A Mediocre Croissant at Gouter

GouterLocation: 3507 Bathurst Street, North York
Websitehttp://www.gouter.ca/

I assumed I was in good hands when the woman behind the counter at Gouter spoke with a heavy French accent.  Not that every French person can automatically make delicious pastries, but it made me think that the place was probably legit.

Yeah, about that.

Gouter

I had the raspberry croissant, and it was fine.  I certainly didn’t dislike eating it.  But there wasn’t a single element that was better than okay.

The first sign that something was amiss was the paper bag it came in.  The croissant was in there for about twenty minutes before I ate it.  A good croissant should be buttery enough to immediately leave grease stains on a paper bag, but that bag was pristine.

Gouter

The second sign that something was amiss came when I tore it in half and saw that it was filled with about a jar’s worth of raspberry jam.  That’s too much jam.  And I mean, it wasn’t unpleasant to eat, but there’s no balance there.

And as suspected, the croissant — though mildly buttery — wasn’t nearly buttery enough.  It also had zero exterior crispiness other than at the very ends, and was generally lacking in flavour.

Gouter

The overall experience was basically like eating a slice of Wonder Bread slathered with raspberry jam.  There just wasn’t much to it — the lack of textural contrast and the one-note flavour was a bit of a bummer.

Quality Pasta (and Even Better Dessert) at Terroni

TerroniLocation: 1095 Yonge Street, Toronto
Websitehttp://www.terroni.com/

I didn’t think it was possible to be offended by a bread plate, but Terroni proved me wrong.

The bread plate at Terroni costs six dollars.  And fine — I understand that restaurant margins are dangerously thin, and that charging for bread is increasingly becoming a thing.

Terroni

The issue is that the plate comes with three tiny, dried-out slices of over-toasted white bread with a few drops of olive oil sprinkled on, four pieces of taralli (which is essentially an Italian breadstick), a small handful of olives, and… that’s it.  No butter, no olive oil, just mediocre bread and a few olives.  For six bucks.  Get the hell out of here with that.

Terroni

Thankfully, the rest of the meal was much better.

I had the Garganelli Geppetto, which is a pasta dish that comes with “dandelions, homemade spicy italian sausage, fontina, parmigiano, extra-virgin olive oil.”

Terroni

A dish like this is a bit of a tightrope walk — the “sauce” is essentially oil, so it’s going to be somewhat greasy by default.  But this one goes a bit too far, and feels oilier than it should be.

Still, it’s a tasty dish — the sausage is above average and has a mild spicy bite; the cheese adds a good amount of saltiness and a mild funk, not to mention some gooey meltiness; and the pasta itself is perfectly cooked and satisfying.  It’s good stuff.

Terroni

I can’t remember the name of the dessert and I can’t find it on the menu online, but it was essentially a croissant filled with Nutella, hazelnut gelato, and whipped cream.  It was easily the highlight of the meal.  It was shockingly delicious; the Nutella and the creamy gelato (which adds even more hazelnut flavour) go amazingly well together, and the tasty croissant is a perfect vehicle.

Ice cream cones are officially dead to me — I want all my ice cream in a croissant from now on.

Bacon Maple Chicken Sandwich at Wendy’s

Bacon Maple Chicken Sandwich from Wendy'sLocation: 1569 The Queensway, Etobicoke
Websitehttps://www.wendys.com/en-ca/home

I actually quite like Wendy’s.  I mean, it’s still a fast food chain, so it’s not great — but it’s one of the better ones.

Well, usually, at least.

The Bacon Maple Chicken Sandwich definitely isn’t their finest hour.  It’s a fried chicken sandwich served on a croissant bun and topped with Swiss cheese, maple glaze, and bacon.

It’s super sweet and super dry, and I just did not enjoy eating it at all.

Bacon Maple Chicken Sandwich from Wendy's

The “maple glaze” is basically just thick, sludgy maple syrup.  It’s intensely sweet and far too overwhelming for a sandwich like this.  The mildly spicy chicken patty (you can get spicy or original) helps to balance out the sweetness a little bit, but it’s not nearly enough to overcome the sugar overload.

Everything else is dry.  The fried chicken patty is dry, the “croissant” bun is dry (and aside from the cosmetic, it has zero croissant-like properties), the completely unmelted cheese is dry — even the bacon is dry.  I like crispy bacon as much as the next guy, but the glass-like strips in this sandwich were taking it a bit too far.

It really needed additional sauce to give it moisture, but adding more of the maple glaze would pretty much be instant diabetes.  The whole thing is head-scratchingly misguided.

Amazing Almond Croissants at Patisserie la Cigogne

Patisserie la CigogneLocation: 1626 Bayview Avenue, Toronto
Websitehttps://patisserielacigogne.com/

I don’t have much to say about the almond croissant at Patisserie la Cigogne other than that it was delicious and you should eat it.

It was really good, though.

I mean, almond croissants are just generally great; if they’re done well, they’re an amazing combo of crunchy, crispy, buttery, and sweet.  And I honestly can’t remember the last time I had one this good — the croissant was flaky and super buttery, and there’s a very generous amount of the sweet almond filling.

Patisserie la Cigogne

I mean, look at all that filling that’s oozed out and become crunchy and caramelized.  The best.  There’s also a generous amount of filling inside the croissant that’s nutty and creamy and sweet.  Also the best.

(The whole thing was pretty much the best, so like I said earlier, you should probably go eat one.)

Lemon Meringue Croissant from Butter Baker

Butter BakerLocation: 120 Dundas Street West, Toronto
Websitehttps://butter-baker.com/

The lemon meringue croissant from Butter Baker is one of those things that I saw on Instagram and immediately had to eat.  And yes, I know: this makes me part of the problem.

A very strong argument could be made that social media (Instagram in particular) is making our cuisine appreciably worse by incentivizing restaurants to serve visually innovative food in which the actual taste is an afterthought (e.g. Sweet Jesus).

Butter Baker

And that’s absolutely the case here.  I mean, look at that!  It looks so impressive!  But it gets less impressive once you start actually eating it.

For one thing, it’s almost impossible to eat without getting sticky meringue all over your face.  But let’s set that complaint aside, because a lot of cupcakes are just as hard to eat without making a mess, and only a monster would argue that a cupcake isn’t great.

Butter Baker

The two main issues here are that the croissant itself is merely okay, and the lemon curd  filling is completely bland.  The latter point is especially egregious; the whole appeal of a lemon meringue pie is the delightful way that the tartness of the lemon curd is offset by the sweetness of the meringue.  But here, the curd is disappointingly anemic, with a limp sugariness and almost no sour bite.  Because of this, the whole thing comes off as one-dimensionally sweet and boring.

I will, however, give Butter Baker props for the use of creamy Italian meringue over frothy, dull French meringue.  This is correct; French meringue is for jerks.