Outstanding Pastries at Barbershop Patisserie

Barbershop Patisserie
Location
: 859 College Street, Toronto
Website: https://barbershoppatisserie.square.site/

I’m sorry to have to inform you, but this is one of those “stop whatever you’re doing right now and visit this bakery” moments, so whatever you’re doing right now — even if it’s important — stop it immediately.  Get in your car, or get on public transit, and head over to Barbershop Patisserie.  It’s the real deal.

Barbershop Patisserie

I’ve been there a few times now, and everything is fantastic.  Apparently their most popular pastry is the lemon bichon, which is kind of like a kouign-amann — it features a flaky, croissant-like laminated pastry and an exterior layer of crispy sugar, which has a deep, dark caramelized flavour.  But it’s also filled with a generous amount of creamy, tart lemon curd, which contrasts perfectly with the sweet exterior.  It’s not the most photogenic dessert ever, but man it’s amazing.  It’s probably one of the best pastries I’ve ever had.

Barbershop Patisserie

The chocolate chip cookie isn’t quite as mind-blowing as the lemon bichon (what is?), but it’s a top-notch cookie, with a great contrast between its crispy exterior and chewy interior, and a very generous amount of above average chocolate.  The light sprinkling of salt on top helps to balance things out.

Barbershop Patisserie

I also tried the wild blueberry custard tart, and hey, guess what?  It’s delicious.  It features a great balance between the creamy custard and the sweet blueberries, and of course that buttery pastry is outstanding.

Barbershop Patisserie

But why are you still reading this?  You should be on your way already.

Tasty Korean Stew at Insadong

Insadong
Location
: 4941 Dundas Street West, Etobicoke
Website: https://www.insadongrestaurant.com/

When you’re in the mood, there’s nothing that hits the spot quite like a hearty, flavourful, bubbling hot Korean stew.

(Well okay fine, as a person who generally doesn’t like food to be so hot that you’re at risk of burning yourself, I could do without the “bubbling hot” part — but since the hot stone bowl is part of the package, I guess I’ll allow it.)

Insadong

I ordered the ugeojikug, which the menu describes as “cabbage hangover soup made in a beef broth with rice.”

It’s very good.  The soup is absolutely crammed with cabbage and sliced beef, and the broth is slightly spicy and profoundly beefy.  The beef was a bit on the tough side, but everything else is so tasty that this is never a particularly big deal.  In particular, the soup itself has a very satisfying beefy flavour; they could have served that broth on its own and I would have left happy.

Quick Bites: Sarpa Restaurant, Burger Drops, El Pocho Antojitos Bar

Sarpa Restaurant
Franco Fries at Sarpa Restaurant

This place probably deserves more than a quick bite review, but it’s one of the many restaurants I visited while this blog was on hiatus, and this seems like it’s better than nothing.  I tried a few things here, and everything was quite good, but the highlight was clearly the Franco Fries: “hand cut fries, parmesan cheese, truffle-honey essence.”  This seems like an odd thing to order at an upscale Italian restaurant, but trust me — you need these fries in your life.  The fries themselves are perfectly cooked, with a crispy exterior and creamy interior, but it’s that truffle-honey essence that really makes these things sing.  I’m normally not crazy about anything with truffle oil (most truffle oils have never seen an actual truffle in their life), but this didn’t have that flavour at all; it was garlicky, a little bit sweet, and thoroughly addictive.

Burger Drops
Burger and a chicken sandwich from Burger Drops

I tried a couple of things at Burger Drops.  The first was the original burger, which features “griddled sweet onion, American cheese, house pickles, Drop sauce, toasted potato roll.”  It’s a solid burger — the patty has a nice crust, a decent beefy flavour, and the toppings suit it well.  It’s a bit on the dry side and nothing about it really jumped out at me, but it’s a tasty burger.  If I had been reviewing it for my burger blog, I’d give it a solid three out of four.  The other thing I tried was the chicken sandwich, which is odd, but tasty.  The odd thing about it: it’s not a traditional fried chicken sandwich.  Instead, it’s basically a gourmet McChicken, right down to the reconstituted chicken patty.  It’s a fun novelty and a big step above its fast food inspiration, but I’m not sure that I’d ever elect to eat this over a standard fried chicken sandwich.

El Pocho Antojitos Bar
Chilaquiles at El Pocho Antojitos Bar

Chilaquiles is one of those dishes that really deserves to be a bigger deal.  It’s such a simple dish: it’s just tortilla chips tossed in a zingy sauce.  At El Pocho Antojitos Bar, it’s also topped with crema (I think?  It’s been a while), cheese, and a fried egg.  The sauce thoroughly coats the chips, softening them a bit, though they do still retain a bit of their crunch.  It’s a thoroughly satisfying dish.

A Delicious Cold Cut Sandwich at Buon Giorno Caffe & Panini

Buon Giorno Café
Location
: 1134 The Queensway, Etobicoke
Website: https://www.buongiornocaffe.ca/

There’s something magical about a meaty Italian sandwich, despite its simplicity.  Just a whole bunch of cold cuts on bread?  Too simple, right?

Wrong.  Especially if it’s as good as it is here.

I was actually planning on ordering the hot veal sandwich, but when I went in, the guy behind the counter sold me on the cold cut sandwich on focaccia, which he said is a Thursday and Friday special. There was something about the way he described it, and his promise that I was “gonna love it!” had me convinced.

Buon Giorno Café

I think they describe it better on their website than I ever could:

This signature sandwich is only available on Fridays. That’s the day we take fresh Rosemary & Roasted Sweet Pepper Focaccia and stuff it with generous layers of Mortadella, Genoa Salami, Capocollo and Provolone and then smother it with hot Muffuletta just for fun. We’ll forgive you if you curse when you try this one. Our regulars have lovingly named this the “F@#*in Focaccia Sandwich”.

I know it seems like they’re overselling it, but you know what?  I don’t think they are.  The focaccia is perfectly soft and chewy, with some nice flavour from the rosemary and the peppers.   The fat stack of cold cuts are all super tasty and really well balanced, the cheese adds a bit of creaminess, and the muffuletta gives it a nice zingy pop that cuts through the richness.  It’s a top-notch sandwich.

Amazing Pastries at Cho-Kwok-Lat

Cho-Kwok-Lat
Location
: 31 Main Street North, Markham
Website: https://chokwoklat.com/

There are a whole bunch of really good bakeries doing fancy French desserts in the GTA, so if you want to stand out, you’d better be really good.

Cho-Kwok-Lat stands out.

Cho-Kwok-Lat

They have two display counters; one with tasty looking croissants, and the other with fancy cakes.  I wanted to eat everything in both displays immediately.  The woman behind the counter said that the chocolate rum almond croissant is their most popular, so I figured that was probably a good choice.

Cho-Kwok-Lat

It’s immediately clear why it’s so popular.  It’s basically like an almond croissant and a pain au chocolate had a baby, and it’s just the absolute best.  The combination of the tasty almond paste and the great quality chocolate is so good, and the croissant itself is buttery, flaky, and perfect.  I was worried that it might taste overly boozy, but if “rum” weren’t in its name, I don’t think I would have known it was there.

Cho-Kwok-Lat

The woman behind the counter heated it up for me, which I don’t think I’ve ever seen with a croissant like this before, but which is clearly the way to go.  The croissant was just barely warm, but it had been heated up enough to really emphasize the pasty’s exterior crisp-factor, and to make the chocolate nice and gooey.  Good stuff.