*UPDATE 05/FEB/2014 – The restaurant has closed.*
Brunch is one of my favourite meals because the food is usually richer than traditional breakfast fare and the options are plentiful. This past Sunday I ventured out to Yonge and St. Clair to check out The Artisan Baker who has one of the best coffees I’ve had at a restaurant in a long time.
The large doors out front let in a lot of natural lighting which really brightens up the space. Padded velvet walls and chandeliers give the restaurant a classy chic feel with accent pieces such as a chalkboard, framed with aged wood and spoon coat hooks which evoke images of a Restoration Hardware. Towards the rear of the restaurant is the coffee and take-out counter with a wall of gourmet products for sale on the opposing wall
Co-owners Ronit Keith and Bruno Beaudoin (the chef, and native of Lyon) go to great lengths to source out their ingredients. Everything from the Quebec cheeses to the flour that’s used in their bread has been carefully handpicked by this dream team. Ronit’s years of experience in the hospitality industry coupled with Bruno’s passion for food are the formula to running a great restaurant. The level of care and service that I received while brunching rivals that of the city’s top dining establishments. This was best demonstrated when I made the request for a combination charcuterie/cheese board (as these are normally separate items on the menu), which we were granted with a smile. The service was efficient and friendly.
Shortly after sipping on our Italian Roast coffee, chef Beaudoin presents us with a bountiful platter of Quebec cheeses, prosciutto, saucissons and array of strawberries, dried cranberries, walnuts and thyme-infused honey. He tells us that the cheeses he uses are tempered as opposed to pasteurized, which means that the good bacterias/cultures are preserved in the tempering process. Pasteurization kills all the bacteria/cultures – good and/or bad. The platter was served with a selection of breads, all baked in-house. And if you like croissants, then make sure you order one because chef Beaudoin uses the full-fat (84%) butter which means a whole lotta flavour and perfectly flaky rolls. And since he uses less (it is more concentrated) don’t sweat the calories!
We also indulged in a Quiche Lorraine and Tartine (open-faced sandwich) of wild mushrooms, bacon, shallots and melted brie. Both come with a side of either soup or salad. The quiche was my personal favourite with a perfectly flaky puff pastry shell and an eggy, rich filling. Of course, bacon also makes everything better! The crusty bread of the tartine was bang on and held up to the bold flavours of the bacon and cheese.
I should mention that the portion sizes are quite generous at the Artisan Baker, so do leave some room for dessert! You can choose from a variety of pastries, tarts, and classic French desserts such as crème brûlée and Millefeuille which is what we opted for. Gone are the days of thick caramelized sugar that takes a miner’s shovel to dig into. Chef Beaudoin does a stellar job with a “softer” custard that is creamy and smooth.
Dinner service is currently in the works pending liquor license approval but stay tuned.
*Thank you to Vicky Weiss (@momwhoruns) for the introduction and the Artisan Baker for having me as your guest. As always, opinions and views are my own*