Hot Oven Bakery (The Kingsway)
Hot Oven Bakery opened its third location in at Bloor Street West and Royal York Road about a year and a half ago, and business is already booming. So much so, that you have to take a number when you walk in.
I had almost forgotten what those old, red ticket dispensers looked like until a woman swooped around me to pull a paper slip out of the end. But those are the things you need to do if you want to snag a prized loaf from Hot Oven's wall of breads. By 2 p.m. it seems its already half empty, with a few stray cracked pepper breads and challah loafs sitting lonely on the shelf. The ones that will make it past 6 p.m. will be sold for $2 each, so that's something to look forward to.
In the meantime, I seem to be awkwardly holding up the rush as I scan Hot Oven's endless chalkboards of hot drinks, lunch food and bakery treats. From the entrance towards the back, the shop seems to evolve from cakes and pastries, to breads and loafs, to meal options and take-home dinners. It's a lot of food for what seems like a small space, but then again, the door never seems to stay closed.
"There's tons of variety," a regular tells me. "I work in the area and I always stop by for something, and still, I don't think I've tried everything." All of Hot Oven's products are either made onsite or at one of the other locations in Toronto. Its cookies, especially its chocolate chip, oatmeal shortbread, and peanut butter and jam cookies ($0.50 each), seem to fly off the shelves, as well as its cinnamon split buns ($1.25), which I found had that authentic, homemade taste--sweet and fresh, with just the right amount of cinnamon.
Other big hits at the bakery are the cakes, notably the orange chiffon cake ($10), which are intricately decorated with professional-looking designs. And for lunch, there's an assortment of pot pies (beef $3.25) quiches (broccoli and cheese $3.25) and items that can be ordered of the menu, including meatball subs made with Hot Oven's fresh bread ($4.99) or a bowl of chili ($4.99). Finally, if you don't feel like making dinner, you can pick up a whole lasagna (12.95) or homemade perogies stored in Ziploc bags ($6.50/dozen). Just remember to take a number.
Photos by Dennis Marciniak