Best Calgary bakeries recommendations please.
We have a bakery in small-town Southern Alberta, and are currently mixing up our product mix and decor. I've love your recommendations as to places in Calgary that are 'doing it right', particularly any with a wide product selection, and possibly a bakery-cafe concept (ie soups, sandwiches, breads and treats).
We'll only have a few hours to run around checking them out, so we'll have to limit ourselves to checking out the best we can find.
If you're looking for a café/bakery that's "doing it right" one example that comes to mind is Caffe Rosso just because they do all their baking in-house and I think more important is that the coffee part of their business is taken just as seriously as at Phil and Sebastian or any top-level coffeehouse. In fact Rosso is first and foremost a top-level coffeehouse. You can't have great baked goods and lousy coffee. Oh another great example of a first-rate coffeehouse that has excellent house-baked things is Bumpy's. There are lots of examples of coffeehouses with good food programs but most of those source their baking from Sidewalk Citizen or wherever.
Speaking of Sidewalk Citizen- they're opening an actual storefront in Kensington by (or maybe inside of) Sunnyside Market so check that out!!!
I know everybody's going to recommend that you follow the sort of example of Lazy Loaf and Kettle but I'm not as in love with the place as everybody else in Calgary seems to be.
Oddly enough, the one place that comes to mind that fits your description is Loaf Bakery & Cafe in Fernie, BC. Great little place, good variety of bread and excellent use of small space. In Calgary, I totally agree with the Sidewalk Citizen rec.
re: Scary Bill
Hi Scary Bill - sorry they removed your post. My fault - can't talk at all about my business - which I'm not trying to promote - I was only trying to establish why we're not looking for examples of bakery/cafes where the primary focus is coffee.
So..... back to the basic question. Heading up to Calgary wednesday and would LOVE people to recommend freestanding (ie not affiliated with grocery stores) bakery/cafes where:
A) most or all food is made onsite
B) there is ready-to-eat product: soups, sandwiches, etc.
c) small seating area if any
d) places with a 'buy coffee and linger' model aren't what we're looking for - more 'soup nazi' than starbucks.
Your recommendations mean a LOT to me.
(For the moderators: I am looking for recommendations for businesses in Calgary. My business is several hundred kilometres away from Calgary. There are no identifying factors in this thread now. Alberta is a big province. Please consider before deleting this.)
re: Scary Bill
Yeah Ace is wonderful and it's great to have it in Calgary but I doubt the OP is looking for supermarket recos no matter how good the products are. Safeway is hitting home runs with some of their artisanal breads and they have THE BEST CRUSTY ROLLS in town, better than Rustic Sourdough sometimes, but I'd never think to reply to this with "check out the great breads they have now at Safeway" (or Costco, which does have awesome breads).
Local's initial post referred to "a bakery in small-town Southern Alberta, and are currently mixing up our product mix", hence I recommended a product line I thought he/she might find interesting.
But thanks for thr criticism, Local probably found it very helpful as did I. My most humble apologies to you for offending you. I promise on my mother's grave I will never do it again.
My vote is for Patisserie du Soleil in Woodbine in the SW (24 St SW and Anderson Rd, just before it turns to 37 St )
My other favourite is Eclair de Lune in Thorncliff. They make these amazing Mushroom Turnovers as well as some really awesome pastries.
Although I love the food at Patisserie du Soleil, I wish their coffee and service were better. I love Cafe Crema in Bridlewood. It's pretty far south but I think it would be an excellent model for you. They have great coffee (make their own syrups) and yummy food. I'm not sure how much of it they make as they don't have a full kitchen. They've made an effort to be a part of the community by starting ESL and conversation clubs as well as open mic nights and painting classes. The staff are super friendly as well. I drive past three Starbucks to get there....
So we hit, in order,
Prairie Mill - liked their concept, what they're doing product wise - I can see why they want to move into more 'impulse items' - all they have are (good) breads and some cinnamon bun type items. Love the huge cutting board with a dome on it, offering generous slices of the warm stuff the second you walk in. Good food.
Eclaire de lune. Man, nice pastry. Liked their cookie selection - these are fancies, not grandma's oatmeal raisin cookies. Totally want to start making meringues like theirs.
Oh, and quiches - I liked the mushroom pastry too.
Rustic Sourdough Bakery - these people know what they're doing. Decor, product mix, the way their cakes and treats are merchandised, smart. Hubby asked baker guy (all the bakers were totally friendly and helpful btw, except one) a question about an issue we've been having with our white sourdough and he says "First, precise precise measurements - we have digital scales for everything, and then, remember that the levain is ALIVE, so it'll still do whatever it wants...."
We also checked out Malicher in Kensington. I hope they're busy at other times - it looked kind of sad and empty when we got there, as though they were just about to start baking when we walked in at 10:30 am. All reviews I found said nice things about it - they're a nice couple, certainly. Again, I haven't tasted everything we bought from them yet.
Then Jelly Modern Donuts - (donuts are big where we are) and it's impressive to see what a solid marketing/branding budget can do - but also, so much SPACE devoted to one product? Is this really the next 'cupcake concept?" They're asking for franchisees on their site. I wonder how sustainable they really are. Cute wedding cake donut ideas though. Smart.
Then, hmmn... oh, Glamorgan Bakery. Other than some things they're doing well, it's almost like we walked into an alternate reality version of our bakery - you can feel the 'age' in there, but not in a bad way. Older bakeries have that 'gravitas' to them. Anyway, there was a lineup of teenagers in there 20 deep so we left without buying anything.
Then Sidewalk Citizen - when we got there the crew was peeling and dicing REAL APPLES for some weekend baking. Hubby was stunned: "You use REAL apples? " Most bakers just open a can. Impressive. Hubby and baker guy talked for a long time about technique while I tried to keep our-now-sick-of-visiting bakeries two year old from trashing the place. Nice baguette - hubby wouldn't let me eat more than a bite of it because he wanted to show his crew the deep scoring technique on the loaf. Very attractive.
Then finally, before hitting the highway, Wilde Grainz. I haven't eaten anything from there yet except a pretzel (good!) that two year old didn't finish - but they certainly are precious about their bread. We offended them - clearly - tired family - misbehaving toddler, and a guy in a 'hunter camo john deer baseball cap' and really dirty work boots (bakery crud) asking 'so what makes this loaf of bread worth 8 bucks?" She answered reasonably well, but didn't seem to try to 'sell' her product. (Real bakers are not often marketers as well - no sin there.) I'll finally get a taste of it today. It's funny - from their site I thought I'd get more of a friendly anarchist vibe from them, but it feels a little stressed in there. Yes, undoubtedly superhigh quality, but I wonder how sustainable the business model is. Of course, this was a Wednesday, so not the busy busy day for them.
Sounds like your adventure was a success, good, and that you are able to appropriately implement at your shop. Only a comment about Wilde Grainz, and that is about price, which I think needs to be reduced by a rather large notch. I'm not a total skinflint, but their prices to me are unrealistic, no matter the product. They need to have some everyday items at competitive prices to get feet in the store.
Thanks Localbread for the great reviews. I love bread and frequent most of the places on your list. I will add that Sidewalk Citizen is a whole 'nother beast. They take baking in a completely other direction with unique flavor blends and superior quality. I love them and glad they have now opened a second location in Kensington.