Where to find Mille-Feuille (Napoleons) in Toronto?
First of all, a Napoleon is not a Mille-Feuilles; It is not even a poor second cousin twice removed.
A Napoleon is a cake - and a nice layered cake that can be made very quickly by combining slices layers with creams/icings. Yes, yes, I know that in France or Quebec, a Napoléon is similar to a mille-feuilles - that's Napoléon pronounce Na-po-lay-ohn. In Toronto, we have Na-po-lee-ons, which are the cakes.
A Mille-Feuilles is a work intensive patisserie - made with papier feuilletiee and creme patisierre.
And it's heavenly when eaten fresh out of the oven, with a beautiful fondant top.
To translate, the pastry is butter puff pastry (with hundreds of folds), the cream is an egg-cream custard, the icing is sugar (no butter!). Adding chocolate, coffee, etc can alter the flavours, but the richness of the pastry will kick every Na-po-lee-on to the curb.
A while back I searched Toronto for a real mille-feuilles (I grew up in Montreal, not far from Duc de Lorraine, and many other amazing patisserie. There was exactly one donut shop within a half hour drive of my house. Only cops went there).
Anyway, I called every place from Steeles to Front, and from Dufferin to Don Mills, especially those with the word "patisserie" in their name.
Many places did not know what a mille-feuilles was, some did not know or have Napoleons or Neapolitans either. Apparently, if you sell croissant, you must be a "patisserie". Most of these places are boulangeries/cafes - bakeries with a few tables.
I won't name them all - suffice to say that on Bayview and Mt Pleasant I didn't find one place that made a daily or weekly mille-feuille (one claimed they made it by special order as a full cake).
I called one West end place (St Honore?), but unless I ordered a full pan, I was never going to be there before the morning rush sell-out. (Chocolada has none, I've never noticed one at Amadeus).
North of Lawrence, most of the places must have been owned by Persians, Koreans, or Chinese, and used French words in their store names because they sounded sophisticated or some such nonsense. Too bad they had no employees that actually knew French pastry names other than "crah-ssont".
(But the most retarded when it comes to abusing French, are the the world-class city Toronto restaurants where the appetizers are "hors d'oeuvres" and main dishes "entrees" on their menus......)
Now on to my review:
I noticed Pain Perdu in the fall, when I was working in the area (Bathurst and St Clair). I had just stopped by a few bakeries on St Clair that were not much better than the ubiquitous Toronto donut shops, and had already walked by the PP storefront when I decided to turn back and be disappointed by another "French" bakery/pastry shop. Much to my surprise, not only did the owner tell me what days he bakes mille-feuilles, and to show up early before it sells out, but he did so in French, because amazingly, he is French!
I finally returned late one day, since I am not up before noon most days, and luck was on my side - a few mille-feuilles were left (my companion had a mocha eclair - regular eclairs were sold out).
Other than the icing being very thick and hard (it is only soft when the mille-feuilles is warm), I was in heaven. The pastry was delightfully buttery, the custard was amazingly rich, and the serving was a good size. The eclair was miniscule, but equally rich and fresh - my companion and I enjoyed the mocha flavour, though she would have liked a larger and non-flavoured eclair.
Like a true cafe, Pain Perdu boasts a daily menu of meat, cheese, and vegetable dishes that will satisfy lunch and supper diners. They have a nice selection of patisserie, and many various pains perdu (heritage breads, literally "lost bread"), which is what they specialize in.
The prices are not cheap, but cheaper than anything in Toronto (because so far I've found nowhere that makes a real mille-feuilles. Or eclairs for that matter.).
The coffees are decent, and made fresh to order. You will have to wait for the coffee to be made, and you will taste the various beans even with a hefty dose of cream and sugar. Be aware that these are not Tim Horton's, Starbucks, or any other mass market coffee preparations, so if a "double-double" or a "latte" is what you think coffee should be, make sure to only order a "cafe-au-lait", and dump sugar into it.
We chose to eat in - the place is quiet and calm, service was courteous and friendly, and tipping is not required, but can be done at the cash register.
There is a non-stop stream of customers taking out breads and pastries - in the hour we were there, virtually all pastry and sweet items were sold out (around 3 pm).
It's definitely worth a repeat visit, and I would like to have a meal there. The menu combined simple French cooking such as stews/melanges, with more expensive items like foie gras.
And a mille-feuiles for desert,,,,
AYCE supper in Toronto that can support a corporate meeting of 200 people
Looking for an AYCE supper in the City of Toronto (if it's outside of the city limits, it must be within a block of the city limits)
The location has to have a single room capable of seating 200 people for a presentation, and have slide/powerpoint facilities (electrical outlets, projection screen).
Hotels and banquet halls are out of the question; previous meetings have been held at such places - at $20-25 a head for a catered set-course of standard Euro-wedding fare (roast beef/chicken breast, soup, iced desert).
Rather than be served bland ho-hum food by catering staff, at tables with linen napkins and centerpieces, I've been suggesting that people be given food that they will enjoy, with the ability to choose what and how much to take, and to dispense with the linen and black tie waiters.
At the moment, I know of only two places that are able to host such a large gathering in one large room:
Frankie Tomatto's (a block north of Steeles)
China Buffet King (Warden and 401, if still open)
Some of the larger Chinese restaurants can hold large parties, but a proper Chinese banquet would be akin to eating Offal for over half the attendees.
AYCE's, whether Indian, Chinese, Sushi, Italian, or what-not, is usually sufficiently average to not offend any palate, and offer enough pizza/french fry/fried chicken/junk food to satisfy even the most die-hard meat-and-potatoes-is-as-exotic-as-it-gets diner.
If you know of any AYCE's in Toronto (the area bounded by Steeles, Morningside, and Kipling Avenues, approximately) that definitely can support such a large group, please let me know.
