has a dinner party. I have to say that the cafe au lait there was one of the best.

                                      1. Parisian baguettes are generally pre-made industrially, frozen and shipped to "bakeries" for cooking. Which results in that HORRIBLE cottony inside and cardboard crispy crust. Not to mention the preservatives, sugar, flavouring, and processed and refined ingredients. I'm sorry you think this is the genuine article! President's choice is a version of this. Ick.

                                        Only the two dozen or so "boulangeries artisanales" in Paris still make their own dough. These are the authentic baguettes that were available 20-30 years ago. Ace (good) and Tati (best) emulate these quite well.

                                        Note that the bread in France is always much better in the countryside. The current fad in France is currently Paul, a.k.a. the Starbucks of bread. "Industrial artisans" (!)... Better than the frozen cardboard but still, best to look for the genuine article..

                                        2 Replies
                                        1. re: neoplop

                                          Is Paul really that industrial? or is it just because they have American-style service that you write them off like that. Here's a shot of Rue de Buci Paul in St Germain.

                                           
                                          1. re: Sui_Mai

                                            You are really making me miss Paris with that photo, Sui Mai! Especially on Bastille Day. And although Paul's baguettes were not the best, they are far superior to any baguette I've had in Toronto.

                                        2. The only 'real' baguette I've had in Canada was found in the Distillery area.
                                          The small shop is called A Taste of Quebec. It's across from a bakery. The focus in the shop is cheese ...lovely cheese. I saw a small basket of baguettes on the counter where you pay. I don't trust baguettes - knowing that their texture and taste will disappoint. I won't eat them.
                                          This one was real. I bought a bit of cheese, sat outside to eat it, and truly enjoyed. Bliss.
                                          I will go back.

                                          3 Replies
                                          1. re: CanadianRose

                                            Correct me if im wrong but I do not think they make tehir own breads... or do they?

                                            1. re: OnDaGo

                                              They might. They are working with Chef J.P. Challet (formerly of the Fifth and Le Select).

                                              1. re: toveggiegirl

                                                Right but there is no bakery attached to the store correct? and I have not heard that JP is making bread for other places so to have an offsite bakery just for that one store does not seem practical...

                                          2. really suprised I havent seen this suggestion yet. EPI is a great bakery that is run out in North York, the baker himself is a classically trained french baker who has come to canada in the past 10 years. the only place I know that carry their bread downtown is Leslieville Cheese (both locations), the way i describe it to my friends is "like ace baguettes when they were good 10 years ago". also the crossaints are fantastic. much much better than freds, theut, ace.......although this ma maison does sound like it might be worth the mission.

                                            1 Reply
                                            1. re: bittles

                                              Epi Breads can be found in many places. Meat on the Beach carries them as does Fresh & Wild, and Alex Farm. I agree, their baguettes are quite good.

                                              http://www.epibreads.ca/

                                              -----
                                              Epi Breads
                                              1526 Bayview Ave, Toronto, ON M4G, CA

                                            2. My vote and recommendation will go to Rahier on Bayview just south of Eglington. Francois Rahier's classic baguettes are near perfect - right texture, air pockets, and crisp crust. I would pick up some local heirloom tomatoes from Passion Fruit (across from Rahier), some stinky cheese from Alex Farm (next door to Rahier) and a Rahier baguette and sit on one of the tables outside for a perfect breakfast.

                                              1. Bread will never have the same taste from one place to another, even less from one country to another. It has to do with the flour and - mainly - with the water they use.

                                                1. le pain quotidian is by far the closest thing to a real french baguette (i lived in france for 2 years). It is crispy on the outside, a bit of a buttery/salty taste, and fluffy on the inside, not too thick!

                                                  others i've tried that were not better:
                                                  Thuet (the bakery)
                                                  Pain Perdu
                                                  Epi
                                                  ACE (yuk)
                                                  Fred's

                                                  1. I just returned from a stay in Paris and am looking trying to find a decent approximation of a Paris baguette.

                                                    I bought two baguettes from Petite Thuet and was surprised to find a dense thick interior that tasted strongly sour. It was also burned black in spots. They are rather disappointing and bear no resemblance to anything I ate in Paris, and I ate a lot of baguettes in a variety of places.

                                                    I called the bakery and asked about it, and was told that all of their baguettes are sourdough, because that is the "traditional French style" and that it "confuses a lot of people." The tone was rather dismissive, like I am just another idiot who doesn't understand the intricacies of French bread. That may be so, but the thing is, had I not just returned from France and eaten bread nothing like what Thuet serves, I would not have questioned their bread at all.

                                                    I have loved everything I have eaten at Thuet previously and I will return for non-baguette items, but I am perplexed on where to turn now in my search for a baguette.

                                                    Can someone with French bread knowledge comment on this? If I go to Celestin, Pain Perdu and the other bakeries mentioned in this thread, will I also find very sour loaves? Why this difference? Is the bread commonly served in Paris these days not "traditional French bread?"

