Clafouti Patisserie and Cafe brings a taste of "La Vie en Rose" right to Queen Street West. Behind the unassuming little storefront, right across from Trinity-Bellwoods Park, lies some of the most sublime baking this city has ever tasted.
Brothers Olivier Jansen-Reynaud and Boris Dosne have opened an authentic boulangerie like the ones they grew up with in Amiens, France. Olivier says, "We really didn't want this place to be strictly a bakery. We wanted it to be a real neighbourhood place where people could come in on a daily basis and pick up a croissant and coffee for breakfast or a freshly made sandwich for lunch, as well as that special occasion cake or tarte."
In the few short years they've been open, they have done exactly that, creating a place that has become not only a daily stop for the community, but also a destination for those that can't get enough of their fantastic breads, tartes and pastry. Every morning, the tiny shop's cases and shelves are filled with a huge array of mouthwatering delicacies - boules, baguettes, batards, brioche, croissants, sandwiches, wraps, tartes, cakes and their namesake, clafouti. For those unfamiliar, a clafouti is a classic country French dessert of fruit, traditionally unpitted cherries, topped with a custard batter. Here, the brothers' clafoutis come in a huge variety of delicious fruit flavours.
When we visited, the line of customers had just begun to snake out the door and many of their signature items were already sold out for the day. Gone were the to die for croissants in several of their signature flavours - fig, apricot, brown sugar and raspberry. But no need to worry, we still had dozens of treats, both sweet and savoury to choose from.
Christy, one of the great staff people behind the counter, helped us fill up a box with delicious treats - plain croissants for the purists, pain au chocolat filled with rich dark chocolate and a mushroom asiago croissant that is a meal in itself. We almost skipped the Papilion Mirabelle, but we were told this one was really special - flaky pastry filled with creamy custard and studded with delicate preserved Mirabelle plums imported from France. Christy was right, this one ended up being the hands-down favourite.
We knew we couldn't leave without picking-up one of their gourmet sandwiches for lunch - tuna nicoise, roast beef and emmental cheese, Louisiana BBQ pulled pork. All looked great but the lady behind us in line with her two kids told us we'd be kicking ourselves if we didn't try the chicken curry with walnuts and mango on mini-baguette. Taking her advice, we tried this unique take on the classic chicken salad sandwich and without any exaggeration can say this was one of the best sandwiches we've ever had.
When we first saw the huge selection of little tartes we couldn't believe anything so pretty could also be so delicious. The varieties are too numerous to mention, but some of our favourites are the raspberry-pomegranate clafouti, the chocolate pear tarte (great combo), the truly stunning fresh fig tarte and the classic Baba au Rhum. At just $2.50 to $3.05 each, we recommend trying as many as you can and deciding on your own favourites.
To compliment all the wonderful baked goods, Clafouti has a wide variety of coffee, tea and juice, as well as a lovely selection of imported dry goods, mostly from France. Biscuits, crackers, chocolate, nougat, sea salt and preserves are just some of the items available. "We picked the things we loved as children in France," says Olivier.
One visit to Clafouti Patisserie and Cafe and we guarantee you will be hooked - we were. They are open Tuesday through Saturday from 8 AM to 6 PM and on Sunday from 9 AM to 5 PM.
Clafouti Patisserie & Cafe
915 Queen Street West