Clafouti, a French bakery on Queen St. West, is the perfect way to kickstart a day off. It's a madhouse on the weekend, jammed with ravenous hordes salivating over perfect, buttery croissants and pains au chocolat. On a weekday, however, the pace is serene. The pleasant shop contains just a few people absently munching the extravagantly good tarts and reading highbrow periodicals.
It's mid-afternoon and they're sold out of my usual favourite (a roast chicken sandwich with bib lettuce and fresh raspberries nestled into a croissant, oh MAN), so instead I opt for my first ever Croque-Monsieur, or "Mister Crispy", essentially a pimped-out ham & grilled cheese sandwich. A cup of strong, dark Balzac's coffee brings my lunch to a comfortable $6.90, and I head out into the sun to eat.
It's a warm, wafty spring day across the street in Trinity-Bellwoods Park, and everyone is limping in new sandals, grinning despite the blisters. Turns out, a croque-moniseur and a coffee make a perfect picnic on a sunny day: thick slices of soft bread, deliciously toasty around the edges, filled with thin-sliced ham, and topped with a cap of melted gruyere cheese.
Inside is a mysterious white layer, which looks like mayo, but isn't. Correct me if you know better, but I think it's sauce de Mornay, and I know it's delicious. It tastes a little like melted bocconcini cheese- mild and creamy, and not at all as overpowering as it looks.
Clafouti is a Toronto mainstay of delicious pastries - a large variety of simple, fresh tarts come in single and family sizes, and the croissants, brioches, and breads are divine. The shop takes its name from the clafoutis, a French dessert similar to a fruit flan, essentially a giant baked pancake stuffed with cherries, and well worth a try.
While you're there, you can also stock up on imported Euro groceries- jams, syrups, candy, and coffee. So next time you have a day off, you can kick it French stylez- this bakery is a perfect place to... loaf. Yeah, I went there.
Writing by Nicole Stamp.