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Awesome NEW "MICRO-BAKERY" in Cabbagetown: Cafe Olya !

  • k

Amazing. Really. Olya hand-bakes everything and you can watch her most of the day working on her marble slab behind the counter. Modest frontage. with a small dark sign at 540 Parliament below Wellesley, across from and just south of the Exxon.

Blueberry-ricotta, chocolate hazelnut, apple custard scones. Airy gougeres. Perfect croissants. A variety of seasonal fruits incorporated into small batches of uncompromising treats made with pricey ingredients. No corner-cutting. Every day a different selection, which peaks between 10:00 and 11:00 am. At least two choices at opening times.

Her partner Mike is pulling the coffees and manning the register.

I can't lie: at $ 2,00 per item, it is very FAIRLY priced, but by no means cheap. Still, I used to pick up mass-produced sweets at Starbucks. No comparison. But, if you are buying two dozen for the office, you probably want to go for donuts at TIm's.

This is truly artisanal baking for the cognoscenti.

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  1. How do their goods compare with Daniel et Daniel just down the road? Is the coffee better than Jet Fuel? Do they bake anything as mundane as bread? I see nothing on their website indicating so.

    If I want inexpensive in the area, I go to Absolute Bakery which must be pretty much across the street from this place. FourBucks and Tim's prices can't compare and the stuff is made fresh daily all day long.

    2 Replies
    1. re: Googs

      I'm hoping that Olya can be the great croissant place that Cabbagetown needs - D&D and Absolute's croissants are nothing to write home about.

      If this is anything like Patisserie 27 near Jane and Annette I'll be very happy (I'm certainly not a croissant expert and haven't tried all of the various places that are often mentioned when discussing great croissants in Toronto, but to my mind Patisserie 27 is as close to the perfect croissant as I've tried in Toronto).

      I'll try to stop by tomorrow morning and see. Fingers crossed.

      1. re: Strongbad789

        I went this morning at maybe 11:30 am; we bought four croissants, five pain au chocolats, and a plum tart (my wife was going to a brunch party afterwards). These were all the items they had for sale at the time.

        Everything was delicious (not as flaky as the croissants from Patisserie 27, perhaps, but still great and much better than the alternatives in the area), but I actually felt sort of bad since we basically cleaned them out of their pastry supply (we bought all the pain au chocolats, and left them with two croissants). I assume they baked more later, but based on my experience it seems that they really don't keep much of a supply on hand at any given time (although I may have caught them just before they were planning on baking more). Good and bad, I suppose; you're guaranteed fresh pastries, but if someone came in after we did they would probably have been peeved at the lack of selection.

        For a shop that makes such tasty pastries, hopefully they become popular enough that they can have a larger supply on hand at any given time. I'll definitely be back.

    2. $2 actually does sound cheap these days for a good scone or croissant. Hopefully they can survive until fall when I'm back in the area on a regular basis.

      1. This place has been on my "to do" list for a while now. But are you sure it's new? I thought it had been around for a while.

        3 Replies
        1. re: kwass

          I think they opened in December, 2012. So perhaps they are "newish" but I checked that there have been no Chow-posts on them, so new to this forum at least!

          Her scones are in a different UNIVERSE than Absolute, and she is a block downhill from them. Tiny selection of small-batch handmade, and nothing more than 6 hours old. By closing time at 4:00 pm the shelf is bare.

          Daniel and Daniel's stuff is mid-scale commercial and often as not, very pretty but stale and relatively flavorless. I am no fan of their baking and when I buy there, I always check for waht is freshest rather than what is to my taste.

          And no, sad to say, Olya does not make bread. And Jet Fuel is not a bakery. Olya may have "cafe" in the name, and my latte was proper, but it is a bakery first and foremost.

          Have I raved about the TEXTURES of her treats? The perfect crumb, crust, chew or crunch if it is supposed to be that way, and the contrasting smooth and creamy centers, or the richly sticky fruity fillings.... YUM. And nothing is overly sweet. THe flavors are not punched up or masked with lots of cheap sugar; all the flavors are come by honestly.

          I am eager to hear other opinions, pro or con. It may just be that she hits my sweet spot, but that I am off-center.

          1. re: KAYLO

            Wow!! It sounds aaaa-mazing!! Even though, as I said, it's been on my "to do" list for a while, it looks like I'm going to have to go sooner rather than later :)

            1. re: KAYLO

              Thanks for the info. Beau and I will be sure to check it out.

