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Cafes

Balluchon Raymond Inc.

Posted by Robyn Urback / Posted on July 14, 2011

Balluchon TorontoBalluchon Raymond Inc. is back. Albeit, with a slightly longer name. But after about a six-month hiatus for owner Raymond Emes as he closed shop to tackle some personal issues, the popular cafe on Sorauren Avenue at Wright is now up and running.

"The outpouring of support was really incredible," Raymond says when I meet him outside his recently renovated shop. "The emails just kept coming in. People wanted to see this place come back to life."

Balluchon TorontoAnd it has. But with new floors, exposed brick walls, and ambitious plans for the menu. "The plan is food from Grey and Bruce County," Raymond, who spent time in both those regions during Balluchon's closure, says. After meeting some young, enthusiastic agricultural producers, Raymond has decided to incorporate items like grass-fed oxtail and Georgian Bay Whitefish caviar to the existing offerings of kartoffelpuffer (German potato pancake), eggs, ethically sourced coffee and more.

Balluchon TorontoAnd there are still some additional changes. Coffee will no longer be roasted onsite, but still offered at 6:35 a.m. sharp every day in the form of Americanos ($2.25), iced lattes ($4.99) and more, along with fresh croissants ($2.49) and other baked goods.

Balluchon TorontoBut it seems Raymond is more about the teas nowadays anyway. "That cup is really impacting the environment," Raymond says of the coffee that requires enormous human and natural energy to produce. "We should be switching to teas." (Of course, we're both sipping on cold steeped Kenyan iced teas ($3.49).)

Balluchon TorontoRaymond also hopes to offer fountain drinks made with Grey and Bruce County berries and other fruits and a few new Balluchon staples. But right now, he's just working on finding a way to handle the crowds showing up for Balluchon's famous weekend brunch. And so, it seems word has gotten out about Balluchon's revival.

Balluchon Toronto"Sorauren is everything a small town should be," Raymond says, reflecting fondly on his experiences now and before he first closed. "People know each other. They say hi to each other. Kids come here and can get things on their mother's tab. You know what, I'm going to die on this street."

I suppose that means Balluchon isn't going anywhere.

Balluchon TorontoBalluchon TorontoPhotos by Jesse Milns.

Discussion

20 Comments

Arby / March 22, 2010 at 01:33 am
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I was sitting in Savoury Grounds, across the street from where I work on Queen St E, chatting with the barista about coffee and coffee shops in the city. A friendly young man (everyone's young now that I'm an old fart) jumped in and suggested Balluchon over in the west end. There are a few shops I hadn't yet checked out and that was one. It was a good suggestion for the weekend.

I made my over to Balluchon sort of late Saturday afternoon. Although the shop was closing up, the friendly owner, Raymond, insisted I hang out for a spell, along with another customer, a regular who joined us in conversation, and so I did. (Raymond gets what a coffee shop should be about.) He pulled me a shot (into a funky steel espresso cup) that I just will not judge him on. Actually, It wasn't bad. But my friend was frazzled from dealing with a crazy busy day and a missing helper and he wasn't even sure, initially, about what he gave me. Although being fair trade and organic is a big plus for me.

He then figured it out and laid it on me. I appreciated his effort to enlighten me about what was in my cup. And other aspects of his business. For coffee geeks, or whatever you want to call us, that's what we look for in a coffee shop as much as anything. Just what do I retain? That's another question. But that's just me and my failing memory.

Balluchon is not on Roncevalles, but is a couple of long blocks east of it, on Wright. You don't usually get a shop like that in the interior of a nabe, even though we've all seen pleasant nabes and cool houses in their interiors that just look like they should be coffee shops. The lucky residents around Sorauren and Wright just happened to get what some of us (and probably some of them) wish for.

Check out Balluchon.
Kate / April 9, 2010 at 02:49 pm
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I've been to Balluchon quite a few times when I'm around the hood, I have to say they have the meanest americanos and their pastries are to DIE for....mmmm i still dream of that heavy dark lusiously chcolate laden flourless brownie i had there months ago! I have to go back. Immediatly

....the owner and lovely barrista of this spot make it all the nicer....5 stars for sure!

