Location: 1425 Dundas Street East, Mississauga
Mr. Puffs is a chain that specializes in fried doughnut holes — they’re basically Greek-style loukoumades, though the menu and website never uses that word, referring to them only as puffs.
The puffs come topped with various sauces and flavours; the woman behind the counter said that honey cinnamon and sugar cinnamon are the two most popular, so I got six of each (an order of 12, which comes out to about eight bucks, is the smallest you can get).
This location has just opened, so I’m going to give them the benefit of the doubt and say that they’re still working out the kinks. This style of doughnut is generally soaked in syrup, but the syrup was just drizzled on here, resulting in a final product that was just barely sweet (and the sugar cinnamon variety had the same issue). The doughnuts mostly tasted of the oil they were fried in.
I also think that the oil might have been a bit too hot, because the exterior was aggressively crispy (I could barely put a fork through it) and the interior was soft and gummy.
Still, despite the issues, it’s a fun concept — assuming they work out the kinks, it’s definitely worth checking out.
Location: 2883 Lake Shore Boulevard West, Etobicoke
The Sydney Grind is a delightful Australian-themed coffee shop that serves a bunch of tasty-looking pastries. One of those pastries: the lamington, an Australian specialty that features yellow cake coated in chocolate and coconut.
It’s quite tasty. I mean, how could it not be? It’s just plain cake with chocolate and coconut — all tasty stuff.
Well, I guess you could mess it up by making a bad quality cake or using shoddy chocolate, but that’s clearly not the case here. The cake is tasty and moist, and the chocolate/coconut combo is expectedly delicious.
Location: 359 Rue Bernard Ouest, Montreal, Quebec
Every time I’ve had a babka or a babka-like dessert, it’s been okay at best (or much, much worse — the chocolate buffalo from Bagel Nash comes to mind). So I didn’t have particularly high hopes for the chocolate babka at Boulangerie Cheskie, but after seeing it on a few lists of the best bakeries in Montreal, I figured I’d give it a shot.
I guess I’m going to have to start figuring out where the best babka in Toronto can be procured, because who knew a babka could be this good??
It’s outstanding. I wish I had taken a picture of its glorious, glorious innards, because you really don’t get a sense of how incredible this thing is just by looking at the outside. It’s chewy, fresh, and amazingly fudgy– Eater referred to it as “the love child of a brownie and brioche roll,” and yeah, that’s about right. It’s gooey and chocolatey and addictive.
I guess I’m glad that this bakery is several hundred kilometres away, because I could eat about a million of these. As soon as I finished it I was extremely tempted to head back inside and buy another one, but there was other food to eat, so I restrained myself.
Location: 386 Royal York Road, Toronto
Remember Beard Papa? Because I certainly do! That was (and still is, though their only Canadian locations are in Vancouver) a delightful Japanese chain that specialized in delicious cream puffs. They used to have a location in the Pacific Mall, but then they broke hearts across the GTA by shutting down like a bunch of jerks.
Sadly, there’s no indication that they’re coming back anytime soon, but in the meanwhile, we’ve got Choux Lab.
Choux Lab serves up choux pastries (which are light and fluffy, with a crispy exterior) with a variety of fillings. The vanilla is probably the most Beard-Papa-esque, but they were actually handing out samples of that one, and it was delicious (and indeed, did remind me of Beard Papa, with a creamy, custardy filling), so I figured I’d order something else.
I went with the hazelnut, and it was very, very good. The filling was rich and ultra-creamy, with a great hazelnut flavour and a nice balance of sweetness — sweet, but not overwhelmingly so. Beard Papa used to fill their puffs to order, and I was worried that the pre-made ones they serve here might lack that great crispy/fluffy/creamy combo. But the one I tried wasn’t soggy at all, and all the textures were right where they should be.
Choux Lab is just a few stores over from San Remo, and I worry that everyone will just stick with the reliable deliciousness there and not give this place a shot. But everyone needs to check this place out; I need them to stick around forever and not break my heart like Beard Papa did.
Location: 4040 Creditview Road #1, Mississauga
Akko Cake House is a bit oddly named. They do have a handful of cakes at the front, but mostly, this is a fairly standard Chinese bakery with a whole bunch of sweet and savoury buns and tarts.
I tried a few sweet buns: coconut, custard, and walnut.
The pastry itself was quite good — it was fresh, a little bit sweet, and super fluffy.
I was intrigued about the walnut variety; I don’t recall ever seeing a walnut bun before, and I’ve certainly never tried one. It was fairly subtle, however, with a very thin layer of walnut paste and a few walnut chunks. It tasted more like a plain bun with a mild walnut flavour.
The custard was about what you’d expect. It was sweet, creamy, and tasty.
The coconut bun was where it was at. The generous filling was really tasty, with a nice coconut flavour. It also has a surprisingly strong hit of salt that does a great job of rounding out the sweetness. It’s really good. The bakery was packed (the line was to the door when I left), and with buns that good, it’s easy enough to see why.