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Old-fashioned and generous service @ Harbord Bakery

Bigtigger Mar 17, 2012 06:10 PM

In an era when impersonal, rushed or matter of fact service is often encountered at all levels of speciality food stores, supermarkets and restaurants, the folks at Harbord Bakery stand out in opposition to the times by being, I suspect, themselves.

Today must be the third or fourth time in the last few years when they counter staff have made me a gift of a bun, a danish, a loaf of bread...when I have brought my fairly modest order to the cash register in their delightfully unpretentious premises. They have a demanding clientele, witness some of the exacting exchanges - and their prices are not cheap - but they are warm and kind.

A big St Paddy's day hurrah for this fine TO institution!

  1. p
    peppermint pate Mar 22, 2012 01:02 PM

    Even though I didn't go to Harbord much as a child (we went to Open Window more), I always knew about it and it's always had that old world, nostalgic feel for me. I go there much more often as an adult and I find the owners and the overall service to be warm and wonderful. It's always kinda special to go there - especially lining up for a challah on Rosh Hashana. Their lox is incredible. I also like their chopped liver (though prefer Haymishes). Great cheese blintzes. And really good rugelach.

    1. Dr. John Mar 21, 2012 09:49 AM

      Agree about the service. They are always very nice. I too love the challah, rugelach, and I am also partial to their bagels. But for these kinds of things, individual taste can vary a lot and I can understand if it doesn't work for some people.


      9 Replies
      1. re: Dr. John
        magic Mar 21, 2012 11:12 AM

        I don't think I've ever heard one negative comment about Harbord Bakery's food aside from baabaablacksheep's. But hey, everyone's taste is different and to each their own right.

        1. re: magic
          ThoughtForFood Mar 22, 2012 12:41 PM

          I have bought dry stale hamburger buns which normally I love when fresh. This happened on two occasions. The empanadas are very bland. Everything else I have tried is pretty good, especially the challah, but then again not mind blowing.

          1. re: ThoughtForFood
            magic Mar 22, 2012 02:29 PM

            I knew once I made a comment like that people would voice up : )

            Too bad about your less than stellar experiences.

            I guess my point is, in my experience at least, I've always known Harbord as a very well-regarded bakery so it's almost shocking if I see something contrary to that.

            My own experiences there have always been fantastic.

            1. re: magic
              ThoughtForFood Mar 22, 2012 03:04 PM

              Well obviously. hehehe. I get it. Its hard for me not to be defensive about places I have never had a bad experience at. Especially local hardworking places like Harbord that are easy to root for. Nothing has stopped me from returning. In terms of Toronto bakeries they are pretty top notch. I was more pointing out that they aren't perfect in my mind. But certainly worth visiting when in the area. Just not for empanadas.

              1. re: ThoughtForFood
                magic Mar 22, 2012 05:56 PM

                Fair enough :)

        2. re: Dr. John
          CarNut Mar 21, 2012 11:49 AM

          Just as an FYI, I could be wrong, but I seem to remember that Harbord Bakery closes for Passover. This year, Passover starts on the night of April 6 (Good Friday) and ends on April 13.

          1. re: CarNut
            szw Mar 22, 2012 09:55 AM

            Does this place make brioche? If not, any other recommendations on where to buy good plain brioche?

            1. re: szw
              acd123 Mar 22, 2012 11:26 AM

              Yes, the brioche at Harbord is called challah (minus the dairy of course) :-)

              1. re: szw
                Splendid Wine Snob Mar 22, 2012 12:08 PM

                Harbord is a Jewish bakery, not French. Personally I love the brioche at Thobors.

          2. b
            baabaablacksheep Mar 19, 2012 01:19 PM

            All this praise for Harbord Bakery makes me think that I must be ordering the wrong things from them -- nothing I've had there has been at all memorable. I am definitely going to try some of the items suggested here!

            1. justsayn Mar 17, 2012 06:31 PM

              Don't forget the high quality ingredients and true love that goes into the preparation of everything there. Incredilbly consistent. It seems expensive because the items aren't fancy, but the truth is that the value is there. Not all items are my favourite but my go-tos always hit the spot.

              4 Replies
              1. re: justsayn
                Splendid Wine Snob Mar 17, 2012 10:19 PM

                For sure. Fell in love with their challah, rugelach, and double chocolate nut cookies about a week after I moved to the city.

                1. re: Splendid Wine Snob
                  Attknee Mar 19, 2012 10:44 AM

                  Try the gingerbread person. If you can, get it without the candy face on it. The best!

                  1. re: Attknee
                    millygirl Mar 19, 2012 12:33 PM

                    Love their danish rings - almond is my fav. In fact I try not to keep it in the house because I could eat the entire ring on my own - IN A DAY. LOL

                    1. re: millygirl
                      acd123 Mar 19, 2012 01:12 PM

                      And don't forget their smoked salmon and chopped liver. Their smoked salmon is amazing. Really smokey and buttery and you can tell that it's never been frozen. They'll only tell me that they get it from their fish delivery guy :-) Chopped liver is great too. I pick up some of both last weekend.

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