Monday, June 27, 2011

Store Review: Patisserie La Cigogne

Finally, a great french pastry shop along the Danforth opens up.  This is the second location of the patisserie.  It has opened up in a location that was used briefly by an Italian restaurant and before that it was a long time Greek family restaurant.

The place is set up like a pastry or doughnut shop.  You want in and see the display cases across the back with ample room for sitting and the requisite Van Houtte carafes.  It could easily be mistaken for a Montreal style mom and pop bakery but the pastries are more refined.  On the day that I picked up some danishes, it had been very humid.  Even in that weather, the pastry was light and very tasty.  There was not a lot of crunch to the outside and therefore little in the way of contrasting textures.  The weather gives them a pass for that.  The only issue was the filling. It tasted too sweet and too similar to the type of filling that can be found on store bought pastry.  However, this turns out to be my only real criticism.

The cookie that needs no name did not spawn recollection of my childhood at my aunt's drinking tea in the cool of a summer afternoon nor did it devolve into crumbly letters and phonemes to extend to seven volumes of recollections and end unfinished in 1.5 million words.  It was good.  Bit dry.  Needed tea.  It was probably just as good as Proust's mother's madeleine -- which also needed tea.

The impressive bit comes with the slices or gateaux or goodies.  The part that I am always struck with french pastries is the use of different textures and flavours that are layered or filled or constructed in some architectural and interesting ways.  Jelly is placed on top of delicate cookies and mousses are extruded and covered in nuts.  Some times it is all a bit precious.  We tried four different gateaux and any with mousse were fantastic.  These guys can do mousse well.  My family loved three of the four slices that we picked (Symphony - three chocolate mousses layered with a fruit puree on top, The Flute  -- lime mouse and pistachios on a rum soaked cookie and Bacarra  -- pistachio and peaches.)  None of these felt overly precious.  The fourth just didn't appeal to my young sons or my wife.  I found that the flavours were a little jarring but that is probably more due to the alcohol, fruits and chocolate.  Done well but not one that I liked.

If I could imagine that a middle class in Vienna could go out to the opera with their kids and end up in this type of pastry shop drinking coffee and relaxing while the kids wolfed down these slices then it is not so far to reach to think that this is the perfect place to do the twentieth century equivalent.  After Karate, Kumon or seeing some street event, this is a great place.  Hell, even before or better yet ... during.

I haven't mentioned that they do sandwiches, crepes and tortiere.  We, as a family, will be going back to try some of this.  Who doesn't love a meat pie with ketchup?  That is the most important part of this place.  It lets you feel comfortable and eat as you like without talking down to you in terms of its food.  There are many gourmet shops that could take a good lesson from the end of the day, it is food.  Meant to be eaten and enjoyed.

Patisserie la Cigogne on Urbanspoon

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