IT’S HARD NOT to feel downright giddy when entering Charles Imperiale’s cheerful corner spot filled with display cases of pastries and sweet treats. Especially after taking in the ho-hum signage from the sidewalk — uncharacteristic for this trendy North Toronto strip.
Happy yellow walls are accented by bright white trim around sizable square windows. The rich dark stain of the hardwood floor is echoed in the wood tables and chairs made comfy with dark blue padding.
Open glass cases display the pastry chef ’s creations, all classics of the French patisserie: pain au chocolat, brioche, croissant, tart au fruits frais and the like. Fruit-topped tarts and cakes dominate the display, idyllic for those who don’t want to spoil lunch but a disappointment for chocolate addicts.
Need something more than a pre-noon nibble? Sebastien’s offers two daily sandwiches ($6.95) and three daily quiches ($7.75), served with salad.
3306 Yonge St., 416-544-0333
Lunch for two excluding tax, tip and alcohol:
On this day, the ovens weren’t working at daybreak, so most breads aren’t available for sandwiches, but a croissant alternative does the trick. Thick slices of juicy Black Forest ham call out to carnivores, in balance with nutty, sweet Gruyère. A light spread of Dijon brings the sandwich together. Although the croissant isn’t as airy as most (it’s almost breadlike in consistency), it’s buttery without tasting greasy, and the crust is light and flaky.
A dainty dosing of red vinegar–based dressing enhances the plate’s refreshing side salad of mixed greens, black olives, crisp gourmet pickles, halved baby tomatoes, romaine, radicchio and endive. Bonus points for the pretty plate presentation and portion control.
The same superlative salad accompanies an individual serving of quiche. The earthiness of mushrooms is expertly balanced with crumbles of sharp goat cheese in fluffy egg filling. Sadly, the pastry cup, although flavourful, is a bit hard.
For something sweet to finish, fabulously fresh strawberries, raspberries and blackberries battle it out for balance over a delicious pastry tart cradling cool, creamy custard.
There may be as many beverages to choose from as there are pastries or light lunch plates, but one of them piques curiosity: cocoa barry hot chocolate, made with Barry Callebaut chocolate, the world’s leading manufacturer of high-quality cocoa. I’ll be heading back when the warm weather turns wintry for a comforting cup.
Other hot drinks may sate caffeine fiends (espresso, cappuccino, café au lait, teas), but today, strawberry-banana-orange juice hits the spot.
Our friendly server scored serious bonus points in the eye contact department, but she failed to find a balance between hovering and being MIA.