Janchenko Bakery specializes in fresh homemade Eastern European desserts and comfort food items.
The place has been around for a long time as Anna’s, but has had some much-needed TLC put into it by new owner Maria Janchenko.
With a Polish baker (who’s been working at the place as Anna’s for decades) and a Hungarian pastry chef in tow, she half-jokes that the “whole Eastern Bloc” is represented here. This is mostly a grab-and-go spot but there is some scant seating.
Antique machinery pre-dating even the Eastern Bloc era itself surprisingly drives this place, an oven Maria swears may be older than Canada that’s always been here, an antique donut press that divides dough perfectly evenly and an ancient cast iron pot.
The precious pot, so old it was almost accidentally thrown away, is used to make hrustiki by hand, a simple but mind-blowing Polish dessert made with nothing but delicate fried dough and an excessive amount of donut sugar.
Hot and fresh they are divine, but you can find them wholesale too at places like Starsky, which Janchenko supplies with several products.
There are also old world poppy seed rolls, thick rectangular cheesecakes, dobosh, medovik, panchki donuts, lemon lavender bars and pretty crepe cakes.
Lemon tarts ($4.50) are just one of many baked goods with beautiful edible decorations: you won’t find any heavy, tasteless fondant here. Maria gets the flowers from a distributor in Etobicoke, this tart made with a full butter crust, lemon pie filling and topped with meringue.
Hearty basics like beef rib, or roast pork or beef ($9.50 a pound) are $12.50 when served with sauerkraut and Maria’s homemade mashed potatoes made with butter and sour cream.
A latke with smoked salmon and dill sauce ($8.50) is set off by the harmony of sour cream, dill, lemon zest and Polish mustard in the sauce, creamy and rich yet bright.
Thick but lightly breaded pork schnitzel is $9.50 a pound, and of course you have to add sauerkraut ($5.50 a pound) and a cabbage roll ($3.50) along with a dollop of sour cream and beet salad to complete the plate.
Walter’s Russian-style potato salad makes an excellent side for any meal here, zesty and made using scratch mayo, leeks and apples.
You can also pick up some homemade items retail from a fridge at the back, like frozen pierogies, soups ($9.75 for a litre) or crepes ($3).
There’s also beet salad ($3.25) made with Maria’s mom’s original recipe and Walter’s awesome potato salad.
The youngest of five daughters, Maria says she actually named the place for her father.