PATISSERIE LA CIGOGNE (1626 Bayview, at Manor, 416-487-1234) Complete meals for $10 per person, including all taxes, tip and a tea. Average main $7. Open Monday to Friday 7:30 am to 7 pm, Saturday 8 am to 7 pm, Sunday 8 am to 5:30 pm. Unlicensed. Access: barrier-free. Rating: NNN Rating: NNN
Downtown may be in a tizzy over tapas, but Leaside has a more refined passion: the croissant.
The Queen West of the support hose set, this tony nabe is home to several postcard-perfect Parisian patisseries. Each has a loyal following - Le Comptoir de Celestin (623 Mt. Pleasant, at Manor, 416-544-1733), Jules (617 Mt. Pleasant, at Manor, 416-481-1666), La Bamboche (4 Manor East, at Yonge, 416-481-6735) and Rahier (1586 Bayview, at Belsize, 416-482-0917) - but only one serves flaming pie.
Every Saturday and Sunday from 11 am to 3 pm, Thierry Schmitt's three-year-old La Cigogne offers tarte flambée ($8.50), an Alsatian take on pizza. Dressed with thinly sliced onion and crumbled bacon, its thin cracker crust comes spread with a cheesy béchamel nipped with Gruyère.
Well-heeled locals also tuck into classic Croque Madame finished with fried egg ($6.50) and quiche; our favourite, Provençale ($7.50), is rife with chèvre, diced ham, Roma tomatoes and fresh basil, sided with house greens in a tart, fruity vinaigrette.
There's also a lineup of made-to-order sandwiches built on chewy house-baked baguette (all $6.05), like roughly textured, deliciously fatty cottage pâté with Dijon, or a refreshing combo of Brie, green apple and English cucumber.
Plus, naturellement, the display cases hold a gorgeous array of pastries - towers of croquembouches (starting at $4.50 per person), fragile blueberry-filled Danishes ($2.40) and architectural mini-gateaux with names like Intense ($4.35), a baseball-sized orb of raspberry mousse coated with boozy dark chocolate.
And the croissants? All solid contenders - plain ($1.45), petite pain au chocolat ($1.90), nutty almond ($2.60) - but the title of uptown's best croissant goes to Patachou (1120 Yonge, at Marlborough, 416-927-1105, and other). Not only is it the tastiest, its buttery outer shell giving way to yeasty dough, but Patachou's is also the lightest, weighing in at a whopping 1 ounce ($1.75). Why, it's virtually low-cal!