With winter in the not-so-distant future and an always crisp Montreal fall already underway, it’s time to bulk up a bit, for “hivernation.” There’re really only two ways to go about this: skimping on cardio, or gorging on every pastry in sight. We know that disappointment can hit hard when you’re expecting treats to look as good as they taste; sadly, food can be unpleasantly deceitful. So acquaint yourself with our top Montreal patisserie picks, and finding your sweet spot will be nothing short of a cakewalk.
Going forty years strong, Afroditi invites you to become part of its loyal client base. The Karagiannidis family, proud owners and pastry chefs, are well-versed in both traditional French and Greek baked goods — covering all the bases from spanakopita phyllo to tiramisu. Stop through if you’re in the neighbourhood, or trek to Parc Ex and make a day out of it. Afroditi serves coffee, naturllement, and has a number of tables in the back, marking it as one of the city’s more hospitable bakeries. 756 St Roch, 514-274-5302.
Desserts are already a bit of a guilty pleasure, so why not go all the way? Petits Gateaux can only be described as “dainty,” what with its miniature cakes, lemon tarts, fluffy meringue… Still, we concede, this is by far the best and most expansive cupcake selection we’ve ever seen. Bring the missus, daughter, niece, distant cousin — use anyone as a human sheild (sorry: excuse) to get your foot in the door. You won’t regret it; pretend you did, though, for your own sake. 783 Mont Royal Est, 514-510-5488.
This patisserie takes its name from its pride and joy: the kouign amann, a Breton cake topped with caramelized top coating. Far from a breakfast fix, the pastry is a buttery and delectable treat that you won’t want to share, but might have to. If you’re looking for something with a little more sustenance, the fresh-pressed paninis are highly recommended. Keep this place in your back pocket for the end of a long night of tobogganing, because it’s just down the street from the mountain. 322 Mont Royal Est, 514-845-8813.
By far the least chichi bakery in Montreal, Cocoa Locale avoids playing into typical European expectations of tourists in our city. This joint is simply an honest-to-goodness bakery, with exceptional service. Just like Mom, owner Reema Singh puts a little TLC in every cake, pastry, bundt, and cookie she makes — but here, there’s no risk in being scolded for overindulging. These addictive treats not only satisfy a sweet tooth, but encourage seconds. It’s hard to pick favourites at Cocoa; we suggest starting with the chai chocolate cake. 4807 Parc, 514-271-7162.
As an understated and quiet bakery in the Mile End, Cheskie’s accepts any praise with a humble, and mutual, nod of respect. It’s rumoured to have the best rugelach, babka, and poppy seed danishes in Montreal; yes, don’t go here looking for traditional French croissants, because these fellas keep it kosher. We ventured up on account of the nice weather, but even after one visit rest assured: We’ll be going all winter. 359 Bernard Ouest, 514-271-2254.
Image courtesy of J. Michel Carriere.