In Montreal, gluten has a God-like status, in that it can either smite the intolerant with an Old Testament wrath, or it can reward the loyal followers with a glorious bounty of breads, pizzas, croissants, and cannelés the likes of which they've never tasted before. As an ode to everything baked, fried, and yeasty, we’ve scoured the city’s streets to find you the best gluten-loaded things in Montreal.
What you're getting: Bread with pecans, cranberries, and maple
A perfect accompaniment to robust reds and oozing local cheeses, this white bread loaf from Fabrique Arhoma is studded with sizable pecans and cranberries, and a generous drizzle of local maple syrup baked in for sweetness. If it's out of this particular loaf on your next visit, you can’t go wrong with any of the other pastries or baked goods at this East Montreal gem. (Select Fabrique Arhoma products are also available in various bio and health food stores.)
What you’re getting: Chou à la crème
A decadent mound of chocolate, banana, or caramel cream is piped between two perfectly puffed halves of choux pastry to make an unforgettable dessert that is almost too rich to eat. Make sure to chase it with a cup of strong espresso.
What you’re getting: The challah
Imagine the best brioche in the world, baked into the shape of a braid, and topped with a heavy smattering of poppy and sesame seeds. Though it may be bigger than any bread you’ve seen in your life (and possibly more expensive), the challah at Hof Kelsten is worth its weight in gold, and will make all of your French toast dreams come true.
What you’re getting: Kouign amann
You really can’t go wrong by combining butter, dough, and sugar. But when you take these ingredients in copious quantities, fold them upon themselves repeatedly to make infinite layers of melt-in-your-mouth pastry, and bake the whole thing into a pie, you get the Breton treasure that is kouign amann. Go to this tiny Montreal bakery and try a wedge in-house, or buy an entire wheel of this pie for many indulgent bites to come (just don’t be tempted to eat it all in one go; trust us, the pain isn’t worth it).
What you’re getting: The house granola
Though it’s less than a year old, Ma’tine has already garnered a diehard following in the world of brunch and mid-week breakfasts. With Pastry Chef Maxime Daniel-Six at the helm every morning, the kitchen cranks out fresh, immaculate French pastries every day -- and the house granola is a crowd favourite.
What you’re getting: Fougasse
The fougasse is a mythical bread from the region of Provence that is often described as the focaccia of the French. At Joe La Croute, the fougasse comes shaped like the number 8, baked to perfection with pungent black olives and flaky sea salt. It is, essentially, the world’s best pretzel. But before heading down for a bite, check the day’s offerings on the website, as not all breads are available each day.
What you’re getting: The croissant
Though you would be hard pressed to walk past all the beautiful chocolate truffles lined in the display windows of this Plateau mainstay, we urge you to head straight to the counter and order a butter croissant. With the perfect golden colour, an unbelievably flakey crust, and layers of subtle, sweet, and tangy flavours, there’s a reason this croissant is widely recognized as one of the best in Montreal.
What you’re getting: The rugelach or black & white cookies
Prepare for a taste of the Old World at Boulangerie Cheskie. There is nothing sexy or modern about this little bakery. But don’t be fooled by the rickety exterior; the rugelach here is the Jewish take on the chocolate croissant, and there is nothing simple about the interwoven layers of pastry and sweet cocoa and sugar mixture that make up this delicious treat.
What you’re getting: Steamed pork buns
While David Chang of Momofuku may have popularized the steamed bun stuffed with a slab of pork belly, its prodigy dates back much further, to the traditional food of Vietnam streets. In Montreal, Satay Brothers provides a great take on this classic with perfectly cooked, marbled pork belly, fragrant coriander, and crispy cucumbers. If you've got what it takes, try it with some fiery hot peppers.
What you’re getting: Cannelés
It’s hard to talk about French pastries without mentioning cannelés, those crown-like feats of Bordeaux patisserie ingenuity. With a soft, nearly quivering custardy center and a dark caramelized crust, the cannelés at Mamie Clafoutis won’t disappoint.
What you’re getting: Baguette sur levain
For the crispiest crusted baguette with an old-school sourdough taste, check out the artisanal bakery Le Pain Dans Les Voiles. The staff here is truly dedicated to sourcing out the best ingredients and transforming them into incredible products, and the results show in every bite.
What you’re getting: Cannoli
And while you’re in Little Italy, step just a little farther for the ultimate in Italian desserts, the cannoli. Filled with gently sweetened ricotta cream, these crunchy flutes are a messy affair that breaks into a thousand little pieces upon first bite, but their authentic flavour is worth every errant crumb.
