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Rahier Patisserie


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#1 Explorer

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Posted 24 February 2003 - 08:17 AM

Just curious about other customer service experiences with Rahier.

Rahier is probably the best french pastry shop in Toronto (although they are Belgian- and yes, there is Tournayre, but I don't get there as often because it's out of the way for me, unfortunately)
I have been going to Rahier for over 2 years, and have ordered just about every cake or fruit tart they make,--Buche de Noel, Galette des Rois, Valentine cake, and many fruit tarts on the menu.

Let's start with the croissants. Their plain croissants are the best in town, not too crunchy, not too soft. But I still don't understand why the only Pain au chocolat they will make are drenched with sugar icing. I don't recall seeing this in France as the norm. When asking if they could make a few for me without the icing, the answer was No-because they said; they apparently line them-up and spray them as an assembly line. Is taking 6 of them out of the tray before spraying to please a customer too much to ask? Am I the only person in Toronto that doesn't want icing sugar on the chocolate croissant? The chocolate is sweet enough. More sugar makes it too sweet, let alone messy to eat. On the other hand, I give them credit for innovations such as a Pistacho Danish which was amazing.

Cakes. Their cakes are mostly categorized into mouses and fruit tarts. The Voltaire for eg. has too much mouse, not enough flourless cake; I don't understand the obsession with mouses at the detriment of a good taste of sponginess. The Buche de Noel had razor thin layers of cake; again a lot more mouse than cake.

After 2 years of going there, it's kind of boring now. Their selections do not change much. Yes, they introduced ice cream cake---we tried the Vacherin in question, and it was so-so. The tough part in a Vacherin is to have the hard meringue inside with the ice-cream. Theirs is a cope-out with soft meringue inside and langue-de-chat hard meringue layered on the outside.

Service arrogance. Well, am only a regular customer who shows up there too often; what an offence that is! Other friends that go there noticed the same thing; so I was relieved to deduct it wasn't just me. The owner almost never acknowledges regular customers; they don't like it when you ask them a question about such and such cake; they don't smile; they are very inflexible with special orders. One time, they lost my order [if you don't pre-oder croissants and baguettes, they are gone by early morning on busy days). So, their pathetic response was "it was a mistake"; they barely uttered "sorry" and didn't suggest a remedy til I pressed them. By magic, 2 back-up baguettes showed up; a brioche was found and I had to settle with their yukkie pain au chocolat instead of plain croissants. They voluntarily comp'ed them -ok; but I felt I was fighting for my life. They made me feel so bad that I didn't roll over because they made a mistake! There were other instances of bad service that were narrated to me by friends, but I won't repeat them here.

On a -10C shilling pre-Christmas morning, there was a 30 min line-up outside their store, in addition to another one inside the store reminiscent of an amusement part line-up, but I would hate to conclude that Torontonians enjoy waiting for bad service. My logical deduction is there is a shortage of other similar-quality pastry shops.

If some of you have been the recipient of cold, indifferent, stone-faced service you get often in Paris shops; that's what I am talking about here. But I don't think that this type of service fits North America. I recently visited Payard in Manhattan, and although Payard's selection and business level was probably 10 times Rahier's, and as we hoped from one counter to another and sat down for a dozen mignardises and 4 pastries, we got normal service with a smile. I don't understand Rahier's arrogant service.

Any other good/bad experiences at Rahier?
"I hate people who are not serious about their meals." Oscar Wilde

#2 Lesley C

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Posted 24 February 2003 - 10:07 AM

Time to move to Toronto and open a pastry shop! :smile:

Explorer, do you know if this was the fellow featured on Martha Stewart making brioche?

#3 Explorer

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Posted 24 February 2003 - 01:47 PM

Lesley; I don't think it was Francois Rahier (pastry chef/owner at Rahier) on Martha Stewart. Was it a Canadian that did the brioche?
"I hate people who are not serious about their meals." Oscar Wilde

#4 Lesley C

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Posted 24 February 2003 - 02:33 PM

No, he was French. Young guy, brown hair. I'll try to track down the article.

#5 canadian-eh

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Posted 24 February 2003 - 02:47 PM

I have never found Rahier to be a "friendly" experience. But for a time, the cakes make it worth the effort and lineups.

Recently, a new place opened with quality at least equal, if not better.

And as there are few lineups and according few staff, the service is always friendly. And appreciated. However, its not a place for bread (they resell Ace).

You might consider ordering in advance too as the items available for "unreserved" purchase may be light from time to time (especially early in the week).

Its:

Fleurdelys Patisserie Phone: (416)545-0509
2046 Yonge Street, Toronto, ON M4S 1Z9

Since its inception, I see no reason to deal with Rahier.

And lets just say the Dufflet's stuff doesn't even merit any discussion.

Try this place - you won't be disappointed.

#6 Explorer

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Posted 24 February 2003 - 03:03 PM

I knew of Fleur de Lys and have tried it, but not their cakes.
By the look of their croissants, I couldn't buy them; then I tried 2 tarts and they weren't that great;
so I haven't tried the Fleur de Lys cakes but based on sampling their pastries, it didn't cut it for me.

If they were that great; they would be able to cut into Rahier's business, but that's not my observation. Fleur de Lys was empty on the same day that Rahier was almost experiencing pick-up riots.

As for Dufflet- you're right- don't even mention it. It's like saying that Emeril is a gourmet chef.

Since you are from Vancouver, did you ever notice that 5Senses in Vancouver has much better pastries than the one in Toronto? Have you tried deserts at Diva? It's truly amazing. (same pastry-chef as 5Senses around the corner)
"I hate people who are not serious about their meals." Oscar Wilde

#7 SteveW

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Posted 24 February 2003 - 05:05 PM

Time to move to Toronto and open a pastry shop!  :smile:

Explorer, do you know if this was the fellow featured on Martha Stewart making brioche?

