Sometimes there is no better feeling that waking up on the weekend, with no plans and simply taking a walk around Montreal. We tend to head to the Plateau and Old Montreal late at night, and we forget that there are so many shops to visit during the day, or bakeries to stop for a bite of lunch, brunch or even just dessert and coffee. We had been to Olive et Gourmando in Old Montreal, and La Cornetteria in little Italy, but new bakeries have become the talk of our town and that means that the Divas had to check them out.
Hof Kelsten took Montreal by storm when it opened earlier this year. Unlike most bakeries that focus on pastries, this place is all about the bread. Challah bread, raisin bread, ciabatta, etc. are all lined up behind the counter. Many Montreal restaurants are using Hof Kelsten as their bread provider, and that is how we first tried their delicious crusty bread.
They have a few sandwiches on their menu, such as liver, chicken salad, grilled cheese with egg, gravlax, etc. Their coffees are delicious too, and on our visit we tried their cappuccino with a delicious hazelnut and chocolate cookie that melted in your mouth. Jeffrey Finkelstein is the artisanal chef behind Hof Kelsten, and his bakery is currently being raved about as having the best bread in Montreal.
On our visit we were blown away by their salty French toast on challah bread. Thick pieces of bread were prepared into what is easily the best French toast that we have ever tried. Covered in crispy slices of pancetta, a fried egg and doused in maple syrup, the salty and sweet elements were perfectly combined. It was too rich to finish, but we had no regrets!
Of course since Diva #1 was at a bakery she had to get P’tit Frère a chocolate croissant. Perhaps one of his favourite things, when Diva #1 and Sweet Pea went to France they brought back P’ tit Frère a chocolate croissant from Paris. Their only mistake was that they stored it with their stinky French cheese so it was slightly odorous when it arrived in Montreal. Pauvre P’tit Frère!
The chocolate croissant at Hof Kelsten was exactly as it should be; flaky pastry with the right amount of dark chocolate. It wasn’t too sweet and it was as buttery as could be! If you’re in the Plateau and want to stop for a coffee, or if you need bread for a dinner party, visit Hof Kelsten. This unpretentious bakery does not have the frills of a French bakery, it has a simple décor with simple baked goods, but done right.
The salmon gravlax sandwich with cucumbers and cream cheese is fresh and the perfect summer treat! We love splitting the gravlax sandwich and the beef sandwich that is made with mustard, red cabbage and apple slices. It’s a perfect combination if you want to enjoy a rich and meat lunch, with something lighter and fresher. Of course it helps that these sandwiches are on the best bread in the city!
Maison Christian Faure
Maison Christian Faure is to Montreal, as Maison Ladurée is to Paris. It is the quintessential French pastry shop. It encompasses a parlour, pastry shop, private lounge, pastry school and it accommodates parties. Born in France, Chef Christian Faure was schooled in the art of pastry and has been described as an alchemist of pastry. Maison Christian Faure and his pastry school offer workshops for amateurs as well as more specialized pastry courses.
As Diva #1 and Sweet Pea walked into this bakery in Old Montreal we were impressed with the Parisian décor. Behind one counter was a tower of macarons, behind another were the most decadent looking pastries and the third housed croissants, palmiers and other baked goods. Fridges and shelves with treats surrounded them. Every baked good was golden and perfectly flaky; we didn’t know what we wanted to eat first!
We started with a chocolatine as an appetizer. It reminded them of their trip to Paris, as they were strolled down memory lane. Diva #1 loves gazpacho and was intrigued by Maison Christian Faure’s gazpacho of ripe tomatoes topped with diced red peppers and cucumbers. The gazpacho was refreshing and delightful, and there was the option of adding espelette rubbed lobster, but we didn’t take it. Sweet Pea also ordered a glass of their fresh iced tea, coupled with a thick malt-shake striped straw.
Sweet Pea ordered the brunch on the plank to enjoy as much things in Maison Christian Faure as possible. After her chocolatine and homemade iced tea, her eggs benedict arrived. A twist on the traditional, it was served on a choux pastry with sauce Michèle. Sweet Pea had the choice between smoked salmon or ham and she opted for the salmon which added a nice fishy element to this benedict. If that wasn’t enough, a golden brioche Nanterre was served with a caramel sauce and fruit salad, it was a delicious brunch.
