Whether you opt for a downtown patisserie or a neighborhood haunt, you can try a different bakery café – with a different specialty – every day of the week.
By CINDA CHAVICH
Paris may be celebrated for it’s café culture, but in Victoria, it’s all about the bakery café.
The tradition of bakers offering their pastries and confections, alongside coffee and conversation, has deep roots in the city. And whether you opt for a downtown patisserie or a neighborhood haunt, you can try a different bakery café – with a different specialty – every day of the week, and come home with dessert for dinner, too.
If you’re looking for pretty French pastries, La Roux Patisserie in Chinatown is a sweet destination. Emily Hatelid and Rebecca Godin have fashioned their menu and space after the Paris cafes where Hatelid honed her baking skills. Whether it’s buttery croissants, lemony tart citron, macaron or Paris Brest pastries filled with praline cream, it’s an elegant little spot to indulge.
Another classic downtown bakery café is The Dutch Bakery, run by the same family since the 1950s and a nostalgic little cake and coffee shop. Take a trip down memory lane with the old-fashioned goodies on offer in the bakery, or stop in at the lunch counter for a burger and a piece of their famed Vanilla Slice.
Bubby Rose’s Bakery Café is a similar local institution that draws regulars for hearty lunches, fresh breads, carrot cake muffins, flakey fruit pies and giant cinnamon rolls.
Some bakery cafes, like Fol Epi Patisserie and Wildfire Bakery, are connected with some of the city’s best artisan bread bakers. Both are famed for their house-milled flour and rustic loaves but you can also sit down for a pan au chocolate pastry or slice of seasonal fruit pie.
There are popular bakery cafes to explore in the city’s neighborhoods, too.
For a beautiful slice of old-fashioned layer cake, Ruth & Dean café is a popular spot in Oak Bay's Estevan Village. Baker Susannah Ruth creates spectacular celebration cakes, and there’s a different cake to sample every day on the counter of her little luncheonette, along with other baked treats like Nanaimo Bars, cupcakes, rustic deep-dish pies, and big savoury breakfast scones, filled with chimichurri, avocado, egg and cheese.
DeLish is a tiny neighborhood haunt, just a block from the ocean on a residential street Oak Bay, a bakery and catering kitchen with a few tables inside, and more on the leafy patio. There are sweets and savouries in the case, fresh breads, muffins, scones, squares and breakfast frittatas – a destination for locals for mini pavlovas, chocolate hazelnut macaroons, take-out meals and party food.
Another busy community bakery café is Pure Vanilla near Estevan Village. It’s a neighborhood gathering place, whether you come for lunch, order a cake, grab a coffee and one of their legendary muffins. It’s a similar scene at Ottavio, where you can pick up a loaf of freshly-baked bread or have a panini for lunch, with great coffee and house-made Italian pastries and gelato, on the patio. The Italian Bakery offers breads, croissant and frozen homestyle sauces, soups, lasagna and other meals to take-and-bake at home.
If you’re traveling further afield, you’ll find rural bakery cafes like Mosi Bakery and Gelateria on West Saanich Road, with its popular Panini, pizzas, croissant and chunky Compost Cookies.
It’s all part of Victoria’s lively artisan food scene and casual café culture, where the bakers behind the counter deliver your daily bread, cakes and pastries, fresh from their own ovens.