Mmmmmmmmmlattttttteeeeeeeeeh! Also their croissants are yum, a prefect spot for mum and dads and grandpas and grandmas visiting the Sauroren park with their wee uns and desperatly need a coffee to keep up with the madness....
Tristan / December 11, 2010 at 09:40 am
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I wonder i I might have been the young man who mentioned balluchon to the gentleman at savoury grounds, it rings a vague bell. I tell people about it whenever I talk about cafes and where to get a good coffee in this city.

I love this place, I used to work for Raymonds partner Chef Jean Pierre Centeno, a classic french chef, who is the brains behind all the amazing foods on offer.
The Shakes / July 14, 2011 at 09:39 am
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Glad Balluchon is open again, and with way more seating. Also glad they kept the big woodern fridge intact. That thing is a piece of art. I'll be stopping by frequently for their great coffee, great croissants and great neighbourhood vibe. Best of luck with the new menu and seating.
the lemur / July 14, 2011 at 10:23 am
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What does 'Grey and Bruce County terrior' mean? I know where those places are, but ... terrier? terroir?
Parker replying to a comment from the lemur / July 14, 2011 at 10:36 am
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I wondered about that too. I think the writer means "terroir", but that's rather a grand term to use to describe produce and fish from Grey and Bruce counties.

Also, just to be clear, these are two **separate** jursidictions: Grey County and Bruce County. The way the writer's phrased them, it almost sounds as if they're one unit.
Macdonell / July 14, 2011 at 12:06 pm
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Wow, apparently the reviewer and commenters don't live in the neighborhood. I've lived around the corner from this place for several years. It seems like a great little spot right? Cute? Appealing? WRONG. When Raymond says he'll die there, it's a bit ironic, since Balluchon already died once. And it died because Raymond is kind of a wierd guy, bordering on obnoxious. I find him to be really grating, and it just irritates me. I'm so sorry, but dude, if you want your biz to succeed, just hire some nice normal people, and stay away from the shop. Friends in the hood have discussed over dinner how this place was on the way out as none of us could stand to go there. When you just want a cup of coffee, you don't always need the song and dance routine. This place should be a cornerstone of the hood, but it's just unpleasant.
JM / July 14, 2011 at 12:23 pm
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.....how is that cup of tea grown in Kenya any more sustainable than a cup of coffee?
The Shakes replying to a comment from Macdonell / July 14, 2011 at 01:23 pm
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I actually do live around the corner, so i kind of get what you're saying. I too enjoy fast, efficient inpersonal service as much as anyone, but i will share a little story.

I remember while touring wineries in Prince Edward County, seeing a worker at Norman Hardie Winery cleaning buckets, that looked exactly like Ray. I said to my wife, " Hey, i think that's the Balluchon guy". She agreed it looked like him, but what the hell would he be doing 3 hours away from TO, cleaning buckets. So we figured it was just mistaken identity..Until we also recognized his dog. So rightly or wrongly, we came to the conclusion that he's just a guy who's really passionate and hands on about learning everything he can about producing good food and drink...Business and efficient service maybe not so much.

I suppose some people like to banter with the shop-keepers, others (myself included) just want to be served. In any event, i do hope he does well, because i think having a cafe in that location is awesome for the hood, especially when it's too cold to walk to Roncy.
Macdonell replying to a comment from The Shakes / July 14, 2011 at 02:57 pm
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Whoa there! Out of context. Didn't say anything about "efficient" or "impersonal". Would just prefer NOT CRAZY. I am always up for a good banter, but being addressed as "GOOOOOOODDD MOOOOORRRNNNIINNGGG BOMMMMMBBBBSHEELLLL!!!!" at 7am crosses the line for me, particularly when it's followed by off key showtunes and soft shoe. All this and a "quick" coffee takes 15 minutes, and somehow whenever I want a pastry he doesn't have one. You know, because he doesn't have enough business to make pastries everyday. Circular logic, anyone? If there is a customer base for this type of behavior, fine - enjoy! But I think there's a reason Balluchon already failed once. Take it as constructive criticism.
Sandman replying to a comment from Macdonell / July 15, 2011 at 10:26 pm
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I can't see how Balluchon can be a failure, when it's reopening?
Not just reopening, but looks like it's expanded too?

