Another continent, right around the corner

Situated close to campus, the French Corner Bakery offers not only sweet treats but also a good study spot

I’ve noticed the French Corner Bakery and Patisserie’s bright blue sign many times on my bus ride over to Westdale Mall to buy groceries each week. When I first started taking this bus route I allowed myself to stop by any business that caught my eye before I ran my errands. From the Chinese bakery to the halal butcher, each of these adventures proved a failure. I decided, though, to give the French Corner a chance after two friends recommended it to me.

A stream of bright light nearly blinded me when I entered, and a waft of baked bread warmed my shivering body. The bakery isn’t big. The front area has a few sets of tables and chairs and is framed by a L-shaped counter, beyond which is a series of ovens, prep space, and shelves. I approached the counter and discovered the array of delicious baked goods inside. The French Corner has everything from your basic chocolate chip cookie to slices of sweet loaves, colourful macaroons, and meticulously made French pastries.

Then I discovered the baskets of fresh bread that I’d completely missed on my way in. I spent about 10 minutes pacing the bakery in awe. The woman behind the counter thought I was lost and tried to help me. They were about to close; I tried to pull myself together.

While I walked around mindlessly, a man walked in and swiftly bought the last cinnamon bun. I was devastated: after hummingbird cake, cinnamon buns are my favourite baked good. I decided to purchase a chocolate-covered gingerbread man, a Linzer cookie, and a loaf of their whole-wheat sandwich bread. I couldn’t wait to get home and try my purchases.

The bitter chocolate encasing the gingerbread man was the perfect contrast to its sweet interior. I took tiny bites to make it last longer. (This was one man I wouldn’t let get away.) The Linzer cookie has that strong almond flavour you always hope for but don’t often get in a Linzer cookie. The whole wheat loaf isn’t revolutionary, but, being homemade, it still beats Wonder Bread or Dempster’s any day. I feel like I’ve found a sugary haven a five-minute bus ride from campus that I know will comfort me in times of stress, sadness, and hunger. It’s also more affordable than grabbing a slice of strudel or a crêpe from the nearby Apricot Tree.

Since my first visit to the French Corner, I’ve been back to try their meringue, cinnamon bun, and a mini whole-wheat baguette. The meringue was mildly disappointing. Mind you, my standards are high since I sold my soul to the gigantic chocolate meringues at Carluccio’s, an Italian chain in London, England this past summer. The French Corner’s meringue was too small, with a weak structure and minimal sweetness. But I thoroughly enjoyed the cinnamon bun and its endless intertwining layers of warming cinnamon and brown sugar. And the baguette completely beat out their whole wheat loaf. It had the perfect combination of a crisp exterior with a soft yet firm interior. It made the ideal accompaniment to my Jamaican jerk chili.

The French Corner offers lunch options, including sandwiches and salads, and a variety of hot drinks. I hope to return for a proper sit-down meal in the future. I’d also like to finally try one of the more complex pastries one day, although I’ve always found that style of baked good too finicky for my taste. The French Corner would make a good study spot: it’s close to campus, it’s quiet, and it has an endless supply of baked goods to get you through even the most unbearable of assignments. So I say, “Let UTM eat cake!”

Just don’t touch the cinnamon buns. Those are mine. All mine.

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