PATACHOU (835 St. Clair West, at Winona, 416-782-0122) Complete lunches for $17 per person, including all taxes, tip and a cappuccino. Average main $7. Open Monday to Friday 8:30 am to 7 pm, Saturday 8:30 am to 6 pm, Sunday 10 am to 4 pm. Unlicensed. Access: barrier-free. Rating: NNN Rating: NNN
After decades of serving puff pastry to the upper crust at Summerhill and Yonge, Patachou's new location on St. Clair West spreads the wealth.
Located in a former automotive parts garage, the small dining area and patio are modern to the point of spartan. Most of the scenery is behind the gleaming glass of the display cases filled with salads, sandwiches, tarts, cakes and pastries.
Almost everything at Patachou is takeout-compatible and can go from microwave to table. The tart niçoise ($4.85) is a wedge of eggplant, zucchini and tomato topped with melted Gruyère. Fresh-tasting and balanced, all it lacks is some kick, but the excellent crust survives the microwave.
More strongly flavoured is the French onion soup ($4.25), which is full of slithering onion and good stretchy Gruyère. The croque-monsieur ($5.75) is, like the decor, minimalist. More charismatic is the green bean salad ($3.75) with red onion and mustard vinaigrette. Everything is ordered at the counter and brought to your table in an efficient and friendly manner.
All of the above are really just the prelude to Patachou's main act - baked goods and pastries, including some of Toronto's best croissants ($1.50). Crackly-crusted and chewy-buttery, they justify a lifetime of brunching.
Pastries also succeed. The Supreme ($4.50), a fluffy tennis ball of white chocolate, chocolate sponge cake and raspberry coulis, and the Karamanda ($4.25), with its layers of caramel cream and vanilla genoise, embody quality ingredients and production-line-free techniques. Take home some butter-cream-filled macaroons (55 cents).
Fans of the original Patachou will love the St. Clair location. Ever tried parking a Mercedes SUV on Yonge?