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Old-fashioned and generous service @ Harbord Bakery

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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!

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  1. 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

      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

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

        1. re: Attknee

          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

            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.

    2. 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. 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.

        -John

        9 Replies
        1. re: Dr. John

          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

            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

              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

                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

                  Fair enough :)

          2. re: Dr. John

            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

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

              1. re: szw

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

                1. re: szw

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

            2. 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.