Naturalis is a little café and bakery in the heart of The Beaches that's packing lots of pastries and treats, and most notably, Montreal-style bagels. Previously on Roncesvalles, Naturalis moved to Queen Street just east of Balsam Ave. about a year and a half ago because, as co-owner Simone tells me, "There is a lot more space here."
If there's a lot more space at this location, it's more of a reflection that the previous space was so small. "That one was mostly just for take-out," Simone says. We really wanted to find a place where people could come in for a coffee or bagel or something and just relax."
Lining the west wall of Naturalis are four bistro tables with two chairs each. And that's about it for seating. But it's the food, and not really the ambiance, that keeps people coming back. Naturalis gets its bagels from St. Urbain on Eglinton Ave. West, known for its fresh Montreal-style bagels.
The breakfast bagel at Naturalis, made with egg, cheese, bacon ($3.90), is a huge hit among commuters on the way to work. For lunch, regulars often opt for the sandwich combo, which includes any sandwich (varieties such as smoked turkey, smoked salmon, or egg salad, all offered on a bagel) coffee, and any pastry in the bakery for $7.99.
Simone, who is originally from Brazil, is trained as a pastry chef. She makes all the baked goodies at Naturalis with all-natural ingredients and no preservatives, hence the name. There is always an assortment of muffins ($1.70), brownies ($2.25), and danishes ($2.25) baked fresh daily, but it was her cupcakes that caught my eye. I tried a chocolate cupcake with some of the most delicious vanilla buttercream icing I had ever tasted. It was light and sweet--but not too sweet. A perfect compliment to the fluffy cake. Naturalis is currently running a Valentine's Day special of six cupcakes for $9, or one for $2.
Simone's partner, Robert, is the coffee mind behind the café. He often travels to discover new blends, bringing the best back to the shop. Check out their coffee menu for their latest Indonesian Sumatra, Kenyan, or other exotic blends.
Photos by Dennis Marciniak