What you’re getting: Vegan carrot cake
If you’re looking to impress someone who’s abstaining from butter, cream, and eggs, have no fear -- Montreal is not devoid of vegan-yet-gluten-loaded options. Sophie Sucrée offers all manner of sweet, dairy, and egg-free treats, and chief amongst them is the carrot cake with cashew cream cheese frosting and a sprinkling of candied carrots.
1. La Fabrique Arhoma1700, rue Ontario Est, Montreal
2. Patrice Pâtissier2360 Notre Dame Ouest, Montreal
3. Hof Kelsten4524, Boul. Saint-Laurent, Montreal
4. Pâtisserie Au Kouign Amann322, Ave du Mont-Royal Est, Montreal
5. Ma'tine1310 Maisonneuve Est, Montreal
6. Joe La Croute7024, Ave Casgrain, Montreal
7. Fous Desserts809 Laurier Ave, Montreal
8. Boulangerie Cheskie359 Rue Bernard O, Montreal
9. Satay Brothers3721 Rue Notre Dame O, Montreal
10. Le Pain Dans Les VoilesRue de Castelnau ouest, Montreal
11. La Cornetteria6528, Blvd Saint-Laurent, Montreal
12. Sophie Sucrée167 Ave des Pins Est, Montreal
La Fabrique Arhoma is first and foremost a bakery, but it is so much more than that. Between the breads and the pastries, you'll find cheeses, jams, and cold cuts. Basically, one visit and you leave with heightened bourgeoise tendencies. Get the bread with pecans, cranberries, and maple. It's the perfect mix of sweet and crunchy. But if its out, have no fear. This bakery is in such high demand, it supplies a few local stores.
This jack of all trades is a pastry shop, wine bar, and dessert bar AND they also host cooking classes if all the good food and drink gets you in the mood to try it yourself.
Whether you’re looking for a sweet ending to your day, a grand dessert to bring to your friend’s party, or just a sinful breakfast, you can’t go wrong with this Plateau bakery.
When you walk into Pâtisserie Au Kouign Amann, you need to focus. Don't get distracted by the quiche (it's delicious). Do not divert your path towards the croissants (they're transformative). Head right to the pizza-sized Kouign Amann, which translates literally into, "butter cake." If the words, "butter cake" aren't selling you, we think you're in the wrong place.
This Ville-Marie spot features cafe fare in the morning, bistro/takeout at lunch, and 5 à 7 snacks with natural wines and a gorgeous terrasse.
It's all about the bread at Joe La Croute. Every day it posts its bread offerings on its website, and there is even a category for, "Ephemeral Bread." What does that mean? Go and find out. If it is so ephemeral that there is no more left, get the fougasse. It's a delicious, olive-filled, enormous, pretzel.
Let us be clear. This is no average bakery. This is a chocolate bakery. Chocolate is its thing. It is the brain child of chocolatier Franck Dury-Pavet, and his, "passion for the thousand and one flavors of cocoa." We aren't sure what those flavors are, so you'll have to visit 1,001 times and report back to us. And if you're not in the mood for chocolate (shame on you), the second-best option is a rich, buttery croissant.
Prepare for a taste of the Old World at Boulangerie Cheskie. There is nothing sexy or modern about this little bakery, but don’t be fooled by the rickety exterior; the rugelach here is the Jewish take on the chocolate croissant, and there is nothing simple about the interwoven layers of pastry and sweet cocoa and sugar mixture that make up this delicious treat. Stopping at one is impossible, so don’t even try -- and grab a black & white cookie to go.
Located in St. Henri, Satay Brothers has been offering delectable Singaporean fare (that's vibrant, fragrant, and cheap) since 1983.
The co-founders of this bakery have created a carb-filled arsenal of awesome through tireless experimentation and a commitment to quality ingredients. The best part is in the endless expanse of sweet that is Little Italy, Le Pain Dans Les Voiles offers a little savory as well, with sandwiches and pizzas. But you can get dessert after. Or before. We're not judging.
La Cornetteria is one of the many spots to have jumped on the Cronut bandwagon. And to its credit, it does that hybrid pastry well. But when in Rome (Little Italy), do as the Romans do. The cannoli is this bakery's shining star. But be warned: snacking will be messy. This heavenly cream-filled cone will break on first bite, and you will be licking the crumbs off the table.
You know that thing where you're a vegan and you're friends are all eating cupcakes or ice cream and you have nothing to offer but half-hearted buzz words like, "health," "the environment," and, "animal rights," when really you are questioning you're whole lifestyle decision because damn that cake looks good? You know? That thing? Well take your carnivorous friends to Sophie Sucrée, get the carrot cake, and you may leave with a few extra vegans in your midst.