For a foodie like me, walking into Time Warner Centre makes me think of one thing: Per Se. And how could you not? With 3 Michelin Stars and consistently ranked in the top 10 restaurants of the world, it’s definitely one of the legendary dining experiences of our time.
Unfortunately I won’t be able to get around to dining there anytime soon. Maybe I’ll have enough money saved up by the end of the year, but with my Europe trip coming up in 2 weeks time I’ll have to settle for something else.
The consolation prize? Bouchon Bakery! Led by Thomas Keller of Per Se/French Laundry fame and his executive pastry chef Sebastian Rouxel, also from the French Laundry, Bouchon Bakery has built up a pretty solid reputation as an excellent option for pastries and baked goods. Just don’t get it mixed up with the type of French restaurant called bouchon, which is a place for traditional Lyon cuisine with specialties like duck pate and sausages!
While it may not have the name appeal of one of the legendary Paris bakeries, the stuff I tried at Bouchon was still really tasty and I think would match up well against some more famous names! I’ll get a chance to confirm that for myself in Paris in a few weeks, but as I mentioned this was definitely not a bad consolation prize.
Does Chef Keller’s bakery live up to the high standards of his restaurants? Time to find out!
Things Roger Ate like a Pig
Raspberry Almond Croissant – 4.5/6 (Very Good – Excellent), $4.25
- Croissant with almond and raspberry filling coated with sliced almonds and sugar
Of course I would get an almond croissant! It is my default for judging the quality of bakeries after all.
This one was definitely a harbinger of good things to come! The skin was full of crunch and fell apart upon first bite in a good but messy way. It could’ve been a bit more flaky rather than crunchy but the texture still did its job.
The interior was soft and fluffy with a super smooth almond filling balanced by the slight tartness of fresh raspberries. I felt the almond flavour could have been stronger in the filling, but the consistency was spot on and provided a good contrast with the skin.
The croissant was topped with a healthy serving of sliced almonds and coated with sugar on one side and raspberry flavoured sugar powder on the other. The raspberry powder made the whole thing nice and fruity, even if it was a little artificial, and the colour contrast was unique too!
While it may not have been truly memorable, this was a solid pastry that I would definitely go for again!
Chocolate Eclair – 4.5/6 (Very Good – Excellent), $3.75
- Hollow choux dough filled with chocolate custard
The eclair was simply made but thoroughly enjoyable! The chocolate filling was heavenly and full of high-quality dark chocolate. It was only slightly sweet, just enough to satisfy my sweet tooth yet still evoke powerful chocolate flavours. The texture was really smooth which when chilled to the perfect temperature, as this was, made the filling an irresistible contradiction of rich and refreshing.
Perhaps this was a result of the slight chill, but the choux dough (a light dough also used for beignets and St. Honore cake) here was a little hard for my liking. It’d probably be impossible to store properly, but the chocolate filling piped into a freshly baked pastry would’ve been amazing!
Pumpkin Macaron (left) – 6/6 (Must try!), $2.25 (possibly seasonal?)
Overall the macaron construction was excellent! If you read my La Maison du Macaron review you’ll remember that I can be pretty picky when it comes to macaron shape. The shells and feet were well-defined with a clean gap between the shell and the inner almond meringue. Apart from that small bump on the pistachio macaron there wasn’t much to nitpick about here.
I loved this pumpkin flavour! It almost didn’t taste like dessert but rather two half-bites of savoury pumpkin soup goodness. The overall flavour was only mildly sweet but rich in pumpkin tones that immediately made me feel like I was carving a pumpkin for Halloween.
The smoothness of the almond meringue and the pumpkin scented cream in the middle reminded me of a velvety autumn soup when infused with such rich pumpkin flavour. Add in the the crisp shell and the sweet touch of a macaron and you have a perfect Thanksgiving bite!
Pistachio Macaron (right) – 3.5/6 (Good – Very Good), $2.25
This macaron was also really well made! While it was still tasty, I don’t think it reached the standards of other pistachio macarons I’ve had (see La Maison du Macaron post). The natural pistachio flavour wasn’t quite strong enough and was overwhelmed by an excess of added sugar. As a result, it tasted a bit too much like the pure sugar wheels that lower-quality bakeries try to pass off as macarons rather than a true French delight.
Given how savoury and well-balanced the pumpkin flavour was, I would’ve expected that Bouchon Bakery would pull off this classic flavour just as well. Maybe I just got one of a bad batch that day!
Bouchon Bakery is a great option for desserts and lives up to the high name of Chef Keller! I would definitely come back for a second visit when I’m craving sweets (which will likely be way too soon…)
Date visited: Nov. 17, 2012
Price range: $0 – $10