Ace Bakery Cafe
Ace Bakery Cafe is an ideal place to stop for breakfast or lunch (unless it's Sunday, when it's closed) on the way to or from a trip to the Castlefield Design District . While Ace has other bakeries throughout the GTA (plus one in South Carolina), this is the only location with its own small cafe attached.
Hidden in plain sight within a commercial zone, the wafting scent of baking bread beckons as we approach the place, and it's difficult to resist--so we don't.
Inside, there is a wide variety of freshly baked, all-natural and preservative-free Ace bread for sale, including its well-known baguettes along with all kinds of gourmet focaccia, ciabatta rolls and pullman loaves.
Although Ace doesn't offer any gluten-free bread (there is house-made, gluten-free artisan granola, however), organic is an option, as are special orders unavailable at retail outlets. Catering is also available for offices in the area.
There's a communal table off to the side as well as seating along a counter by the window for those dining in. In the morning, there are breakfast sandwiches ($4.95 each), muffins and croissants ($2.50 each) until 11 a.m., when the kitchen switches over to lunch.
For coffee ($2.25-$3.50), the cafe uses Mountain View Coffee's Full City fair trade organic beans while teas ($2.25 each) are from Tealish.
Since we arrive at around lunchtime, we try some of the sandwiches ($8.95 each). Obviously, they're all made with fresh bread from the bakery, and each kind is paired with a bread that's meant to complement the filling.
Offerings tend to change every six months, but due to their popularity, the permanent fixtures on the menu are the Cafe Club - herb-baked chicken or smoked turkey breast with double-smoked bacon, tomato slices, lettuce, Sriracha sage mustard and onion aioli on white panini - and the Chicken Waldorf.
I can definitely see (and taste) why the Chicken Waldorf is a winner. It's a Waldorf salad in sandwich form; chicken salad mixed with walnuts, raisins, cranberries and celery topped with slices of Granny Smith apple on raisin walnut bread. The combination of creamy, crunchy and sweet with the softness of the bread is extremely satisfying.
Another notable sandwich is the Toasty Roast Beef, a fresh sesame bun containing hot and tender, smoked, herb-rubbed slices of roast beef plus white cheddar, mozzarella, BBQ sauce and a smoky horseradish mayo. It's a tasty, comforting mess of meat and cheese.
Other options currently include pulled pork on an onion-poppy seed bun, a substantial Veggie Delight (roasted portobello mushrooms with avocado, herb hummus, onion aioli, alfalfa sprouts and herb feta on multigrain panini) and Tuna Meltaway (sustainable tuna with mozzarella on whole grain pumpkin seed bread).
Photos by Hector Vasquez.