Le Matin Bakery
Le Matin Bakery is the newest venture by French chef Jean-Pierre Challet. Those in the foodie scene know Jean-Pierre (or J.P.) as the culinary master behind Ici Bistro, though he's previously worked at the Windsor Arms, Rosewood Grill, Bouchon, and other venerable spots that have allowed him to show off his kitchen talents.
At Le Matin though, his new bakery on Coady Ave. just north of Queen in Leslieville, J.P. has returned to the basics with classic French breads and pastries. The baked goods enticed the community during the Leslieville Farmers Market this past summer, so much so that people began asking where they could get them throughout the year. "At one point," says Lili Presti, whose husband, Arnaud, has partnered with J.P. to open Le Matin, "there was a line about 30-people long. We couldn't believe it."
Though many of the pastries have been made available at coffee shops throughout the city, Lili says it made sense to open one central location. "We really like this spot," she tells me, "because there's such a sense of community. And beyond that, people are very food conscious; they know good, quality products and aren't afraid to ask about ingredients."
Needless to say, everything at Le Matin is prepared the traditional French way with real butter, eggs, and other quality ingredients. The offerings include classic croissants ($2.00), brioches ($2.00), and pain au chocolat ($2.50), sourdough boule ($5.00), quiches big and small, clatouti ($5.00), and baguettes, obviously (regular $2.75, multigrain $3.00).
There are lots of fruit-based options as well, including a lemon tart that Lili has cut up into sample sizes and invited me to try. I oblige, of course, and take a piece of the tender, crumbly crust (you do good work, butter) and tangy filling that's both tart and sweet. Still, I know I have to try the croissants, having once been told that the mark of a good French baker begins and ends with his croissants.
The croissants at Le Matin are piled neatly behind glass, each baked to a perfect golden brown. Lili retrieves one off the top for me to take home, but the ride, alas, is just too long. I start pulling it apart, devouring it piece by piece, and the croissant proves the perfect combination of flakey, chewy, and buttery. While Ici Bistro might be J.P's answer to classic lobster bisque and duck magret, Le Matin is certainly it for the exceptional French croissant.
Photos by Morris Lum