Garni Bakery is a wholesale bakery that does a variety of impeccable French pastries like eclairs and rollets but they’re famous for their massive loaves of Barbari and sweet Gata bread.
Everything is made by hand here, the only machinery a giant mixer. The front area is plain enough, your typical bakery with shelves in the middle, a fridge in the corner and a pastry case displaying the prettiest creations.
Beyond that is the industrial kitchen with huge ovens and rows of long tables for creating breads and pastries.
I had mainly heard about this place’s Iranian Barbari bread, so I was stunned when owner Vahe Akopians placed a towering Napoleon in front of me. Flaky French pastry is layered with custard filling, and the result is a sugary sweet, dense and delicate cake that creates a gloppy mess in the best way possible.
They’re also famous for their eclairs, wondrous and airy combinations of pastry, custard, and ganache.
The rollet cakes are to die for, made in a classic French style and light enough to float away. They’re given a dusting of cocoa powder or ground pistachio and encircle a vanilla filling. Apparently Garni Bakery makes some with chocolate filling sometimes, too.
A non-baked but still interesting find are saffron sugar cubes ($3.25). Apparently Garni’s Persian customers like to put them in their tea, and they also come in flavours like cardamom and cinnamon.
The loaves of traditional Iranian Barbari bread are feet long, cut into pieces and stretched all by hand. A smattering of sesame seeds really imparts flavour to the bread, making it almost bagel-like but way less dense.
Akopians says it can be eaten pretty much any way: dipped, topped, toasted, or split it down the middle to make a sandwich.
Typical soft drinks fill the fridge but there’s also the yogurt soda more easterly cuisines are known for.
Also ubiquitous among suburban Toronto Middle Eastern restaurants are non-alcoholic malt beverages.
Garni bakery is located in a sort of strip mall with an often-full parking lot, but consider parking in the more desolate lot across the street. They have another more retail-based Richmond Hill location, but this one is where all the magic happens.