Mon Paris Patisserie

The first review that I’ve ever written on this blog was for Fondway Cafe (which was a complete bust). On my way there however, I did pass by another shop that caught my eye: Mon Paris. Apparently, they are a relatively new place that (according to their website) opened just this year. I’ve finally had a chance to visit them this week. They offer some really gorgeous-looking cakes and tarts, as well as chocolates and croissants. For my visit I tried their Russian Honey, Pistachio Turnover, and Opera.

Russian Honey ($6):


4.5/5
This consisted of two thin layers of honey-flavoured cake sandwiching a layer of honey mousse and topped with a thick layer of vanilla mousse and whipped cream. Both layers of mousse were smooth and creamy, and sublty sweet. The cake and mousse both had a good assertive honey flavour, which I really liked. The whipped cream topping was fresh and sweet, and speckled with bits of vanilla.

Pistachio Turnover ($3.5):


3/5
The dough was flaky and enjoyable enough, though it pales somewhat in comparison to other places like Beaucoup or Small Victory. Although there was a generous amount of pistachio filling present, I personally found the filling to be a bit on the bland side without any real distinctive flavour. Even though I did like this, it isn’t really particularly memorable.

Opera ($6):


4/5
This consisted of a thick layer of coffee mousse sandwiched between two layers of coffee cake with a thinner layer of chocolate mousse topped with a bittersweet chocolate ganache. I was initially caught off guard by the flavour: the dessert wasn’t sweet at all, but had a mild bitter taste. The dessert did grow on me however as I continued on eating. Once again, the layers of mousse were smooth and velvety, with great assertive chocolate and coffee flavours. Unfortunately, I didn’t really enjoy the cake layers as much: they were bland and had a slightly rubbery texture. This is definitely something for those who enjoy coffee or prefer their desserts to be on the bittersweet side.

Although nothing completely blew me away, I did enjoy everything at Mon Paris, especially the Russian Honey and, unlike Fondway, I certainly have no regrets for my visit. While I do find their prices to be a tad on the higher side, everything seems to be made with great ingredients and attention to detail, so I think that it’s worthwhile. I really hope that this Mon Paris does well; I’d love to come back to sample some of their other pretty desserts.

Summary:
Food: 4/5
Value/Service: 3/5
Overall: 3.5/5
Recommendations: Russian Honey
Mon Paris Patisserie Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Butter Baked Goods – Perfect name, almost-perfect goods

Last week I reviewed one of the more strangely named bakeries in Batard (i.e. Bastard). This week, I had the chance to visit one of the most perfectly named bakeries in Butter Baked Goods – because what’s a more important ingredient in baked goods than butter? Well, maybe flour or sugar (screw all the anti-carb, Gluten Free and Paleo bandwagoners, I’m sure in another 10 years we’ll have found some other food group/nutrient to demonize), but butter has to be a close third and a bakery named Butter automatically has my interest.

Now, I don’t usually notice or care about the appearance/atmosphere of places much seeing that I almost always take my food to go, but this has to be one of the prettiest bakeries that I’ve visited, with colourful walls, shelves and furnature. Even their good are cute and clearly play to childhood nostalgia: colourful cookies and bars, marshmallows and cupcakes. For my visit, I got their Dunbar, Peanut Butter Marshmallow Slice, and Peanut Butter Cookie Sandwich.

The Dunbar ($3.5)

Our most popular bar… an oatmeal base with loads of chocolate, pecans, coconut and dulce du lece (Mexican caramel) in the middle

4.5/5
From appearance alone, it really didn’t look like much, so I’m surprised by how much I ended up enjoying the bar. All of the components and flavours in the bar worked very well together and were absolutely delicious. It had a layer of chocolate chips that was topped by a delcious layer of thick, sweet dulce de leche. The streussel topping, which contained oatmeal, pecans and coconut was crunchy, buttery and had a nice hint of salt that complemented the sweetness of the chocolate and caramel. I did find the pecans to be a bit on the raw side and I do wish that the coconut flavour was a bit more promient.

Peanut Butter Marshmallow Slice ($2.25)

We used to only sell this one during the Christmas season but our customers demanded it year round

4/5
It basically consisted of their plain, house-made (vanilla?) marshmallows mixed together with a peanut butter frosting. I’m not a marshmallow connoisseur; I thought that theirs was fine – soft, fluffy and mildly sweet. What makes the slice special was their peanut butter frosting. It had a great peanut flavour and a perfect balance between sweet and salty.

