Here's a quick note on two new bakeries that have recently opened up in Vancouver:
|East Village Bakery|
East Village Bakery ($1.65)
2166 East Hastings Street
2166 East Hastings Street
In the base of a new condo building just east of Victoria Drive lies East Village Bakery, a cozy new 'artisanal' bakery no larger than a Manhattan studio apartment. Opened by a fellow that has done time with Terra Breads and other larger bakeries around town, East Village has a handful of the familiar baked goods (breads, pies, tarts, a mixed berry/white chocolate foccia) and a more exotic selection (cookies with orange and Szechuan peppercorn), all made onsite throughout the day - a miracle, given the postage stamp size of the place. The same is true with their croissants, with two, three or more small batches made daily depending on demand.
- Butteriness: 5 out of 5. In the Tartine cookbook, Elisabeth Prueitt and Chad Robertson blame the downfall of croissants the world over on mechanization, and call out specifically a switch from butter to margarine. It's more than obvious that East Village Bakery has not followed this trend; instead, it's clear that they follow the "honest artisanal manner" that Prueitt and Robertson champion so fervently. Every last crumb of this croissant is infused in butter; it's the building block for its DNA.
- Flakiness: 4.25 to 4.5 out of 5. It's slightly deflating when one arrives at East Village Bakery and buys the last croissant left, only to be told that the next batch will be out 35 minutes later. Though the croissant we savoured had succumbed slightly to the moisture in the air, it was still a flaky beaut, and could only be better fresh out of the oven.
- Lightness: 4.75 out of 5. Despite the massive quantities of butter that one imagines went into this croissant, the East Village Bakery croissant is surprisingly light, and one doesn't feel weighed down after eating one.
In the grand scheme of Kerrisdale, Faubourg makes sense. The neighbourhood around West 41st Avenue and West Blvd are as quaint, small town Americana as it gets in Vancouver - for good or for bad - and Faubourg, taking its inspiration from Rue du Faubourg Saint Honore in Paris, fits the part. It's got a good sense of grandeur, Parisian through rose-tinted glasses, in a featured-in-a-coffee-table-book-with-an-accompanying-CD-of-lounge-music kind of way, and the patrons (and there are alot of them) are eating it up. The wide array of breads, cakes, pastries, sandwiches, viennoiserie and more come out in limited quantities at various points during the day, and - despite having been open for a mere week or so - it is already selling out of much that it offers.
- Butteriness: 5 out of 5. Any place that actually names itself after a street in Paris (and puts the name of the city in its signage) would be shamed out of existence if it didn't put as much butter as scientifically possible into its croissant. And Faubourg does.
- Flakiness: 3.5 out of 5. It's perhaps this that is the most telling - for now - about Faubourg. They've got a gorgeous-looking croissant, possibly one of the best looking in the city. It's got a delicately flaky exterior, an eye-pleaser if ever there was one. But the interior was gummy and overly chewy, and though there was layer upon layer of air inside their croissant, it was just off-point enough to be disconcerting (the same was true of their pain au chocolate). Perhaps it's a mixture of opening jitters and being overwhelmed by the huge turnout.
- Lightness: 4.25 out of 5. If not for the gumminess and chewiness, Faubourg's croissant would be a light affair. Instead, we've got a French romance that's petering out before it began.