Location: 224 Queen Street West, Toronto
Marvelous by Fred is a French bakery chain with a bunch of locations in Europe, the States, and, in the last couple of years, Canada. They have a handful of tasty looking desserts and sandwiches, but their specialty is the Merveilleux, a tasty combo of whipped cream and meringue.
They serve a few different varieties of this, but the classic is the dark chocolate, which the store describes as “dark chocolate whipped cream & dark chocolate shavings.”
It’s good. Obviously it’s good — it’s just a big pile of crispy meringue chunks held together by chocolate-infused whipped cream, and then covered in shaved dark chocolate and topped with more cream. You literally cannot go wrong with that. How could you?
It’s not mind-blowing, though. I know that its creation is likely more involved than it tastes, but it kinda feels like I could mix together meringue, whipped cream, and chocolate at home and wind up with largely the same result.
I’m almost certainly not giving the bakery enough credit, but I can’t say I’ve ever thought that about literally any dessert from a French bakery, so there’s that.
Location: 235 Spadina Avenue, Toronto
Dainties has just two things on their menu: standard macarons with a Korean bent, and macaron ice cream sandwiches. I tried one of the ice cream sandwiches, and not surprisingly, it’s tasty. It turns out that when you specialize in just one thing, you can do it very, very well.
They have a bunch of traditional flavours like vanilla and pistachio, along with more Korean/Asian-infused flavours. I went with black sesame, and I enjoyed it thoroughly.
I’m not sure where they source their ice cream from (or if they make it themselves), but it’s clearly good stuff — it’s nice and creamy, and the flavour is aces. The nutty, somewhat earthy flavour of the black sesame complements the sweet cookies perfectly. And those macaron cookies are great; the combo of the chewy cookies and the rich ice cream is a clear winner.
The only issue: they serve it way, way, way (way way way) too cold. I could barely even bite through it at first. I waited something like 10 minutes and it was still a bit too firm, but I only have so much willpower when I’ve got a delicious ice cream sandwich in my hands.
Location: 4 St. Patrick Street, Toronto
A mochi doughnut, for the unaware, is basically a regular doughnut, but with the addition of rice flour. This gives it a delightfully chewy texture that works better than you might expect. Even if you don’t like mochi, it’s worth a shot — the chewiness is definitely there, but it’s not particularly aggressive.
They have nine flavours at Isabella’s; they all looked tasty, but I went with the s’mores (“chocolate, toasted meringue, graham crackers”).
It’s really good. The chocolate glaze has a nice chocolatey flavour that isn’t too sweet, and while the fluffy toasted meringue isn’t super marshmallowy, it’s tasty and complements the chocolate well. I don’t think the graham cracker crumbs made much of a difference, but it’s tasty either way.
As for the doughnut itself, yeah, it’s good. The chewiness is just enough to set it apart from a standard doughnut, but not so much that it feels overwhelming. It’s really satisfying.
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.