          2. Sounds great. Their pictures are mouthwatering! Are there any seats or is it strictly take away?

            1 Reply
            1. re: cheesymama

              I just went on their website, and it's essentially a take-out place. The entire space is about 300 sq feet with 2 bar seats, a bench, and no public washrooms.

            2. I went this morning, just after they opened, and they didn't have a large selection @ that time...essentially 2 types of scones and a pesto and egg sandwich on brioche. I got the berry and custard scone, which was really delicious - vert moist, as opposed to a lot of scones which tend to be on the dry side. I would definitely go back.

              1. $2 for a good croissant is very very fair, and is pretty much standard. Bakeries make very little margin and the labor involved can be exhausting.

                1. This place us worth the hype. Warning that there are only two stools and limited quantities - I got the very last baked good at 2 today, and I've seen them closed by 4pm Saturday. I so wish they had real seating so I could take my kids here instead of evil Timmy's.
                  Oh and for the quality, the price is good - less than $3 for a Danish, which are close to $3.50 at O & B HBC, Thuet etc and sometimes disappointing (I may, ahem, have a habit).

                  1. I must have missed this thread. Looks great. Can't wait to try.

                    9 Replies
                    1. re: magic

                      It's worth a trip out there magic. Their stuff is great!!!

                      1. re: kwass

                        I shall be going - for sure.

                        1. re: magic

                          Finally got here. Fantastic! Thank you Chowhound. Great find. Dangerously good. Lovely owners. Great vibe.

                          Will become a regular for sure.

                          Enjoy the Gougere pics! Killer.

                          1. re: magic

                            So glad you liked it magic!! Great pics!

                            1. re: magic

                              Thanks for resurrecting this thread. Checked it out today, excellent croissants!

                        2. This place is fantastic, but I think that they need to work on having a more dependable selection of baked goods. We live in the area and often stop by between about 10 and noon on a Saturday or Sunday, and you never really know what they're going to have (or whether they'll even have anything). We stopped by last Saturday at about 10:30 and they were out of everything (well, they had two of something left, but it didn't interest me).

                          I know that's it's a small operation and that they have limited production and display space, but I think that they need to do what they can to step up their bakery game (the bakery is, after all, the real appeal of the place). I'd really like to be able to count on the fact that they'll always have some standard options (at least croissants and maybe pain au chocolats) if I show up before 11 on a weekend day.

                          11 Replies
                          1. re: Strongbad789

                            I agree! That's the problem I have with them as well.

                            1. re: kwass

                              I thought the micro scale of the operation was part of the charm... though given how tasty the results are I can understand your frustration :P

                            2. re: Strongbad789

                              Fair enough.

                              On the one hand I do kind of like not knowing what will be offered that day as it forces you to try something new you might not normally try.

                              On the other hand, it's of course nice to know you'll be able to get your favourites.

                              10:30 is much too early to be out of most things. I'm an early riser so for me getting there early is no problem but most people are not like that I'm guessing and at 10:30 you shouldn't have to sweat sellouts.

                              My guess is they'll expand. They seem to be doing well enough.

                              1. re: magic

                                I was there @ 9 once and they only had croissants. Nothing else was ready.

                                1. re: kwass

                                  I can understand why that would be frustrating, of course. Most people don't have time to wait around. For sure.

                                  It's not unreasonable to say they could work on providing a more dependable stock.

                                  Must be tough with such a small space and no staff (that I'm aware of).

                                  1. re: magic

                                    That's the problem. I think they only have one baker and a very small space to bake in.

                                    1. re: kwass

                                      The flipside of course is that with such a small operation the quality control is superb.

                                        1. re: kwass


                                          Will be interesting to see how (or if) they grow.

                                          1. re: magic

                                            It would be great if they found even a slightly bigger space, so they could hire another baker.

                            3. I had their maple financiers this weekend:

                              Delicious!! SO complained the $2.50 price tag for the bite size treat - I didn't mind as my bites are smaller.

                              Also, my first trying their almond latte (with 49th parallel beans) - very satisfying.

                              (photo from their fb page)

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: happycamper

                                Mmmm. If Cafe Olya was closer to my house it'd be a daily visit for sure!

                                “Price is what you pay; value is what you get." - Warren Buffett