Peanut Butter Cookie Sandwich ($4)

“Two big soft peanut butter cookies with a creamy peanut butter filling… for serious peanut butter lovers

5/5
I had pretty high expectations for this cookie, and fortunately, I wasn’t disappointed. The cookies themselves were soft and almost melted in my mouth. The peanut butter filling was quite different from their marshmallow slice – it was fluffier, less sweet, and didn’t have as a strong peanut flavour. Eaten separately, I found that both the cookie and the frosting to be a bit weak in flavour and almost bland. However, when eaten together (as the sandwich is clearly meant to), the flavours just build and combine to form the perfect bite.

If you couldn’t already tell, I really liked this bakery. All of the treats that I’ve sampled have been good, if not fantastic. This is a place that I can see myself coming back to many times in the future.

Summary
Food: 4.5/5
Value/Service: 4/5
Overall: 4.5/5
Recommendations: The Dunbar (or any of their other delicious-looking bars), Peanut Butter Cookie Sandwich (they also have an Oreo version, which I’m sure is also delicious)

Butter Baked Goods Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Cartem’s Donuts – The day I sold my soul for donuts

There’s an episode of The Simpsons where Homer decided to sell his soul to the Devil (who ironically turned out to be Flanders) for a donut. As idiotic as that decision was, I ended up pratically doing the same thing today when I visited Cartems Donuts. Not literally of course, since I have no idea of whether souls or the Devil exists, and even if they did, I certainly wouldn’t trade my soul for a donut (as much as I do enjoy them). Metaphorically. Let me explain. *Rant Alert (just skip to the pictures if you’re uninterested)*. Easily the number one current health/food fad that I cannot stnad is the gluten-free fad. Okay, I do recognize that there are people with actual problems with gluten; hell, I have a friend whose mother has recently been diagnosed with Celiac’s. However, at the rate that the gluten free market is expanding right now you’d think that half of the population have gluten allergies as opposed to the actual 1-3%. In other words, the vast majority of gluten free customers do not actually suffer from gluten issues, but are rather buying the products under the completely false believe that they’re somehow “healthier”. They’re not. Look, I don’t mind being proven wrong, and if there’s new evidence showing that avoiding gluten do in fact benefit “normal” people, I’ll gladly go back on my opinion. As of right now however, no such evidence exists, and the only thing that I see are false marketing and widespread misinformation. *End Rant*.

So what does this have to do with Cartem’s Donuts? Well, when I visited their Main St. location today, I found much to my disappointment that their shelves were partically empty. They only had only a few varieties of their regular donuts available, most of which did not look very interesting. However, they did have some of their more exciting flavours available in vegan/gluten free versions (which at $3.5 cost $0.25 more than their regular donuts). Faced with the choice of either going empty-handed or going against my morals and lending support to a stupid fad that I cannot stand, I ended up chosing the latter (yes I’m weak). I got their Smoked Maple Walnut (vegan), their Salted Caramel Donut (vegan and gluten free) and their Earl Grey Donut (conventional).

Seriously, that’s all the donuts you got?

Smoked Maple Walnut (vegan version, $3.5):

dav
3.5/5
The dough was cakey, tender and moist, but had a slightly weird “eggy” scent (which is ironic considering that it’s vegan). It was sweet, which was fine by me as I love sugar. The walnuts lent a really nice crunch, and definitely had a strong smokey flavour. Personally, I’m not sure whether the smokiness worked for the donut, but it was definitely unique.

Salted Caramel (vegan & gluten free version, $3.5):

dav
3.5/5
I don’t know if it’s due to the fact that it’s gluten free, but the donut was very soft as in I could hardly pick it up without it falling apart in my hands. Fortunately, it tasted a lot better than I had anticipated. The dough was soft, moist and cakey, and had a nice rich chocolate flavour. Although I couldn’t really detect much caramel flavour in the glaze (it just tasted like a plain glaze to me), it definitely had a good hit of a salt that paired well with the overall sweetness of the donut.

Earl Grey (conventional, $3.25):

dav
4/5
The only conventional (i.e. non-vegan/gluten-free) donut that I got. The dough was much firmer than that of the salted caramel (so I could actually pick it up without fear of it falling apart on me), but was still cakey and soft. I’m quite impressed to find that the glaze did indeed have a pretty strong Earl Grey scent. I did find the doughnut to be a bit bland however: without the glaze on top the dough itself was largely flavourless.

As much as I would love to rip apart some of the donuts, I do still need to maintain some credibility, and the truth is that I did actually enjoy everything, gluten-free or not. Of course, fairly or not, I cannot resist comparing Cartem’s to Lucky’s, which were just a few blocks away. I will say that the donuts at Cartem’s had much bolder flavours than Lucky’s, which I found to be too subtle, even borderline bland. However, I do prefer the dough from Lucky’s, and they certainly do a MUCH better job at keeping their shelves stocked. While I do find both places to be over-hyped, I still enjoyed my visits enough to want to return in the future.