Richmond Hill, Vaughan, Markham, and Brampton are not of any interest (yes, I know there are places that fit the bill there - but until those cities rename themselves Toronto, it's no-go).
Peking Duck in Toronto
New Sky Restaurant on Spadina, halfway between Dundas and College on the East side. White table cloth and good service,and reasonable prices.
At one time, when they opened, they had excellent quality food, some uniquely (in a good way) flavoured dishes, and a very nicely presented, very tasty Peking Duck.
Then the non-Chinese started showing up, and it started turning into the place that all the whiteys pack just south of it (Lee Gardens).
When you show up once a week at 11:30 pm (when it's empty), and the staff all recognize you, and the extra lettuce is $1, and then one week you show up without any Chinese people in your party and they want to charge you $5 for extra lettuce, that's when no matter how good the food is, the restaurant deserves to be in the doghouse. And I was there to show them how amazing the place was......
But seriously, we did revisit it, but the quality of the food deteriorated to mediocre so rapidly that we stopped going there based on that factor.
It may still be the best downtown for the Duck though.
Cora's - worth visiting?
I just read the reviews previous to mine. It looks like I took what many said, and put it in one post!!! Funny.
Looks like there's a lot of agreement, which I didn't expect.
Cora's - worth visiting?
(I have not read others statements before posting - these are my opinions)
Hailing from Montreal, I've been to Cora's, and Beauty's, and Brown Derby, and Snowdon Deli, and Schwarz's, and Magic Pan, and Chez Grandmere, and Crepe Breton, and Eggspectations, and all the other brunch/breakfast places so popular in that city.
Cora's is allright, especially if you have children who have never seen a crepe, or been offered chocolate and whipped cream as a main dish. And yes, people line up in Montreal for Cora's, but there are much much larger line-ups at many other brunch places....
The fruit is decent, but you won't get the ripest fruit as a rule - few restaurants can afford to pick and keep large quantities of completely ripened fruit.
Berries and citrus do need the sugar, cream, and oil to help mask the tartness from being not fully ripened, but it is provided (that's a *good* thing).
Because of this, you may not enjoy a plain fruit salad without something to chase it with (like cottage cheese). If you're used to picking and eating not-so-ripe fruit, or tart things are what you like, you'll be happy. Otherwise, consider fruit as a side only.
The egg based mains are decent - nothing that can't be found elsewhere, but the presentation tends to be nice at Cora's. If I have to go to Cora's, I will always choose an egg main, as do all my meal companions who have been to Cora's - the newbies tend to go for the crepes and sweets.
Crepe-wise, Cora's does not compare favourably to a proper creperie. If you had a top notch crepe suzette or crepe st-jacques recently, and want to taste that again, don't expect it at Cora's. The crepes are slightly cooked batter, with a bland flavour, but with the fillings that are offered, you won't find them disagreeable.
Overall, it's a nice chain place for suburban Toronto, average price for average food, good for kids who like picture menus and sugar. If you live anywhere with neighbourhood/independent brunch places, Cora's is not worth the trip. If Golden Griddle and Denny's are what you want, Cora's can top them.
Personal tip: avoid the buckwheat crepes - I first had this over a decade ago, and while healthy perhaps, it tastes like brown packing paper, and is almost as dry. Why they still have this on the menu baffles me.....has it improved??
Hakka in Mississauga
I would suggest Faley's in Etobicoke for the best Indian-style Hakka (I assume this is what you're looking for, not the blander Hakka that originates from the mainland).
Personally, I prefer his brother's place, Hot Wok, in Scarborough, and I travel from Bathurst&Steeles once a week to eat there. The food is outstanding, the food flavours well defined and unique, the atmosphere and service is beyond compare.
The owners are possibly the friendliest and chattiest of any restaurant in the GTA, and always willing to cook the food to suit your tastes (and they have the experience to do it properly).
If you don't enjoy spices, Indian and others, or if you want standard Chinese fare, like spring rolls and ma-po tofu and chow mein, go to one of the dozens of average Chinese places that do these things near wherever you live.
chinese new year dinner
Most Chinese restaurants offer New Year's dinner, and eating out if far more fun (otherwise, it's just another day at home).
Look around your area, go in and check out the menus (most places have a set meal menus for New Year, for medium to large groups). If you're a couple, you'll probably want to order a la carte, so check that regular menu.
Order whatever sounds good.
If a small group/couple, avoid large places that cater to big groups - look for places that normally cater to tables of 2-4. Large places often do specific dishes well, especially those sought by large groups (like whole fish, whole chicken/duck, expensive/large sized dishes), but their general menu fare is often mediocre.
And make a reservation or two, or be prepared to wait in line....
Query: Getting good meat/bbq delivered to Buffalo Grove
Preamble: I haven't been to Chicago in 3 decades, and if I ask the person I'm sending this to, they'll insist on not getting anything (and they're the only Chi-towners I know).
I've been looking to spend up to $100 to get some meals/food delivered to a couple who can't get around easily right now (surgeries for both).
Vegetable, fruit, sweet platters are all out of the question - we're talking about big time beef eaters. They've already gotten deli trays, so I was hoping for something special, like BBQ meats or specialty meats (like venison/buffalo).
Ideally, a place that delivers and has gift certificates would be best, so that the choice of what to get is up to the recipients.
The location to be delivered to is Buffalo Grove (/Arlington Heights), which may be far for some places.
I've done some searching (esp. on metromix), and Smoque BBQ looks promising (if they'll deliver). Most other well-rated BBQ joints either do not serve beef/brisket or don't seem to offer catering.
If anyone knows of other good places that are either local to Buffalo Grove or cater, including online caterers, please do mention them.
Jan 29, 2008
in Chicago Area