Absolute Bakery and Cafe has been a quiet Cabbagetown favourite for French and Sri Lankan baked good for years. The bakery is one of those modest mom and pop operations with minimal frills and dated-looking signage. Frankly, it's plain, but the sweet and savoury treats are not — at least by reputation.
Before I go on, I should say that I think I caught Absolute on an off day. It was my first visit to the bakery and cafe though it did not exactly impress, I do know that many Cabbagetown locals are fervently loyal to the unassuming bakery. Sometimes things jive, sometimes they don't, and unfortunately, my experience was in line with the latter.
Absolute starts its selling right from the front window. Where you might expect to find window seating or something of that nature, the bakery boasts its challahs, buns, and other breads to entice hungry passersby. The space is actually all grab-and-go (hence, no seating) with just a narrow aisle along which customers can assemble.
I stop by the shop on a rainy afternoon, hoping to be able to chat with the Rajendrans, Absolute's owners. The young girl at the counter escapes to the back and I see her convening with a man who I assume is Mr. Rajendran. He lingers, watching, while the girl informs me that the owner is busy and not available to talk. I'm not too put off, especially since I understand Mrs. Rajendran to be the more outgoing one of the pair, but the eyes on the back of my head don't exactly come off as friendly.
Since the girl, too, is reluctant to chat, I instead take in the spread, which includes everything from whole pies, croissants, and mousse cakes (on the French end), and Sri Lankan specialties such as fish buns and roti. I am able to glean that everything is made from scratch on site, using the couple's family recipes and general experience in the biz. I'm tempted to go for the roti, but craving something sweet (and watching a pan of immaculate meringue emerge from the kitchen) I opt for that instead.
The meringue is pretty huge for a cookie (bigger than my palm), which seems to justify the $2 price tag. The shell is crisp and glistening, but a bite reveals that the inside is still quite wet and soggy. To be fair, I know meringue can be quite finicky, especially in humid weather, but I was a little disappointed nonetheless. Absolute Bakery didn't impress my first time around, though if I take its Cabbagetown followers at their word, I'm inclined to give this bakery another shot.
Photos by Natta Summerky