Summary:
Food: 3.5/5
Value/Service: 2/5
Overall: 2.75/5
Recommendations: Earl Grey Donut
Cartems Donuterie Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Batard Boulangerie & Cafe Moderne

I may have forgotten about 99% of the French that I’ve learned in highschool, but I do know that “batard” translates to “bastard” in English. Bastard Bakery? I’ve got to give props to the owners for going with such a bold, if not unusual, name (and I wonder if there’s any reason/story behind it). I’ve passed by the bakery a couple of times while traveling down Fraser St. but have never had the chance to visit until today. The place seems to be quite popular and there was a good lineup when I stepped in at around 10 o’clock in the morning. Service was reasonably efficient however, and I didn’t have to wait for too long to order. They don’t really have a big selection in terms of baked goods, although they do also offer various breakfast/lunch items such as toasts, sandwiches, and quiches. I’ve sampled their Financier, Salted Chocolate Rye Cookie and Cinnamon Orange Morning Bun.

Financier ($4):

4/5
This is the first time that I’ve had a financier cake. I guess the best way to describe this is something in between a muffin and a cupcake: it’s sweeter and richer than a muffin but firmer than a cupcake. It was very moist, sweet and had a nice fragance. There were a few cherries inside that lent a welcomed tartness. It was small however, and quite pricey at $4.

Salted Chocolate Rye Cookie ($2):

dav

4.5/5
I loved the texture of the cookie: it had a nice crispy interior and a wonderful soft, chewy interior. It had a great rich and fudgy chocolate flavour that was well enahcned by the added salt. This is one of the better cookies that I’ve had. My only complaint is that it was very small and overpriced at $2.

Cinnamon Orange Morning Bun ($4):

dav

3/5
This is essentially a croissant that has been covered in orange/cinnamon sugar and rolled up like a cinnamon bun. The pastry might have been sitting out for a while for I found it to be a little soggy. I liked the orange/cinnamon sugar, but found that there wasn’t enough of it present. The dough itself was actually salty, making the entire bun more salty than sweet. Although not quite the same thing, I really much prefer the croissant-style cinnnamon bun from Small Victory Bakery.

I quite enjoyed my visit to Batard. While nothing blew me away, I think that most of the offerings are pretty solid, and I’m glad to have finally checked this place out.

Summary:
Food:
4/5
Value/Service:
3/5
Overall:
3.5/5
Recommendations:
Salted Chocolate Rye Cookie
Batard Boulangerie and Cafe Moderne Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Doughgirls – Where have you been all my life?

I’ve been going to UBC for 7 years now, and I have to admit that I barely know any of the shops or eateries around the place. This is mostly because I’ve spent the majority of my time there as a broke student who relied on either bringing my own lunch or getting value pick burgers from the McDonalds at UBC village (although I am partial to the occassional honey sesame chicken from the Manchu Wok that used to exist in the old SUB). Now that I’ve become a slightly less broke graduate student, I’ve begun exploring more of the eateries that are located near campus. For this week, I decided to visit Doughgirls, which is a bakery/cafe locate at Westbrook Village. In spite of being relatively small in size, they offer a pretty impressive assortment of both sweets (cookies, muffins, cakes, pies etc) and savouries (sandwiches, quiches, meat pies) that varies by the season. For my visit, I got a slice of the cake and the pie that they had on display. Unfortunately they didn’t label either of the desserts so I’m not really sure what each of the prices are (the total came to $11, so I assume that they are $5.5 a piece). I know that the pie was Lemon Chamomile, but I don’t know the name of the cake, other than it was chocolate.

Lemon Chamomile Pie ($5.5ish?)


5/5
Refreshing is probably the best word to describe this pie. It contained a creamy sweet filling that had a really nice bright lemon flavour. The crust was crumbly and similar to a shortbread, which I actually liked since it did not get soggy. I would have liked there to be a bit more tang as it is supposed to be a lemon pie and I didn’t really detect any of the chamomile flavour (although I don’t think that chamomile has much flavour to begin with).

“Chocolate Coconut” Cake ($5.5ish?)


4.5/5
The cake was quite moist and contained a layer of coconut filling, which lent a great fragrance. It was covered in a mildly sweet buttercream frosting that seemed to have a bit of coffee flavour and contained walnuts (or pecans), which added a nice crunch. I did find the frosting to be a bit greasy and I personally would have liked all the flavours to be a bit stronger. It was still a very good cake though.

I’m quite impressed by the offerings that I’ve tried at Doughgirls. Thanks to their convenient location near UBC, I’ll certainly be visiting them again on my way to/from work.
Doughgirls Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato