Sweet Treats: Toronto's Best Dessert Cafes
I've got a serious sweet tooth, and to my mind, dessert should be its own food group. Here are some of the city's most delicious places to satisfy a sugar craving and do some people-watching at the same time.
Dufflet Pastries. 787 Queen St. W. (tel. 416/504-2870). On menus around town, you'll sometimes see mention of "desserts by Dufflet." It's an institution: popular for everything from butter tarts to berry pies or three-tiered cakes heavy with icing and rich with flavor. The cafe also serves light fare.
Patachou. 1120 Yonge St., at Roxborough St. (tel. 416/927-1105); 835 St. Clair Ave. W. (tel. 416/927-1105). Toronto knew little about proper French pastries when this bakery opened almost 30 years ago, but this family-owned patisserie set the bar, and it has remained unchallenged since. Croissants are chewy inside, crisp and flaky on the outside; brioches are perfect; and a range of sweets -- bright fruit tarts, deep chocolate sweets such as the éclair or rich opera cake -- are outstanding. The chic yet friendly cafes also serve lovely continental breakfasts and fine lunches.
Senses Bakery. 2 Queen St. E. (tel. 416/364-7303). The menu has some light, lunch-appropriate food, but the real draw is the divine collection of pastry confections and chocolates.
SOMA Chocolate. In the Distillery District, 55 Mill St. (tel. 416/815-7662). Owners David Castellan and wife Cynthia Leung run the best chocolatier in town. Beans are carefully sourced from far-flung locales for fair-trade and organic certifications, with taste a factor above all. Then, in this micro-factory where the process is on view, the beans are roasted, turned into paste (which is where most chocolatiers begin their work), and spun into beautiful truffles, exquisite bars, irresistible (chocolate) cakes, cookies, and more. In summer, have a gelato. In winter, don't miss the house specialty, a bicerin (beech-er-een) made with melted chocolate, espresso, and warm milk. There's plenty to take away, too.