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Feb 24, 2010 05:29 PM

Pastries from Patisserie Monaco at Loblaw's St Clair Market - good quality, low price point

I don't know how long Patisserie Monaco has been supplying the St Clair Market - and for all I know, other Loblaw's stores, with patisserie - but I have been pleasantly surprised at both their tastiness and their value for $.

Their spiked lemon meringue tart has a not too sweet lemon curd topped by spiked Italiam meringue - with a very pleasant and quite "short" crust. Their opera is redolent of a deep coffee flavour, not too cloyingly sweet.

I find these products the equal of or even better than Toronto's more renowned establishments - and they sell at around $2.49 - $1 to $1.50 less than the competition.

Don't know how they do it - possibly their Richmond Hill location results in lower overhead ?

Anyone tried their pastries and have opinions ?

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  1. Really? I've always thought of Patisserie Monaco as being a pretty plain "Hotel dessert" kind of thing. The last lemon tart of theirs I tried had a soggy crust, and weaping meringue and didn't have that sort of smooth but tangy lemon curd taste that is so great, but was just sharp and overly sweet.

    Isn't the place dessert factory-esque ?

    6 Replies
    1. re: FoodJourno

      I tried a couple of their desserts, was not happy at all, infact i even complained to the bakery at the loblaws in etobicoke, and the lady herself said they are shit, and there have been a lot of complaints. She said if enough people complain they will switch back to La rocca.

      1. re: chillihigh

        Oh gosh, I'm going to complain then. Nothing looks appetizing anymore.

        1. re: chillihigh

          I talked to a woman at the bakery in Forrest Hill Loblaws and she told me that a lot of customers are complaining about this product. It's actually more expensive that FoodJourno wrote, I think they are $3.79/slice but they are always on sale for half-price because they are having trouble moving them before the expiration date. IMO, La Rocca products are much better.

          1. re: toveggiegirl

            I don't think you mean me about the pricing, but is LaRocca really better? It's all just stabalized whipped cream mousse cakes made with brought in ingredients that already have an ingredient list longer than my arm.

            I think the one thing we all can agree is that we need better, I've found that all major cake makers have fallen so far. I'm talking about the Dufflets, LaRocca's, Patisserie Monaco's, etc, etc.


            1. re: FoodJourno

              Oops, you're right. I mean Bigtigger about the pricing. I am not saying LaRocca is fabulous, just that Monaco's is worse. I agree that it seems much harder to get a decent cake these days but maybe the lesson here is that the best place to buy cake is not the grocery store.

              1. re: FoodJourno

                Yes, LaRocca cakes are not super-fabulous creations, but with certain friends and family members, they are just fine, and many people like them. They're convenient to purchase, and the price is reasonable. I know I can spend double or more on a much better cake elsewhere, but, truth be told, I'm not sure most people would doubly appreciate it.

        2. We've bought them a few times and think we'll stop now. The cranberry, coconut, mango cheesecake has a soggy crust and last week, the crust was slightly over baked, resulting in a bad taste. The individual cakes are always near expiration and not very fresh. They are quite bland in our opinion. I don't like how they don't have expiry or date made on their products. You have to ask the staff, and most times, they don't even know. I prefer La Rocca as well. Baker Street desserts can be hit or miss. They discontinued the one that I really liked, the hazelnut cake, it's replaced with something totally different now. I wrote a letter to Patisserie Monaco, surprise, surprise, no reply!

          1 Reply
          1. re: red dragon

            My point was not that PM's pastry is God's gift to dessert; merely that the two I tasted were pleasant, and significantly less expensive than some I have tasted from the more "famed" outlets such as Dufflet and so forth.

          2. I was very disappointed by the Monaco and Cocoa cakes sold by some Loblaw stores.

            I don't share the the opinion that Dufflet has been declining. I like some Dufflet cakes and dislike others, but the ingredients in everything continue to be real. She seems to be mass producing simpler cakes than she made in the past - comfort food cakes, really - and that's what the supermarkets sell. There's nothing actually wrong with these, and she still makes fabulous fancy cakes for her own stores and on order.

            Some Loblaw stores now sell Baker St cakes, which I've found to be much better than LaRocca's. And I still feel the PC lemon and chocolate tarts stand up well against all of the expensive labels.

