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Sep 28, 2013 11:41 AM

Chowfind: Maxim's Cafe Patisserie -Finch and Bayview

Maxim's Cafe Patisserie
676 Finch Ave East, east of Bayview
Lunch and dinner
seven days, 11.30am to 11 pm or 12pm
10% gratuity added to bill
Cash only under$25

A good and nice meal! No fakery! By people who care! Reasonably priced! Wow!

I thought that it had potential when we walked in. There was a basket of bananas on top of the cake cabinet. They were ......spotted! They were ........ripe!!

There are a bunch of salads, appetizers and mains. Try the prix fixe. Lots of choice.
Prices range from $15 for the entree plus $8 for the rest (Seafood vol au vent, chicken breast) to $28 (AAA 18oz rib steak) plus $8 etc. Most items are $18 plus or minus a dollar. (Braised ox tail in red wine, duck a l'orange, orange roughy etc).

So you get the main, and for $8 comes garlic bread, a small salad, soup, dessert your choice from the cabinet and tea or coffee.

Lunch is $12 to $15 , soup or salad, entree (omelette $12, lamb shank $ smoked salmon pasta $13etc) , dessert, tea or coffee.

Maxim was started by the father, who many years ago was a pastry chef in a fancy Hong Kong hotel, and then many places elsewhere. The business is carried on by his sons.

Now our meals.
The cooking is sort of French.
Portions are small, but everything on the plate is good and should be eaten. That includes the garnishes and the decorative fruit sauces on the dessert plate.

I had a lamb shank for supper and a tomato orange pepper pancake style "omelette" for lunch. My friend had the Thai red grouper curry ($14 plus $8).

A characteristic of good French cooking is that everything is not quite enough, but in the end it is perfect. Maxim's takes the "not quite enough" part up a notch. But this is not necessarily a criticism. It seems that the great majority of their customers are Chinese. Chinese are said to have a more refined and sensitive palate than Caucasians. They tend to be smaller people and they have avoided the Caucasian obesity epidemic. Also, everyone is entitled to bring their own aesthetic spin on their cooking, and the owners are Chinese. So a bit lighter, a bit thinner, a bit smaller can be just right too and certainly legitimate for everyone. The net result for me is that I went back the next day for lunch- and I'm Polish!
And yes the rice with the fish curry dish was brilliant (fn. J.O.).

The patisserie. I have little interest in dessert and even less interest in pastry baking and consequentially my opinion is less reliable. Hey, it's not bread! I would rather have a bowl of cooked pears with ice cream and chocolate sauce. So all I can say is that what we had was more than acceptable.

Special mention of the lunch omelette. It was just beautifully cooked, as good as you can hope to find anywhere. I am working on getting the recipe out of them. No luck so far- its a secret I was told. Please advise if you go and figure it out.

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  1. Glad you discovered the place!!
    FYI, The Chinese community has been buying pastries and cakes from this place for over a decade!! Amongst the tops of all the Chinese owned outfits. Most of the offerings are light, moist, fluffy and not overly sweet. Black Forest, Mango Mousse and Tiramisu are stand outs. They also have a branch on 9665 Bayview, across from Yang's. Slightly different format and set dinners offered.

    2 Replies
    1. re: Charles Yu

      I think they've been in that particular mall since at least 1990....moving at least once within that strip mall. Cakes are decent enough, but the restaurant section gets mixed reviews from me. The food is OK to fine, something like a high end HK style cafe with prices that reflect, but the few times I've been there, I got the feeling they really don't want you there....cold, and indifferent more than rude. Not a fan of the place, but I would go again for the food.

      1. re: Charles Yu

        Yes, I am one of them who has been buying their meringue cakes for over a decade! I like especially to bring one of these to gatherings of non-Chinese friends, who already probably know most of the places in the city that make good pastries.. and then I tell them I got this cake from this Chinese patisserie..

      2. Yeah this is an old school Asian eatery/bakery place. Their strawberry meringue cake is classic. Maybe there's an awesome chef in now, but I've found their meals here have been only okay over the years. Not bad, just not something I'd direct people to.

        1. I just noted you wrote - "10% gratuity added to the bill". Wow! That is very 'Hong Kongish'. Haven't seen that implemented in Toronto!!

          1. I always get my Napolean there - in fact got one today. Their cakes are terrific IMO.

            1. The omelette had been so good that when I ended up with a friend at Wimpy's on Sheppard and Bathurst one night I got their vegetable omelette. Overcooked and very dry. Tasted of meat- I think that the cook used the same turner tool on the omelette that he was using on someone else's bacon. The home fries were not good. Just potato and too much industrial quasi-BBQ spice. Left most of the plate. Dry toast properly executed according to my friend's request for his own.
              First time, last time.

              So I went back to Maxim's on Saturday for the omelette lunch.
              Consistency seems to be a problem. I was told that I had to specify how I wanted my omelette cooked.
              My first omelette had no visible trace of fat, no brown crust, a wet centre, no taste of salt. I was told that this way was unusual and if I wanted it like this, I had to specify. (As one does with steak.) Continuing, 90% of the customers would object to it the way I liked it the first time.

              The lunch desserts must be what they want to move. I chose the Napoleon and it was a bit of a chore; inter alia the patisserie cream was grainy.

              The vegetable soup was good as was (in lieu of toast, insist,) the French style vegetables.

              The lamb shank on the other tables looked wonderful and it wasn't just other table envy.