Baguette & Co.
Baguette & Co. brings sustainable, ethical, and accessible food to the Junction without sacrificing quality. Not an easy feat, but co-owners Lynn Kwon and her husband make it look easy, with their cafe that features a fusion menu of Vietnamese baguettes, baked goods, soups, salads and made-to-order drinks.
"It's the lovechild of what me and my husband experienced growing up," Lynn explains. "We took a cafe and gave it an Asian influence. We're Vietnamese-Korean so we're both strongly influenced by Asia, but still grew up in a Western environment. We wanted our café to reflect that.'
At the centre is Baguette & Co. as an ethical business, from sustainability to accessibility. For the former they use Ontario-sourced ingredients as much as possible, including all the meats, and use recyclable or biodegradable disposables, with 20 cents off drinks if you bring in your own mug.
"We have three housing co-ops in the area, where people come from different socioeconomic backgrounds, so we keep our pricing very low - you can get a sandwich under $3 here, just so that it is accessible for everybody," Lynn says of the concept.
Almost everything is made in-house, including croissants baked that morning or the roast they started at 4am when hand-carved roast beef was the weekly special.
No shortcuts, no cold cuts: their proteins have a delicious smoky aroma attributed to Baguette's exclusive use of charcoal for their grilling.
Primarily operating as a takeout counter, the restaurant itself is small with a clean, minimalist decor and enough seats to fit six plus a bench outside, and standing room.
An open fridge on the right side features canned and bottled beverages, in addition to the fresh juices and smoothies they've made, or you can customize your own smoothie blend from fruits they have available for $3.39.
Customers can ask for fruit off of what they see on the back shelf, and Baguette will blend it right there in front of you - nothing more or less than exactly what you want.
The Vietnamese iced coffee ($2.99) tasted like real iced coffee should: strong espresso that hits you instantly, rich in flavour, perfectly sweetened with condensed milk, and a touch of brain freeze - it puts Tim Hortons to shame.
Weekly specials like chicken lettuce wraps (three for $5.49) offer good value. Prices for a baguette range from $2.99 for char-grilled tofu to $3.49 for pork or $3.99 for char-grilled chicken or beef.
You then select your style between "east," with their homemade butter, pork pâté, pickled carrot/daikon, cilantro, soy, and spicy pepper, or "west" with mayo, lettuce, and tomato, both on a bun that is nicely crispy on the outside and soft on the inside.
Large salads with your choice of a protein cost $4.59. For veggie lovers they've turned Wednesdays into a vegetarian/vegan haven, where any special can be converted to a vegan version - for example, hoisin chicken wraps converted to vegan mushroom lettuce wraps.
Lastly, their soups encompass Lynn's obsession with high quality above all - my Thai coconut chicken soup, the daily special, was light and full of deep flavour ($1.99 for small, $2.99 for large).
They seek to continue being creative with always-changing weekly specials (a kimchi poutine this week looks drool-worthy) and listening to feedback from their growing customer base on what they want to see next.