Through Being Cool Vegan Baking Co.
Through Being Cool Vegan Baking Co.'s whole name is essentially a big lie. They're not through being cool, at all. The new bake shop opened at Bloor and Lansdowne on Sunday, with people lined up through the huge space and out the door.
Owner Amanda Somerville says she wasn't prepared to face such a crazy situation on day one. Up well before any male chicken would ever dream of, at 3 a.m., she was sleepy on opening day, but in a contented sort of way.
Though Through Being Cool has just come into existence as a full-fledged storefront (Somerville has been in business for a couple of years, supplying treats to the likes of Sadie's Diner and Hot Beans. As far as her new venture goes, though, there are some clear favourites already. She kept making batches of vegan pizza buns, only to watch them just as quickly march out the door. Homer Simpson-worthy doughnuts were a hit as well. I took the liberty of trying one as an undeserved Sunday afternoon treat to attempt to cure my hangover, and it almost worked. The thing was near-miraculous. Perfectly drizzly icing sugar, rainbow sprinkles, pinkish tint, doughy as fuck and fried to perfection.
"I want to bring a new understanding [to vegan food] and show other people it's not just rabbit food," says Somerville, resplendent in a floral apron.
Aside from the doughnuts, treats on offer span the spectrum to include just about anything a person with a sweet tooth could desire. Scones, whoopie pies, and cookies, all made lovingly by Somerville from her own recipes, beckon from behind the glass display case. She does preserves, too, and on her shelves you'll find everything from tangy homemade barbeque sauce to spicy catsup and an assortment of pickles.
There are even a few gluten-free options on the menu, such as vegan mac n'cheese and cabbage rolls, if that's more your bag. TBC also carries gourmet dog treats (!) from The Brothers Boston, and tea from Herbal Infusions.
And though the focus is on the goods, and not the coffee, TBC does offer up a good brew if you want it. They pull a very autumnal Americano for me, made with beans from Anchored Coffee, which Somerville brings in from Dartmouth, NS. It claims to taste like graham cracker, milk chocolate and concord grape. I taste everything but the grape. The Americano is near-perfect, but I have to say a coffee isn't the same for me without dairy milk—almond doesn't quite cut it.
But Somerville does make her own syrups in flavours like pumpkin spice and vanilla bean, and she'll have cold brew available next summer.
Somerville's creations are undeniably great, and the atmosphere is soothing. The space used to be home toToronto Free Gallery, so there's a ton of natural light and crisp white walls, perfect for displaying vintage photos and knickknacks decorating the space.
Because the space is so lovely, I wish it had seating of some kind. Somerville tells me she's not zoned for that, but says she'll likely look into it in the future.
For now, she's just enjoying where she is. It took all summer to transform the space from a barren gallery to a fully-functioning bakery, and Somerville worked hard, installing floors and tiles in her kitchen herself. With the help of some friends and designer Dana Seguin, that is. She caught Bloor and Lansdowne in the prime of the gentrification process (read: before it's fully underway), and she says it's exactly where she wants to be.
"I feel pretty honoured to be part of the change."
And make sure to bring your change—TBC is cash only.
Photos by Jesse Milns