Francois Rahier has definitely appeared on Marth Stewart Living before(I remember two appearances). I can't remember if he made brioche, croissant and/or something similiar.

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Steve

#8 Explorer

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Posted 24 February 2003 - 05:24 PM

Steve- That would be interesting if he did- although I did a search on MS web site and his name didn't come up. Nonetheless, that doesn't make him a genious necessarily for appearing on MS nor does it make customer service at his pastry shop any better.

Anyways- to get back on track with the topic; we're discussing customer service at Rahier.
"I hate people who are not serious about their meals." Oscar Wilde

#9 Lesley C

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Posted 24 February 2003 - 10:17 PM

Well if that was Rahier, I'll tell you, he didn't do much smiling on that show either. :rolleyes:

#10 estufarian

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Posted 25 February 2003 - 07:16 AM

Comments all-round here.
Rahier provides the quintessential 'French' experience - including attitude. I'll stop if there's both a parking place and no line-up, but otherwise go elsewhere. Yes, the croissants are great, but don't erase the nasty taste in your mouth from the attitude.
Incidentally they do sometimes have 'special' items in the back - they keep the mini-tarts back there that used to be displayed out front. I guess the profits on the large tarts are better.

Fleur de Lys - agree, generally OK but not worth a detour. But if you're there try the meringues, particularly the passion fruit.

Dufflet - mass production of course, but still the best mass-produced around.

Sen5ses - Now closed - but they claim they'll reopen elsewhere.

And one not mentioned Fabians Konditorei (on Markham Road, N of Lawrence). Has the best German-style pastries (all the above being french).

#11 Degustation

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Posted 25 February 2003 - 08:12 AM

Rahier seemed much warmer in the earlier days and there seemed to be a buzz when they joined up with Tournayre. Ever since the split it seems much colder and robotic. Tournayre has a nice friendly atmosphere that reflects their location in the Beaches. I was there during the Jazz festival last summer and the food was great and so was the staff.

Alex Farms cheeses on Yonge sells Rahier baguettes, so I don't have to face the mob just for that. Fleur de Lys is not quite the same class but the shop is nearby and they're not too bad if you just want a croissant. The pastry chef, who trained in France had a dessert tasting just before Christmas to drum up business.

Dufflet is just dreck...too sweet...no other discernible flavour.

#12 Lesley C

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Posted 25 February 2003 - 08:18 AM

Waht about this Pate a Chou place in Rosedale?

#13 Explorer

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Posted 25 February 2003 - 08:38 AM

Back in the mid-late 80's, Patachou was "the" pastry place. Although they are still honorable, they seem to have stagnated as far as innovations and new products. Their fruit tarts are fine. They make an amazing Bostoc for $2; but their eclairs are now a disaster and so was their most recent Buche de Noel. I think it's become more of a lunch/bkfst place with cute soups and salads.

estufarian- You're right; I don't mind importing all kinds of French good stuff, but not French attitude. It doesn't sell in N.A.
"I hate people who are not serious about their meals." Oscar Wilde

#14 SteveW

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Posted 26 February 2003 - 07:29 AM

Besides Tournayre(already mentioned by Degustation here), I've heard big raves about Dessert Trends. Anyone with comments on this establishment?

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Steve

#15 Degustation

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Posted 26 February 2003 - 08:48 AM

I've heard good things about Don Duong's stuff and his creations on his website looks gorgeous. He only has a workshop and showroom which was not intended for retail, but apparently the people keep walking in. He plans on setting up a retail place in 2003. I think his pastries are available at Pusateri's, Whole Foods and other places.

Dessert Trends

#16 SteveW

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Posted 26 February 2003 - 08:58 AM

He has brought new property at Dupont & Landsdowne. That will be soon, his new location, where he can handle wholesale, wedding cake & retail operations more equally.

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Steve

#17 Degustation

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Posted 26 February 2003 - 09:35 AM

He has brought new property at Dupont & Landsdowne. That will be soon, his new location, where he can handle wholesale, wedding cake & retail operations more equally.

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Steve

Yes I have heard that too, but I'm glad his pastries are available at locations that are closer to me when I need a fix.

Re: Fleurdelys Patisserie (that's how he spells it), the owner -pastry chef Miro Musil trained at Lenotre before working at the Four Seasons. His meringues are apparently 90% fruit and only 10% sugar.

#18 Explorer

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Posted 26 February 2003 - 11:02 AM

Just as a clarification for readers: Don Duong is the owner of Dessert Trends are the same thing. I just called him, and he's still not sure when the retail location will open. He said it's still in the construction or renovation phase.
It appears that he takes orders only (i.e. you can't walk-in and buy it) specifically cakes and small mignardises/bouchee types. His stuff is available at Pusateris and Holt Renfrew as well. So given these 2 locations have other suppliers as well on display, you have to ask specifically which one is from Duong.

But what I found the most intriguing is that he is the supplier to the Air France First Class lounge at the airport. I don't want to read more into it except that perhaps somebody at Air France must have "snubbed" the other "french" places in town, in favor of Duong. I like that and I will definitely try Duong's at the next occasion.
"I hate people who are not serious about their meals." Oscar Wilde

#19 Degustation

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Posted 01 November 2003 - 07:17 AM

Sigh. It seems that Tournayre has just recently closed up shop and the owners have returned to France. They were my main reason for venturing out to the Beaches at various times during the year. I really liked their ham and cheese croissants with a wonderful bechamel. Sigh.

Yesterday I sampled an almond croissant at Patachou - yuck - thick and dense like a bread roll, with no discernible amount of flakiness whatsoever.