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Baked Goods

The Red Bench

Posted by Robyn Urback / Posted on January 22, 2013

red bench torontoThe Red Bench is a new Yonge and Wellesley hybrid operation. It's a self-serve frozen yogurt shop, a loose leaf tea cafe, but front and centre is The Red Bench's made-to-order cookie station.

the red bench torontoThe idea might solicit fond, mouth-watering memories of the now shuttered Designer Cookie, but the process here at The Red Bench seems a little more simple; it's more about offering hot, fresh cookies than an all-out DIY.

red bench torontoThe concept for the threefold shop was conceived by Elie Kirreh and his wife, Dena, who couldn't agree on the overall focus of their place — just that they wanted to start up a new shop. "She wanted to do cookies," says Elie as we chat during The Red Bench's opening week. "I wanted frozen yogurt, so we just thought, 'Let's do both.'"

Make that "all three" when you factor in the loose leaf teas. "We're big tea drinkers," says Elie, noting that the shop does not brew coffee. "So we wanted to incorporate that as well."

the red bench torontoThe Red Bench (which, yes, does have a bright red bench outside its front window) was founded on Dena's assortment of recipes for homemade cookies. Customers who opt to "create their own" (five small cookies for $2.75) start by selecting their choice of dough — either original, chocolate, oatmeal, peanut butter, or (coming soon) gluten-free.

the red bench torontoAfter picking the dough, customers then choose two of The Red Bench's collection of mix-ins, which include options such as raisins, walnuts, mini M&M's, vanilla chips, chocolate chips (three kinds) peanuts and sprinkles. Three minutes in the oven, another couple to cool, and you've got five hot, fresh Red Bench cookies.

red bench torontoGranted, the idea is not entirely novel, but it is a nice change from some of the more tired spots that seem to plague this stretch of Yonge. "We looked all over," says Elie as he mixes up my semi-sweet chocolate chip-plus-toffee-bits combination. "The charm of Yonge is disappearing — there are chains everywhere, and money stores — so we wanted to bring something fresh."

red bench torontoThis space, formerly occupied by one of the discount Katie clothing shops, has been entirely redone and now boasts reclaimed seating and bars, a wall made of old wooden pallets, and a chic new faux-tin ceiling. The red bench outside is a replica of a bench the couple found in Paris, on which Elie proposed to Dena a few years ago. Yes, much better than another Money Mart.

red bench torontoAlong with hot cookies, The Red Bench offers close to two dozen types of teas (sourced from Tealish), and six types of organic frozen yogurt from a larger roster of flavours that are all made in house. While I suspect The Red Bench might have a tough time competing with the wildly popular Yogurt Spoon down the street, the combination of cookies and frozen yogurt will surely motivate some to move a little further north.

red bench torontoSpeaking of, my cookies are handed over just at the right time — still hot, but not enough so to burn my tongue. They're crisp, a little chewy, and each about three bites, with the chocolate chips smooth and sweet, though the toffee is, unfortunately, undetectable. These cookies are clearly best enjoyed straight out of the oven, as I suspect the crispness would take over if left to cool.

the red bench torontoFor the complete nostalgia experience, The Red Bench offers a cookies and (organic) milk combo for $4.50, and free WiFi so you can download all of those classic Raffi tunes. Hours are currently 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily, and plenty of seating is available beyond the red bench.

the red bench torontoPhotos by Brian Chambers

Discussion

18 Comments

Devon / January 22, 2013 at 05:09 pm
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Looks like a lot of people are checking it out! Seems like there is always lots of people inside. I'll have to check it out on my walk to work tomorrow :)
Tyler / January 23, 2013 at 09:30 am
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I went here with my wife and son last weekend. Super tasty cookies and we had a great time watching the cookies being made. Yonge Street needs more businesses like this one.
GL / January 23, 2013 at 09:37 am
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You're missing an article in the first sentence
Skye / January 23, 2013 at 12:32 pm
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It is so nice to see a place with a unique personality and story. Not to mention attention to the little details. I'm looking forward to trying their frozen yogurt - a positive upgrade from the questionable (processed, artificial) ingredients at some of the other places.

I've been living at Yonge and Wellesley for close to ten years, and this is most certainly a refreshing and welcome addition to the neighbourhood.
BillyO / January 23, 2013 at 12:58 pm
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Good to see a shop like this open up on Yonge. As the owner said this stretch (Dundas-Charles) could use more unique retail beyond cash advance places and chains.

Definitely going to check this place out soon.
Ricky / January 23, 2013 at 02:03 pm
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I've never wanted a cookie without a cup of coffee. Not since I was 11, anyway.
Cyril Sneer / January 23, 2013 at 02:27 pm
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"The charm of Yonge is disappearing..."

Uhhhm, Yonge has looked like it does now for the better part of 30 years.
woooooo!! / January 23, 2013 at 09:42 pm
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so stoked on this!!!
sombrenoire / January 23, 2013 at 11:46 pm
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Might go tomorrow! Looks legit/delish!
Ina / January 27, 2013 at 09:15 am
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Thank you for this recommendation! My partner and I had a great time sampling and creating yesterday.
Lily / January 28, 2013 at 10:17 pm
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Excellent selection of teas, owner is extremely friendly, wifi is a bonus! Much needed addition to Yonge street!
C / February 4, 2013 at 02:59 pm
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just go. the cookies are so soft and gooey, and the batter is perfect. their hot chocolate was also delicious (i'm not much of a tea person) and the elie and dena are so, so nice. definitely going to be going back and i can't wait until it's warmer out to try the froyo!
cindy / February 22, 2013 at 03:17 pm
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This place looks sweet!

Its not in my neighbourhood but I am so going to swing by this place. Looks great!
hair salons / March 30, 2013 at 09:33 pm
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It's enormous that you are getting thoughts from this post as well as from our discussion made at this place.
Jesse / April 13, 2013 at 09:59 am
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The cookies, the staff, the decor: everything was wonderful.

Totally worthy of repeat visits. Perfect date spot.
Nate / July 12, 2013 at 02:00 pm
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Love this place (the peanut butter cookies are the best!) though the staff could use a little speeding up (they seem to get distracted by the process of making tea and cookies and I'm left standing there waiting for them to actually ring up the sale). But I was disappointed by the recent steep jump in price--from $2.75 to $3.99 for a batch of 5 cookies! ouch!
shand / July 24, 2013 at 02:44 pm
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I went there for the first time last night and I have to say, I was definitely impressed!! I had the gluten-free cookies and there were so yummy. I couldn't taste the difference. The taro frozen yogurt was also nice. Next time, I am going to try one of their teas :)
Farren / May 15, 2014 at 10:11 pm
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I went there this evening. The yogurt was disgusting and watery. I had to wait 10 minutes in their non-air conditioned shoppe to pay for my yogurt, while it melted before I could weigh it and pay. By the time the one person working there decided to let me pay, it was already yogurt soup. I complained to her and she still made me pay the 8 dollars for my yogurt. Pretty disgusting service if you ask me. She could have easily told me to grab a fresh one after making me wait till it melted.
Worst part is, the yogurt tasted bad anyways. All of the fruits looked wilted and mushy and weren't refrigerated properly. I wouldn't be surprised if I saw this place on the health code infractions in the near future.

The cookies were about average. They were definitely not disgusting like the froyo, but they were about on par with subway cookies. Take that for what its worth.

I threw out my 8 dollar ice cream. Wouldn't eat there again if you paid me. Bad call, BlogTO

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