Location: 120 Dundas Street West, Toronto
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).
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.
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.
Location: 195 North Queen Street, Etobicoke
The world tour (via McDonald’s) continues! And after the sub-par Chinese Szechuan Burger, this one’s actually not bad.
McDonald’s attempt at French cuisine is the Creme Brulee McFlurry: vanilla soft serve with caramelized sugar bits and “Crème Brûlée sauce” mixed in.
I guess ice cream is harder to mess up than a hamburger (or I have a higher tolerance for mediocre ice cream), because I enjoyed this.
There’s no custard flavour here — the sauce and the caramelized sugar bits are both trying to replicate the crispy shell of a creme brulee rather than the entire dessert. But it’s tasty enough for what it is; the sugar retains its texture even when mixed into the ice cream, and the sauce has a surprisingly rich, almost burnt caramel flavour. The whole thing is too sweet and the ice cream isn’t the best, but it’s not bad.
Location: 477 Queen Street West, Toronto
I guess those stupid overpriced macarons from Ladurée in Yorkdale have ruined other ones for me. Because I just ate a couple from Butter Avenue, and they were pretty good, but I couldn’t help but compare them to Ladurée — and they came up short.
I tried the pistachio and the raspberry white chocolate, and there certainly wasn’t anything wrong with either. The pistachio had a really enjoyable nutty flavour, and the raspberry white chocolate featured a delicious raspberry jam centre surrounded by creamy white chocolate. They were both quite tasty.
But the flavours just couldn’t compare to what they were serving at Ladurée, and the texture was overly dense and chewy, in stark contrast to the almost ethereal lightness of Ladurée’s version.
They were three bucks each, which is certainly less than the almost four that they’re charging at Ladurée, but not exactly cheap. If you’re already spending three bucks on a tiny macaron, you may as well spend the extra dollar and get the superior version.
The macarons from Ladurée were delicious. You probably shouldn’t eat them.
I got four of them, and they cost about 15 bucks with tax ($14.92, actually), and seriously: get the hell out of here with those prices. I don’t care if you’re using the highest of high-end ingredients, there’s no way to justify charging $3.73 each for these tiny little things.
They are quite good, though. I tried hazelnut, pistachio, salted caramel and coconut lime.
They were amazing; maybe the best macarons I’ve ever had. The texture was the perfect contrast of crispy, airy, and creamy, and the flavours were uniformly great. Even the coconut lime, which I was kind of skeptical about, was top notch. It had a really satisfying coconut flavour, with a mild zinginess from the lime that never overwhelms.
But those prices? Nope.
Can that be my whole review? Just meh? It’s my blog, so yeah, it can. But fine, I’ll expand on that a little bit.
Nugateau is a fancy eclair place that is (for now, at least) in the Concept section of Yorkdale Mall (they have a permanent location on Queen Street as well).
I tried a pistachio and a salted caramel eclair, and they were both fine, I guess — but if I’m paying six or seven bucks for an eclair the size of a spring roll, I kinda want to be blown away. Nothing about the custardy filling in either of these things particularly stood out in any meaningful way.
Worse, they both tasted like they had been filled way in advance. The pastry was… well, “mushy” might be overstating it, but it had seen better days, that’s for sure.