Pain Perdu may mean "Lost Bread", but what a great find! A classic boulangerie and patisserie, Pain Perdu offers the most authentic French bread and pastries in Toronto. The small storefront located on St. Clair Avenue West, (just west of Christie) is quickly becoming a popular destination, not only for the local community but for the entire city as well, and owners Yannick and Christophe Folgoas couldn't be happier.
First-time business owners, the Folgoas brothers bring a great deal of experience and heritage to their new venture. Raised in the restaurant business in their hometown in the Southwest Basque region of France, Yannick runs the front of house while Christophe is the Executive Patissier.
This enchanting shop has a rustic yet sophisticated Parisian ambience. The large wooden counter, its cases filled with pastries, tarts, cakes, quiches and breads, dominates one side of the room. On the other are eight cozy tables, perfect for sitting and enjoying a lazy breakfast, light lunch or decadent snack.
Glance at the hand-written blackboard menu that hangs over the counter and you will be transported across the Atlantic. Gorgeous croissants, chocolatine, brioche, pain aux raisins and polonnais are all irresistible. Made with only the best ingredients, these buttery pastries are truly the real thing. Just ask regular customer Judy Pelham. "I've become addicted to their almond croissants," she says. "I wish I could come here every morning."
The shop also sells a huge variety of stunning gâteaux including the Folgoas' hometown favourite the Gâteau Basque, fruit tarts, cream filled pastries, cookies and chocolates. Since opening, they have become quite well known for their mille-feuille. In fact, this cream and custard filled pastry has become so popular that if you want to try one you had better arrive early because they sell out everyday.
Along with all the wonderful sweets, Pain Perdu offers savory items as well. Fantastic quiches come in a variety of flavours: Lorraine, leek and Roquefort, smoked salmon, asparagus and dill - the soft eggy custard encased in a crisp flaky crust. The caramelized onion tart, also known as pissaladière, has a buttery puff pastry base and is our particular favourite. Available by the slice, 1/2 or whole, they are great to take home or sit and enjoy a piece with a fresh garden salad right in the bakery. Or, enjoy a sandwich made on the fantastic baguette.
If, like us, you are wondering about the name, "Pain Perdu", Yannick is happy to explain. "Pain Perdu's straight translation is 'lost bread', but in France it is the name given to our version of French toast. The recipe originated as a use for the stale leftover bread. This was my most favourite breakfast when I was growing up in France. My grandmother would make it for us every Sunday," Yannick says with a nostalgic grin.
This rich dish differs from North American French toast in that it is baked, much more like a bread pudding, rather than pan-fried. Here they make it with their leftover baguette, which is soaked in an egg and cream custard, studded with raisins and baked, until golden and puffed. They serve it traditionally with homemade crème anglaise, maple syrup and fresh berries. Try it once and we guarantee that just like Yannick, this will become your favourite breakfast as well.
While everything they make at Pain Perdu is absolutely wonderful, part of the joy of going there comes from the warm and friendly staff who is as passionate about French baking and pastry making as Yannick and Christophe are. They are definitely part of the reason why the bakery has such an inviting atmosphere. While we were there, we met Jonathan Folgoas, the charming young nephew who just moved here from France to work with his uncles, and Amanda Weingarten, a trained pastry chef herself. Both Jonathan and Amanda have a real rapport with the customers and describe Pain Perdu as just a "happy place" to be.
So whether you come to Pain Perdu to have a treat, or swing by to pick up a quiche and croissants for a fabulous brunch "chez vous", a visit to this delicious unpretentious gem might just make your day.
Pain Perdu is open from 7 AM to 7:30 PM Tuesday through Friday, 7 AM to 5 PM Saturday, 7 AM to 4 PM Sunday, and although normally closed on Mondays, they will be open from 9 AM to 5 PM through the month of December.
736 St. Clair Avenue West
Phone: 416.656.PAIN (7246)