Delicious Pastries at Choux Lab

Choux Lab
Location
: 386 Royal York Road, Toronto
Website: None

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

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.

Choux Lab

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

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.

Delicious Pastries at Cannoli Crunch

Cannoli Crunch
Location
: I was at the Taste of Little Italy festival, but their permanent location is at 850 King Street West, Toronto
Website: https://www.cannolicrunch.ca/

There was a whole bunch of interesting food at the recent Taste of Little Italy street festival, though Cannoli Crunch — who make various flavours of cannoli and then fill them fresh to order — was one that I couldn’t resist.

(Also: after a couple of years of their absence thanks to you-know-what, it was quite delightful to be back at a street festival.)

Cannoli Crunch

Though some of the other flavours sounded interesting, I went with the classic ricotta-filled cannoli dipped in pistachio.  Hey, it’s a classic for a reason.

It was so good.  It was filled to order, so the shell remained abundantly crispy, as it should.  And the filling was actually quite unique; cannoli filling generally has that slightly grainy texture that you get from ricotta, but the version here was smooth like custard while still retaining its delightful ricotta flavour.

The contrast between the crispy shell and the ultra-creamy filling was really nice, and the whole thing had a perfect level of sweetness — sweet, but not in-your-face sweet.  It was a great dessert.

Sticky Bun Perfection at Sticky Bakery

Sticky Bakery
Location
: 621 Saint Clair Avenue West, Toronto
Website: https://stickybuns.ca/

I was thinking recently about how much I miss the Prairie Girl Bakery, which served the best cupcakes in town for years, and then became a tragic victim of the pandemic.  A quick googling revealed that the owner has subsequently opened a new place which, as you might surmise from its name, specializes in sticky buns.

Sticky Bakery

I’m not sure why it’s not getting more hype, because it’s seriously, seriously good.

They serve a stellar sticky bun.  It’s sweet, saucy, and perfectly moist.  The pastry itself is ultra-fluffy and delightful, and the cinnamon/caramel flavour is right where you want it to be.

Sticky Bakery

I just checked their website and apparently the default version has pecans, which I either didn’t see or they didn’t have when I visited.  Clearly, I’m going to have to go back, because it seems pretty clear that pecans would enhance this thing.

Sticky Bakery

I also tried the version topped with cream cheese frosting, which was very good, though I have to admit that I preferred the plain.  The frosting was tasty, but the sticky bun was already so incredibly delicious on its own that the cream cheese kind of just got in the way.

Seriously though, pecans??  I need to go back ASAP.

A Pleasant Cheesy Scone from Prairie Boy Bread

Prairie Boy Bread
Location
: 201 Geary Avenue, Toronto
Website: https://www.instagram.com/prairieboybread/

I mainly came to Prairie Boy to try the double-fermented multigrain sourdough, which Toronto Life recently called one of the best loaves of bread in the city.  And yeah, that’s a serious loaf of bread; it’s dense, hearty, and has a delightfully aggressive sourdough flavour, with a sour tang that’s almost too intense (tang for days!).   It’s very good.

Prairie Boy Bread

(Alas, I completely forgot to take a photo, so you’ll have to use your imagination; it’s round, rustic, and seriously seedy.)

I figured I’d try one of their pastries while I was there, so I went with the cheesy scone.  I wish they had heated this up, or served it fresher, because it was a bit clammy.  But aside from that it was quite tasty, with a nice buttery flavour and a good amount of cheese.

Prairie Boy Bread

Also, I don’t think this bakery has any affiliation with the sadly departed Prairie Girl Bakery, but man, remember that place??  Because I do.  RIP.

Quick Bites: Churnt Up, Nord Lyon, Canada’s Wonderland

Churnt Up
Cinnamon Toast Crunch ice cream at Churnt Up

I decided recently that if I eat something I don’t particularly enjoy, I’m not going to write all that much about it — I think there’s enough negativity in the world, and I’d rather spend my energy focusing on stuff I like rather than stuff I don’t.  That being said, I’ll say that Cinnamon Toast Crunch is a great flavour for ice cream, and I’ll leave it at that.

Nord Lyon
Strawberry croissant at Nord Lyon

The strawberry croissant at Nord Lyon is named after the bakery; it’s always a safe bet to order a restaurant’s namesake dish, and in this case, the croissant has a nice buttery flavour and a healthy amount of sweet strawberry jam.  It was pretty stale when I tried it, but maybe you’ll have better luck?

Funnel cake at Canada's Wonderland
Funnel cake at Canada’s Wonderland

It turns out that Canada’s Wonderland is actually pretty boring for food — at least half of the eateries are locations of Pizza Pizza or Subway, and the rest all serve stuff like burgers and chicken strips, with almost none of the over-the-top carnival-style fun you might expect.  But!  They still serve funnel cakes — topped with soft serve and a chunky strawberry sauce — and they’re just as good as you remember.  No… better.  If there’s a better combo than fresh fried dough, creamy ice cream, and sweet strawberry sauce, I’d like to hear about it.