It's unheard of for small business, really, when you think about it.
Sorauren replying to a comment from Macdonell / July 16, 2011 at 08:51 am
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Hey, what's with the personal attacks? Ray might be a chipper guy, but he's definitely not weird. It's called "character.". I am not even one for banter, especially at 7am, but I don't hold that against him. It's all in good spirit.

I like the new space, and look forward to trying out the brunches. Still has the best coffee in the city, and you can't beat the location, if you live in the hood. Excellent bagels and croissants, too.
afspam / July 16, 2011 at 03:35 pm
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Well, since Raymond is the reason I don't like going there, it has to be said. Arrogant would be the word I'd use. Especially when I first met him. He hadn't even been open a week (the first time around) and all he could do was bad mouth the other local restaurants. I am usually impressed with how the local businesses tend to support each other, but apparently he's not into that.

I find it curious that he did all of that work at the restaurant without any building permits. He also hasn't been inspected lately, no sign posted by public health, which is a requirement as far as I know!

Don't know anything about this chef referred to in a previous post, it seems he doesn't actually work at the restaurant. I've overheard Raymond talking to his cook and they were the ones making up the menu.

I have never had a problem with his staff, they're lovely, but I rarely go in if he's there.
Melissa / July 17, 2011 at 01:44 am
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Went to Balluchon Raymond today with a few friends for a leisurely coffee and brunch. This was followed by an iced coffee and a muffin after several of hours of impromptu interesting conversations with various people who were also hanging out on the patio.

Can't comment on rush-hour early morning service obviously, but my experience was excellent, and I will definitely be going back regularly.

Coffee:
1. A most excellent latte, on par with Jet Fuel as far as taste goes, but with the bonus of fair trade coffee, Harmony Organic milk, and (I think) fair trade sugar. Compostable cups were available for take out, but I was eating in. Possibly my favourite coffee in the west-end...

2. Excellent iced latte: made with coffee ice cubes so that my coffee was never diluted and I still had something tasty and cold to drink as the last of the ice melted.

Food:
Had the English-y named brunch item: Two poached eggs on homemade crumpets with cheddar cheese, salad (baby spinach, apple, walnuts +), and northern beans. The crumpet/egg/cheese combo was divine and a nice alternative to a Benny. Salad was tasty and fresh. Baked beans were homemade and tasty, although I would've preferred a bit of maple syrup or a bit of spice for an added kick. Muffin: flavourful, dense, could've been a bit sweeter.

Service & Atmosphere:
Unpretentious, friendly, conscientious, neighbourhoody, comfortable. Staff & Raymond were friendly and neighbourly and service was attentive. The patio on a residential street and the friendly fellow patio patrons also added to the neighbourhoody vibe. A particularly great place to be if you like talking to strangers, and it was such a nice spot to be on a Saturday afternoon that I wound up hanging out there until they closed!
luckybaker / October 19, 2011 at 03:53 pm
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If you don't like being sociable, if you don't want a little personality in your cafe, if you're looking for something with a colder more corporate vibe, stick with The Second Cup. Oh wait — there was one on Roncesvalles, but it closed.

I congratulate Raymond and Le Balluchon on the re-opening; my experience there has been pleasant, personal, and tasty, just the way I like it. It's a unique spot that contributes richly to the fabric of the neighbourhood as a meeting place, eating place, and peaceful space.