                                                    -----
                                                    Celestin
                                                    623 Mount Pleasant Road, Toronto, ON M4S 2M9, CA

                                                    Pain Perdu
                                                    736 St Clair Ave W, Toronto, ON M6C, CA

                                                    Petite Thuet
                                                    1 King St W, Toronto, ON M5J, CA

                                                    16 Replies
                                                    1. re: basileater

                                                      First off, you are right, no one in France does sourdough. Second, while there is a lot of variability in the baguette in Paris, what is most common in the corner boulangerie is the cardboard outside and fluffy cottony inside baguette. This is made from frozen dough delivered to the bakery from commercial sources. While this is maybe what you had and while you might have enjoyed it, it is for the French the equivalent of Wonder bread. A gourmet baguette is much heavier. ACE is the perfect approximation of what is made by "Artisan Boulangers" in Paris. No one says you have to love a Chateau Margaux. You are entitled to enjoy Ontario wines... ;)

                                                      1. re: neoplop

                                                        Recently, in Toronto, I enjoyed something very close to a good French baguette. Had to fight, with the teeth, to take bites of the centre. Crust was the crust. The centre spoke of France. I was at a luncheon so don't know where it was sourced, but I might just ask. One never forgets the taste or the texture.

                                                        1. re: neoplop

                                                          Have to express some disagreeableness here. Celestin has sold out and separated their bread operations some time ago. Thobors is the former baker, with his own very decent breads. Good baguette. Jules, 20 meters south, also does excellent baguettes.

                                                          I wouldn't put Ace on the list anymore. They have sold out to Loblaws, which has led to mass distribution of frozen and uncooked dough to local shops with mixed results. Big airholes.

                                                          Thuet does nice breads, but I wouldn't rank his baguettes that highly.

                                                          -----
                                                          Celestin
                                                          623 Mount Pleasant Road, Toronto, ON M4S 2M9, CA

                                                          Thuet
                                                          609 King St W, Toronto, ON M5V1M5, CA

                                                          Thobors
                                                          627 Mt Pleasant Rd, Toronto, ON M4S, CA

                                                          1. re: Snarf

                                                            Big airholes is what makes the difference between a baguette moulée (molded--risen in a cake pan) and non-moulée (risen on a flat surface). In my opinion, Loblaws or not, Ace still gets it right. The airholes are supposed to be there, and give it genuine texture.

                                                            1. re: neoplop

                                                              There is a difference between airholes that are subtle, and humongous air blisters, which leave you with an empty shell of bread suitable to stuff a turducken in, but completely inappropriate for trying to use in a relatively normal sliced bread application.

                                                              1. re: Snarf

                                                                Yes, the "humongous" air blisters are a feature of baguette non-moulée. Think Swiss cheese. The smaller air bubbles are in baguette moulée.

                                                                1. re: neoplop

                                                                  I don't think you're getting it. No baguette should be mostly hollow. Swiss cheese is not the analogy. Shell is.

                                                          2. re: neoplop

                                                            But ACE baguettes, even before they sold out, were not extremely sour either, so you have not addressed the question neoplop. You also incorrectly assume both that I ate only in cheap corner bakeries and that I wanted nothing better.

                                                            I did some research and there are a variety of things that can lead to the starter becoming overly sour. Possibly this is what happened. The bread was also burned, the second loaf even more so than the first. I've heard of Parisian bakeries sticking foreigners with burnt bread as a joke. Perhaps that is part of Petit Thuet's "traditional French" approach! Très charmant!

                                                            1. re: basileater

                                                              Ace's _organic_ baguettes are sour. The regular Ace baguettes are not.
                                                              Not sure how I did not address your question--a request for "a decent approximation of a Paris baguette."
                                                              There is no single thing as "a Paris baguette". There are dozens of different styles of making them. Since you actually did not _describe_ what you had in Paris, I assumed nothing. I described what you could possibly have had there, nothing more.

                                                              1. re: neoplop

                                                                I believe Thuet's bread is the traditional "Alsatian Sourdough", the way his family used to make it. I am no expert in France, but I would say it's a "stretch" to say no one in FRANCE does sourdough. Having visited Alsace, culturally, they are much different from Parisians - of course due to the fact that they were once a German region! I agree the "crumb" is an important aspect of baking. Premier Moisson, sold at Metro, is pretty good for those of us who can't make the trek or don't have a local boulangerie nearby.

                                                                -----
                                                                Thuet
                                                                609 King St W, Toronto, ON M5V1M5, CA

                                                                1. re: Apprentice

                                                                  Thuet has boasted that his 200 year old sourdough starter from Alsace was smuggled into this country. In the same article (Toronto Life) he claimed to have no success until he found the right flour, from Arva flour mill (London, Ont.)

                                                                  -----
                                                                  Thuet
                                                                  609 King St W, Toronto, ON M5V1M5, CA

                                                                  1. re: Apprentice

                                                                    I apologize. Like most Parisians, I think of France as Paris. Then again, most French people don't consider Alsace part of France. The Germans certainly don't. ;)

                                                            2. re: basileater

                                                              I have never had a sourdough baguette in France - and it's always perplexed me why it's all sourdough here. Pain Perdu does not use sourdough but in my view their baguette is not good. Too thin, overcooked and dry and cardboard like in flavour. All their other baking is lovely - just not the bread sadly.

                                                              -----
                                                              Pain Perdu
                                                              736 St Clair Ave W, Toronto, ON M6C, CA

                                                              1. re: Arcadiaseeker

                                                                as a supporter of pain perdu in this thread, i want to note that the heavenly experiences i had no longer exist and the product they offer is awful. this change has been in effect for at least a year.

                                                                1. re: pinstripeprincess

                                                                  Really? Are you just talking baguette or other products too?? I was hoping to pick up a quiche for a potluck this weekend.

                                                                  1. re: Arcadiaseeker

                                                                    sorry, just baguette... assumed would be implied based on thread topic. i haven't had much outside of their baked goods.