Beaucoup Bakery, Vancouver.

February 2017

Another very good bakery! This makes, with Thierry and Patisserie Lebeau, three that I know of in town. It’s a hole in the wall in the former industrial area south of West 4th Avenue, a bit poorly-marked and so hard to find (2150 Fir Street), and parking is at a premium. But it’s worth the trouble.

One goes up three concrete stairs into the tiny coffee shop (about a dozen seats and room for half a dozen to stand up) which is packed at busy times. There are a few little tables out front, not much use in the winter of course. I found the crowd tiresomely trendy compared to Lebeau where it’s mostly an eclectic mix of mature regulars. Staff is efficient and polite, and the goods are up on display and listed on a big blackboard.

Based on a thousand disappointments, I think I’m able to tell mediocre and bad baking pretty much on sight and I was predicting these croissants, chaussons aux pommes, etc. were going to be dry because they were unusually dark in colour. Not so at all! They are packed with butter, soft, and where appropriate as sweet as pie.

I’m just getting started here, but the almond croissant was a fully satisfying delight, crumbly crisp outside with shaved almonds, soft with rich sweet almond paste inside. Fully accessible quality wheat flour and butter flavours. The croissants looked very brown but are a delicious soft and flavorful surprise inside. I think they’ve been washed with something other than egg to get that dark colour. A little hockey-puck roll is crisp, heavy with butter, and sweet, also available with cinnamon flavour.

The coffee is fair, a bitter double espresso that requires 3 sachets of sugar for me. This is the same kind of trendiness I believe attracts many people to dark chocolate, but at least with this coffee you can make it palatable. No sign of bread or other boulangerie but there are a few nice-looking fancy desserts on display. Prices are at or above the other two good bakeries.

A week later I tried the cinnamon swirl. Again the thing looked overcooked to the point of being dried out, but no it was packed with butter and sugar and delivered a big crispy satisfying treat. These people know how to keep the customer happy.

One more location where someone for a refreshing change is not afraid of butter, salt, and sugar, and is using top-line ingredients and baking things traditionally and to perfection. I’ll definitely brave the trendy narcissism of the current clientele and lack of space and add it to my list of morning destinations. Food 9.1, service not applicable really but say 7.0, ambience also not very relevant but a bit annoying, value 7.3, peace and quiet: forget it..

About John Sloan

John Sloan is a senior academic physician in the Department of Family Practice at the University of British Columbia, and has spent most of his 30 years' practice caring for the frail elderly in Vancouver. He is the author of "A Bitter Pill: How the Medical System is Failing the Elderly", published in 2009 by Greystone Books. His innovative primary care practice for the frail elderly has been adopted by Vancouver Coastal Health and is expanding. Dr. Sloan lectures throughout North America on care of the elderly.
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