            2 Replies
            1. re: embee

              I had the chocolate Baker Street cake a couple of weeks back and was pleasantly surprised. Asked the fellow behind the counter whether he recommended the higher-priced and smaller (by weight) President's Choice cake or the less expensive and bigger Baker Street. He said without a question the Baker Street. Does not speak well for at least that PC product, when even their own staff don't recommend it, and it's selling at a significantly higher price than the bigger and better option. I have enjoyed many of the other PC desserts, but it's been a long time since they had anything approaching a decent chocolate cake -- I remember one they made about 12 or so years ago now, for about a year or two, that was delicious and good value. Don't know why they discontinued it...

              1. re: Full tummy

                I liked the Baker St chocolate cake better than the PC chocolate cake but, to be fair, the PC cake wasn't bad. The Baker St cake was more to my taste rather than "better".

                One seldom can find out why they discontinue something. Occasionally it's simple - perhaps you loved it but they didn't sell much of it overall. But there are SO many other issues: manufacturing issues, supply issues, cost vs price price point issues, shelf space shortages, advertising fees, co-ops, and many more.

                Way back when, Loblaws would occasionally tell you why a successful product was being withdrawn. They didn't do it very often and no other GTA chain ever did as far as I know. Wegman's will apparently tell you why, but only if you ask.

            2. The original comment has been removed
              1. I have been the main catalyst for innovation in bakery for Loblaw over the last year or so. One of my first missions was to improve our fancy cake offering and I approached Rahier, LaRoca, Dufflet and Patisserie Monaco to do so. I have high regard for Rahier but they have limited production capabilities and in turn you will only find a few offerings in a few stores - but they are top notch and the most expensive.

                One of the first things I concentrated on with the other vendors was upgrading quality - with a primary emphasis on getting the ingredients to be either primary ingredients (which I define as ingredients with a one word descriptor) or made from primary ingredients.

                So what I suggest is that you look at the ingredient labels. This is the first and primary indicator of quality from my perspective. Next time you are in the store, look at the ingredient statements for the Patisserie Monaco cakes (if there are none in a self-serve case ask the service person for the list). You will find that they almost without exception have ingredient statements that have either primary ingredients or ingredients made from primary ingredients. In particular, you will see the word "cream" to describe cream. If you look at other ingredient statements for cream, there are a lot of sub ingredients. That is because Patisserie Monaco went to great effort and expense to source organic cream - so that there would be just cream in their cakes - cream with no additives or sub-ingredients.

                Patisserie Monaco has been the most cooperative in meeting my quality requests so I would agree with those who have praise for Patisserie Monaco. In fact, I believe they are the highest quality producer of scale, of cakes for the supermarket industry in North America. So from my perspective these are the best value, when you define value as the nexus of price, quality and eating experience. And this was not by accident - it was deliberate. Recently, Dufflet has also come to the table and has been very cooperative also. So I have increasingly high regard for their offerings.

                There should also be strict shelf life guidelines at the stores for these cakes - 2 days in the case then marked down on the third. So if freshness has become questionable at the stores, then it is most likely because of failure at store level to follow rotation protocols.

                5 Replies
                1. re: buyerwithintegrity

                  And there have been clear results, so thank you. We can nitpick things to death here, but there's a hell of a difference between the standard made-in store slab cakes (which I don't bother eating) and the things you are describing.

                  Now if you could only get some coaching for the bakery guy at Leslie St, who thinks real cream is disgusting....

                  1. re: embee

                    I do appreciate that loblaws goes through the trouble to make sure that the ingredients are great..... BUT im not wasting calories on even the most purest of organic ingredients if the product doesn't taste good, which is what the problem with patisserie monaco is. But atleast they still carry Rahier.....Just wish they would carry more la rocca, but since they dont, i just take my business elsewhere where they do.

                    1. re: chillihigh

                      They carry Rahier? Which location(s)?

                      1. re: FoodJourno

                        The LaRocca cakes were typically kept frozen till put in the display case. Is this not true of the Patisserie Monaco products? Seems impractical to make cakes for grocery stores that cannot be frozen, but I know that entails changes to recipes/ingredients, etc. Better that, perhaps, than a stale cake, however.

                        1. re: Full tummy

                          the one in etobicoke at burnamthorpe carries some rahier pastries