Diva #1 was drawn to the duck foie gras brioche tartine. Plenty of foie gras torchon on a buttery brioche with a pear and apple chutney helped create the perfect Parisian lunch. Maison Christian Faure combined sweet and salty with this dish, with hints of tartness from the chutney. Served with slices of fresh apple and a small salad, it was the perfect size dish to leave room for dessert!
Before deciding on the Duck Foie Gras Brioche Tartine, Diva #1 was torn between that and the lobster and royal crab served in a chou pastry. Though she didn’t order it, she saw it go by on the way to someone else’s table. Tangy green apple julienne, mixed vegies in a house mayo, this lobster and royal crab pastry puff had plenty of meaty seafood in it. This is definitely something that we are going to return for!
Maison Christian Faure’s desserts are raved about in Montreal. We ordered a Paris Brest and marveled in the details from the candied hazelnuts to the slight sprinkling of icing sugar. It was one of the best desserts that we had ever tried. So much so that we immediately decided to buy pastries to take home, and for a dinner party that the Divas were going to be guests at that night!
Maison Christian Faure is one of the few perfectly Parisian pastry houses in Montreal. We tried six of their pastries at our dinner party that night. A macaron pastry, an éclair, lemon meringue tart, mille feuille with the creamiest cream, a chocolate mousse, a pistachio cream mousse with raspberry detailing, etc. We could rave about them all but we wouldn’t be doing them justice.
If you are craving a taste of Paris in Old Montreal, head to Maison Christian Faure, to enjoy brunch or lunch, or take pastries home. But believe us, you’ll end up eating them in the car before you make it to your front door.
Rustique is a small bakery in the Sud-Ouest, on Notre-Dame. A few tables are set up in the front window for customers to enjoy their baked goods like brownies, muffins, and cookies, along with their coffee. At the counter, you’re treated to a sea of mini pies, regular-sized pies and other baked goods, all made on-site.
The first time we tried dessert from Rustique was actually at Tuck Shop across the street. We tried their carrot cake and pecan pie, and fell in love with the little bakery ever since. Known for their pies, this bakery is all about the comfort of a nice warm pie. Their classic apple pie has a thick crust with crystalized sugar crystals on top for extra crunch and the inside is filled with layers of caramelized apples that hold their shape when the pie is sliced. It’s perfect with a scoop of vanilla ice cream!
If you cannot choose amongst their regular size pies, fret not! Rustique is known for their mini pies so that you can get a variety. The Boston cream pie is decadent – the custard is smooth, the dark chocolate ganache is rich and the dollop of whip cream lightens the custard. The lemon meringue is perfectly torched and the lemon custard is very tart. Peanut butter and chocolate are a classic combination, and Rustique Pie makes a chocolate and peanut butter pie that will make you swoon. Part cookie and part creamy center, it’s a great balance between salty and sweet.
Rustique carries many types of fruit and cream pies and they vary according to season. But you can be sure you’ll be satisfied no matter what you choose. What’s fun about Rustique is that you can also buy homemade granola, coffee, popcorn, marshmallows and more. This little gem focuses on comfort food, which is different from your traditional French bakery.
Hof Kelsten in the Plateau specializes in bread, Maison Christian Faure in Old Montreal specializes in French pastries and Rustique in the Sud-Ouest is the expert on pies. All of these bakeries have some overlap in their baked goods, but they are placed around the city and have unique specializations. All of these bakeries also offer places to sit and enjoy a coffee and dessert. So get up on the weekend, grab a friend and check out these bakeries, you will not be disappointed, we certainly weren’t!
Our Rating: Always on Thursdays
Tagged: 355 Place Royale, 4524 St-Laurent, 4615 Notre-Dame, Apple Pie, Boston Cream Pie, Bread, Breakfast, Brioche, Brunch, Challah Bread, Chocolate Croissant, Chocolatine, Coffee, éclair, egg benedict, foie gras, French Bakery, French Toast, H2T 1R4, H2Y 2V3, H4C 1S5, Hof Kelsten, Hof Kelsten Montreal, Jeffrey Finkelstein, Lemon Meringue Pie, Macarons, Maison Christian Faure, Maison Christian Faure Montreal, Montreal, Montreal Bakery, Old Montreal, Old Port, Palmier, Paris Brest, Pastries, Pies, Plateau, Rustique Montreal, Rustique Pies, Rustique Pies Montreal, sandwich, Sud-Ouest, tartine