French kiss

Near-Beaches French patisserie's baked goods and brunches show a light touch


Rating: NNNN


i am a very stylish girl. or so goes the voice of a fashion model sampled on the song of the same name by DJ du jour Dimitri From Paris. It’d make a fabulous imaginary soundtrack to Tournayre Patisserie, a pistachio-hued, postcard-perfect evocation of a casual French café that opened near the Beaches six months ago.Tongues already wag. Owners Marc and Sandra Tournayre were briefly partners at Rahier, the high-profile bakery on Bayview. This time, firmly settled in their own building, the couple want to keep things low-key. Although the tiny 12-seat spot is often full ­– good luck getting a table on the weekend ­– the Tournayres have no plans to expand to meet the obvious demand. Quel quixotique!

Quite simply, Tournayre’s croissants are the equal of the much ballyhooed Rahier’s and Bonjour Brioche’s. Plain ($1.35) they make a delightful foil for marmalade, but it’s the fancy almond version ($1.75) soaked in rum, coated in slivered nuts and filled with creamy almond paste that’s causing the neighbourhood to salivate. Before serving, don’t forget to warm up pain au chocolat ($1.50), a square croissant loaded with milk chocolate. The result is pure heaven.

But I’ll come back for the Black Forest ham and Swiss Gruyère sandwich on a flaky croissant ($3.50), a melting mix of charcuterie, cheese and bechamel sauce. The quiche here, while not quite the ethereal wonder that’s served over at Jules, is light and nicely crusted, especially the sweet pear, smoky fat-free bacon and blue cheese translation (all quiches $4.50 for a quarter of an 8-inch pie/$15 whole). Sure, the side salad ($2.50) features boring old mesclun, but these greens are doused in a delightful Dijon vinaigrette before being tossed with fresh blueberries.

More berries, as well as mango and pink grapefruit wedges, show up alongside Friday-to-Sunday-only brioche bread pudding ($5.75), an unsurpassed marriage of eggy bread and custard, topped with caramelized brown sugar and drizzled with super-sweet maple syrup. Wash it all down with a first-rate decaf latte ($2.60), gloriously foamy and served in a wide-brimmed bowl.

The Tournayres themselves ooze Gallic charm. Just listening to them prattling away at each other in French is so romantic. (Granted, they’re probably saying that they’re out of milk.) And if they’d only replace the generic classical music playing over the radio with some francophone classics by Air or Modjo or Tahiti 80, Tournayre Patisserie could become an even more stylish girl.

TOURNAYRE PATISSERIE (1856 Queen East, 693-7997) Pistachio-hued Parisian café in the near-Beach serving light all-day brunches and lunches. Terrific takeaway pastries, breads and tarts, too. Limited seating means midday lineups on the weekend. Complete meals for $13 per person, including all taxes and tip. Open Tuesday to Friday 8 am to 6 pm, Saturday 8:30 am to 5 pm, and Sunday 9 am to 5 pm. Closed Monday and holidays. Unlicensed. Smoke-free. Cash only. Access: One step at door, washrooms on same floor. Rating: NNNN

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