Simultaneous Love and Hate at Blackbird Baking Co.

Blackbird Baking Co.Location: 172 Baldwin Street, Toronto
Website: https://blackbirdbakingco.com/

You win some and you lose some.

I just tried the almond croissant from Blackbird Baking Co.  On one hand, the croissant itself is fantastic; it’s lightly crispy on the outside, satisfyingly buttery, and has an absolutely perfect texture.  The exterior crispiness is maybe a bit too subtle, but for the most part it’s one of the better croissants I’ve had in the city.

Blackbird Baking Co.

But the almond part of this almond croissant is disappointingly anemic.  Almond croissants are traditionally stuffed and topped with almond paste; the paste on top gets crispy and caramelized, and the paste inside is gooey and sweet.

That’s how it’s supposed to be, at least.  Here, on the other hand, the layer on top was so thin that it may as well not have even been there, and it was filled with a crumbly, dry almond mixture that had almost no sweetness.  It’s not at all what it’s supposed to be.

Blackbird Baking Co.

I get wanting to put your own spin on a classic, but if you’re going to do that, maybe make sure that your new creation actually tastes good?

Still, the croissant itself is so amazing that it basically doesn’t matter.  Just don’t expect anything particularly sweet or almondy.

Danish Cinnamon Rolls at Brod

BrodLocation: 100 City Centre Drive, Mississauga (inside Square One)
Website: https://shopsquareone.com/brod

If the only cinnamon rolls you’re familiar with are the doughy and diabetes-inducing ones they serve at Cinnabon, Danish-style cinnamon rolls (a.k.a. kanelsnegl) are going to come as something of a shock.  It’s like comparing “Macho Man” Randy Savage to Daniel Day Lewis.  They’re both entertainers, but that’s about where the similarities end.

Brod

The kanelsnegl at Brod is solid.  The pastry is quite nice — it’s flaky and a bit buttery, with crispy outer ring that eventually gives way to a softer, sweeter interior.

It’s a little bit bland, however; the pastry itself doesn’t have a ton of flavour, and the cinnamon/sugar level is probably a notch or two more restrained than it needs to be.

Brod

I know it’s not fair, but I couldn’t help but compare it to the kanelsnegls I had on a recent trip to Copenhagen, and there’s no contest.  Those ones featured a much better balance of sweetness, with the pastry itself being downright magical.

Still, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with what they’re serving at Brod.  It’s not amazing, but it’s very good.

Tasty Cheese Tarts at Pablo

PabloLocation: 1800 Sheppard Avenue East, North York (inside Fairview Mall)
Website: https://pablocanada.com/

It’s hard to go wrong with a Japanese cheese tart.  It’s basically just a little cheesecake, and it’s delicious.  If you’re a cheesecake fan, there’s absolutely no reason cheese tarts shouldn’t be in your life.

Pablo

The version they sell at Pablo might not be the best one I’ve ever had, but it’s pretty darn tasty.

The filling is sweet but not too sweet, with a rich cheesecake flavour.  I wish it had been a bit creamier, but it’s quite good.

Pablo

The crust could have been a bit more crisp, but again, it’s very good: it’s nice and buttery, with an almost shortbread-like flavour.  The crispy crust and the creamy cheesecake is a fairly irresistible combo.

A Delicious Veggie Sandwich at Forno Cultura

Forno CulturaLocation: 609 King Street West, Toronto
Website: https://fornocultura.com/

I recently had a seriously tasty meal thanks to Toronto Life’s list of the 25 best sandwiches in the city.  So it seemed like a safe enough bet to try another entry from that list: the melanzana from Forno Cultura, a great Italian bakery on King Street West.

It’s a roasted eggplant and zucchini sandwich with fior di latte (AKA mozzarella), Emmental cheese, and arugula.

Forno Cultura

I was tempted by the very tasty looking meatball sandwich, but I stuck with the list, and I’m very glad that I did.  The list is on a roll.  It’s an amazing sandwich.

Forno Cultura

The eggplant and the zucchini are both super tasty — they’re meaty and tender, with a very herby, garlicky flavour.  The two cheeses balance quite well, with a nice soft creaminess from the fresh mozzarella, and a sharper cheesy flavour from the Emmental.  Add in the peppery bite from the arugula, and you’ve got a tasty sandwich.

Though as good as the various fillings are, it’s the sesame-studded focaccia that’s the real star of the show.  It’s crispy, fluffy, and amazing.

Forno Cultura

The sandwich is also exceptionally oily — basically as soon as you pick it up, your hands become slick with grease.  Normally this might be a bit much, but I think that oil was also a vehicle for the aforementioned herby, garlicky flavour, because the whole sandwich was tasty and amazing.  It never feels overly oily.

I should have left it at that, but I made the mistake of getting the cornetto cioccolato for dessert.  It looked so good!

Forno Cultura

It tastes absolutely nothing like it looks.  It was barely sweet at all, and the texture was oddly crunchy and dry.  It was, weirdly enough, very similar to a pretzel.  Not a warm, fresh pretzel; the dry kind from a bag.  I don’t know if that was intentional, but I’m guessing it wasn’t because it was blatantly unappealing.  It was quite saltine-esque.

Still; it’s hard to stay mad a place that serves a sandwich that delicious.

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.