Bread, viennoiserie, macaron, pastry, cakes, catering, and wholesale, oh my! I have been a long time fan of “Faubourg” bakery in Kerrisdale, so was ecstatic when then opened their long awaited, second location downtown. For me this is a destination closer to my home and work, and therefore more visit friendly. Though their plans for expansion doesn’t stop there, with goals for a third shop popping up in Park Royal by winter 2013. Now you need not travel far, where ever you are, for an authentic French bakery. At the Hornby location they do the same great delicate desserts, the same fresh loaves of bread, and the same popular flavours of macarons. So you are not missing out on anything from location to location. This includes their pastry chef’s unique offerings only available for that month. October’s selection is a honey caramelized fig and blue cheese macaron, a pumpkin flavoured cream filled croissant, an apple bread, and a spiced apple caramel tower dessert. All very reminiscent of fall and the harvest is brings. What a novel idea to keep you visiting month to month.
Their covered patio was a step up and at the forefront of their shop. The large orange umbrellas used for sun and shade spoke fall and was striking against their chocolate brown awning. It was 1pm and on this sunny Vancouver fall day, patrons were enjoying coffees and teas to go in scarves and knitted wear. With your first step in you could tell this location was much larger and much newer than its predecessor. Polished white counters, spotless glass barriers, and top of the line stainless steel equipment behind the counter. I was surprised that there were so many security cameras in bubbles over head, I guess some would steal for the perfect macaron.
Seating was located on the patio, on two seater tables inside, and as one of the ten high top chairs that lined the long dining table in the centre of the room. On this feature table was a large glass vase, the home of eight or more white orchids. Above hung two metal and sparkling crystal chandeliers. They looked alive like the vines of a plant budding at the ends. This really brought a level of fancy to the space. The panoramic portrait of women and men in the 50’s enjoying tea brought a level of sophistication. And the black and white projected movie against the adjacent blank wall was a unique touch all their own. It all reminded me of a parlour. I could definitely see myself enjoy tea and sweets here. What the space lacked in intimacy, it definitely made up in opulence.
I didn’t like the method in which guests lined up to place their order. Everyone would queue for the one till. Once there, the cashier would have to double back to recall what you wanted from showcases. I am sure my visit was an isolated incident. It would make more sense to have a staff stationed up front to pull your order together, then bring it to the cashier to ring through. I wasn’t getting that, even with the presence of the three other employees, not otherwise engaged with customers.
Given that this is on their front facing display, it is the first thing you see as you enter, and that it is pictured on their bus ads; I had to order myself some macarons. With 11 different flavours and a set deal for ordering in groups, I went for 9 to ensure I tried all that I wanted and the rest that I found unique. I left lemon and chocolate behind, and the following is a list of macarons in order of how I consumed them.
This month’s feature was the Figs and blue cheese macaron. With a flavour combination like that I had to give it a try. I thought the pale hue and its swatch of purplish-navy was a great nod to the colour of blue cheese. As was the case of each macaron, you could definitely make out the ingredients mentioned in their names. The sweet figs and salty cheese made this treat a salty earthy bite. You were able to single out the blue cheese, as it left an after taste not to be forgotten.
The “Faubourg signature” was a passionfruit and vanilla macaron. It was more tart than sweet, I suspect the vanilla was used to balance the fruit.
Judging by what sold down, the salted butter caramel was a best seller. This was sticky and gooey morsel. I was able to clearly make out the richness of the butter.
I didn’t know what cassis was, but was willing to take a bite before I goggled its definition. It turns out it is most commonly a wine made from black current. No wonder its taste reminded me of dates.
The light purple lavender was delicate and flowery. It tasted as pretty as it looked.
The cappuccino was strong and full of flavour, very true to its name.
This was the sweetest pistachio macaron I have ever had. Before this I have only tried ones that bore a gentle nutty hint.
The raspberry tasted juicy as it was bursting with flavour.
And strawberry black pepper was really fresh, with most of its sweetness offset by spicy pepper.
Looking to try something new, my attempts to gravitate away from the beautiful pastries failed. They had eclairs, orange merengue tarts, tiramisu logs, lemon tarts, mille feuille (also referred to as a Napoleon. layers of custard, and vanilla on French pastry), and whole cakes ready to be iced or chocolate piped. Though considering I was looking to take my order with me I opted for one of their freshly baked bread-like goods. I figured they would be more travel friendly. The worse thing is buying a pretty dessert, only to open the box later to find smudged cream and dented chocolate.
I ordered one of their chocolate twists and one of their raisin spirals. Both were topped with rock sugar and both did not have enough of their namesake ingredient. As delicious as they looked biting into either left me disappointed. There was no chocolate inside and no raisins embedded within. The chocolate were dots sprinkled in nooks and crannies of the knotted up dough. Hardly enough to acknowledge the taste of chocolate, let alone get a little per bite. The same could be said for the lack of raisin presence in my spiral. It was good, but I found the pastry itself nothing special. It didn’t live up to my expectations of the place. These were snacks I could get from my local grocery store. Disappointed. They would have made great ends to sandwiches, as they were plain with the need for flavour enhancing ingredients in the middle.
Would I come back? – Yes.
Would I recommend it ? – Yes.
I like their location, just off the Robson street. Parking is a little difficult, but most Vancouverites walk downtown anyways. Easy to get to means easy to quench your macaron cravings. Their pastries are works of art. Their food is made fresh. And they serve savouries and sandwiches for those looking for more of a meal. The space in which all this lives is quite special. The perfect well lite place to sit, take a breath, and enjoy tea and a tart or coffee and a cake. Don’t deny your cravings.