It's unfortunate to witness these despicable attacks on someone's character. To all of you who criticize Raymond for his strong personality, I bet you're an absolute bore to be around; I'd rather chat with Raymond any day.
Eric S. Smith / January 12, 2012 at 11:29 am
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For what it’s worth, an addendum to afspam’s report of a missing inspection sign: according to the Dinesafe site, Balluchon passed an inspection on July 28, just after afspam’s comment was posted.
brucey / May 6, 2012 at 07:34 am
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Hiya mate it's been a along time It's nice to see ur business is doing we'll ,when r u coming to lovely BRIGHTON,UK give me tingle brucey Ph 07411450763 give a ring :-)
The Best / August 3, 2012 at 02:26 am
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Best espresso and coffee in the west end, hands down. Raymond is the best. Contrary to some weird comments on this site, people actually go there just to see him. His staff are wonderful too. Great quiet location, while being in the middle of the city.
Craig Maniscalco / December 13, 2012 at 10:49 am
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Today at Balluchon Coffee, I walked in (freezing) with my Indie Coffee Passport, looking for something to sit and drink while I wrote, this among other things. The barista was awesome! While fiddling with the music, radio, seemingly personally affronted by the stations with music she didn’t feel like listening to, she asked me how I was, and invited me to warm up while deciding. When she stood up and asked, “What would you like?” I asked, “What’s good? I’m here on the passport.” When I glanced at the standard list of five items offered on the passport she reached up, flipped it around, and said, “I’ll make anything on the menu.” We chatted for a minute, I mentioned that I liked sweeter drinks, she got excited and said, “I make an insane Mocha!”
As I said, “Go to work.” Another guy, a cool looking hipster in flannel and a knit cap, walked in. The Barista said, “Are you going to be hanging out here for a while, because I make the mocha in stages, and this guy just wants a latte…” The guy said that he actually wanted 4 drinks, so she should go ahead with mine. And she did.
I sat down, grabbing the most beautiful fresh looking Banana-Nut-and possibly Carrot muffin I think I’ve ever seen. So, my mocha is underway. I can tell because she is singing…well, what’s it called when people make up non-words to fill songs? “Bathca-babba-bam-matcha-wookie-wookie-wam.” This goes on for several minutes while she dances, and punctuates everything with very precise key moments on the path of the mocha. You can tell it’s serious because she stops dancing and makes a guttural noise of accomplishment a bit like a slow evil laugh when it goes the way she expects it to.
I’ve skipped an event that speaks to the regular clientele and the neighborhood. While making my mocha, an elderly man walked in and came to the counter. She warned him, “There are 4 drinks ahead of your already, so it will be a second.” The man smiled and said “no problem, I’m going to take a walk through the park. I’ll be back in a few minutes.”
While writing this, I’m recalling the events of only a few minutes ago, she is still singing. A few songs with actual words. I think she belongs in the Blues.
Anyways, my mocha. It comes out in my 16oz mug filled to the brim. There is about 1cm of foam freckled with dark chocolate powder, and it smells gorgeous. I expect a bit of spice based on the smell, like a spicy hot chocolate, but I now believe that that smell comes from a more complex set of ingredients that might include allspice or cinnamon. (She’d singing Sinatra now) The mocha is very deep and rich, like a dark chocolate. I wish I knew more about chocolates to do it justice, but its good. And smooth. A milk chocolate fan would do just fine. Come to think of it, this would be a great way to caffeinate your friends’ children unawares.
The next few hours will likely be filled with occasional mochas, and fun clients. I’ve already talked with one older gentlemen who was surprised to find out from the barista that Ravi Shankar is Norah Jones’ father! He asked me if I knew that, and I replied with confidence, “No. I had no idea.” I had to look up Ravi Shankar to write it here. Apparantly a famous sitar player.
The point. Balluchon, the coffee shop on Sorauren is a great place to sit and hang out. The atmosphere is warm and friendly, and they make an insanely good mocha. If you ever want to go, drop me a line and I’ll join you.
Diana / January 16, 2013 at 10:04 am
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Does this place have wifi?

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