BRICK STREET BAKERY (55 Mill, building #45a, 416-214-4949) Complete meals for $15 per person, including all taxes, tip and a pop. Average main $8. Open Tuesday to Saturday 10 am to 8 pm, Sunday 10 am to 6 pm. Licensed. Access: one step at the door, public bathrooms in the Distillery. Rating: NNN Rating: NNN
The folks at brick street bakery don't define it as an English bakery, and who can blame them? But they do manage to remind us, in twee-free fashion, that the cooking from the land of spotted dick can be appetizing.
Pies and sandwiches make up the main body of Brick Street's savoury menu. The Boxing Day turkey sandwich ($8) gets things going on a WASPy note. The first good thing about it is the Brick Street whole wheat bread, which walks a nice line between sandwich loafing and grain-driven earnestness. Residing in its soft slices are some very moist, tender chunks of unprocessed turkey breast dressed with lettuce, cranberry, mayo and stuffing. The one piston not fully firing is the stuffing, which has a very fine crumb and is over-seasoned. Otherwise, it's an excellent lunch.
The hot pies are kept in a glass-fronted warmer that protects them from the injustices a microwave can inflict upon pastry, especially pastry as good as this. The steak-and-stout pie's ($6) stewish contents of beef (not entirely tender but flavoursome), carrots, onion and potato all swim around in the juicy stout-flavoured stock. Very trencherperson.
The enticements of the glass display cases make moving on to dessert a fait accompli. Tarts abound, all with textbook pastry. Chocolate ($3.75) is rich and sweet, with some dark chocolate heft; pecan ($3.50) is nutty, fresh and not overcooked to the point of being unsyrupy; lemon ($3.50) has vibrant curd that makes it dangerous; Bakewell ($3.75) is a restrained rendition of the British dessert oddity.
Another Brit hit is the Eccles cake, a little envelope of buttery puff pastry filled with sweet currants. Seating is limited to a few chairs and tables outside in front of the bakery. Sit there and take in the beauty of the Distillery District while you wait for the cheerful staff to call your number.