Sundays Just Got a Whole Lot Sweeter – The $2 Cupcake, Tart, Square, & Cookie Bonanza at Desmond & Beatrice!

1 Comment

You might think of Sundays as quiet, peaceful, lazy days.  Many shop owners choose Sunday to have their day off, traffic on the road is a little lighter save for the long weekends, and places aren’t open as late as they are during the rest of the week.  At Desmond & Beatrice on Queen Street East in Riverside though, Sundays might as well be the new Friday!  *NEWS BULLENTIN*  Sundays at D&B are $2 bonanza days!  $2 cupcakes, $2 tarts and squares, $2 EVERYTHING!  Everything on their edible display counter anyway; no way are we getting away with cute $2 aprons!  I have no idea how long D&B has had this promotion (*note to self: ask next time!), but boy does it get people extra kooky-crazy for their delectable, delightful desserts!  It sure did that to me.  I passed by their bake shop before they had opened, glanced at the front window, and almost got whiplash when I whipped around to make sure I wasn’t hallucinating.  $2 Sundays?!  No speciality cupcakery with the exception of Dessert Lady in Yorkville, who sells their vanilla and chocolate ones for $2, sells their wares for that price. 

And apparently, I was a little late to the party because when I came back when they were open later on in the day, they had been wiped clean!  The only thing that greeted me was a dish of peanut butter and banana cupcakes.  I should have known better.  Sundays might be a little on the quieter side (although you’d never know it taking the bus; it is crowded and packed early in the morning!  And by “early”, I mean 9am by bus schedule standards), but so many people are out and about in the city, whether it’s for a festival, a sporting event, a concert, or just good old fashioned weekend brunch.  Anyway, lucky for me, D&B had enough sense and hindsight to keep their delicious cupcakes coming and before I knew it, full, fresh, beautiful batches of red velvet, vanilla, and double chocolate were before me, waiting to be chosen like the crown jewel in a treasure chest.  And my precious cupcake of choice this time?  Double chocolate!

If you can believe it, chocolate cupcakes with chocolate frosting are something I don’t have very often.  If you were to go through my eleventy billion cupcake posts on the blog, you’d find less than 5 devoted to chocolate on chocolate.  And it’s not because I don’t like chocolate – I love chocolate!  It’s simply because I want to paint a more diversified portrait of the cupcake flavours available in the city and now that I have a steady foundation of posts (I believe this post here will be Cupcake Chronicles’ 90th!), I can feature more classic flavours here and there to round things out.  This double chocolate cupcake post is inspired and dedicated in part to both my boyfriend and my brother, two chocolate lovers whom I hold very dear to me, and given how my brother can take or leave cupcakes, I’m determined to find him the best of the best to really wow him.  And this one right here from Desmond & Beatrice has to belong on everyone’s Top 3 Most Amazing Chocolate Cupcakes because it is out of this world and RIDONKULOUS.  Yes, that’s right, ridonkulous.

Chocolate cupcakes are either really great or really bad.  Some can fall in the so-so category, but more often than not, they’re love it or hate it.  Some are way too dry, too powdery (a little too much of that cocoa powder taste), or too dense to the point where it just tastes like thick, goopy chocolate muck.  D&B’s amazing double chocolate delight is what EVERY chocolate cupcake should aspire to be like.  I was shocked out of my skirt because I couldn’t believe how damn delicious this was!  It is a fudgy, creamy embodiment of a brownie in cupake form.  It tastes like chocolate brownie fudge with fluffy cake.  It is so moist, so creamy and so decadent.  The frosing is as smooth as it gets and eating it with a fork makes you feel like you’re digging into a special chocolate birthday cake with, quite possibly, some of the best chocolate frosting in the world.  If you’re head over heels over brownies, this cupcake is the answer to your prayers, in addition to D&B’s crazy $2 Sunday sale!  I don’t think anybody needs an incentive to go to D&B, but this promotion sure is a mighty sweet deal so take advantage of it if you’re in the area! 

*****

Desmond & Beatrice Bake Shop and Cupcakery is located at 750 Queen Street East, just one block east of Broadview Ave. in the Riverside District.  They are open from Tuesday-Sunday (closed Mondays), from 12pm-6pm on Tuesdays and Wednesdays, 11am-7pm on Thursdays and Fridays, 10am-5pm on Saturdays, and 11am-5pm on Sundays.

Advertisements

The Weekend Brunch Club – Neapolitan Eggs in Stewed Tomatoes, Potato Rosti, and Springtime Brunch at Table 17

Leave a comment

I’ll be the first to admit that I am one of the most indecisive people on this plant.  I have had the time of my life writing Ate by Ate, but I’m telling you, I drive myself crazy sometimes with my own waffling.  It takes me days to figure out which places I’d like to visit, what neighbourhoods I want to explore, and what menu items I want to try, and it’s not because I’m bored of my options – quite the opposite.  There are so MANY amazing choices for me to choose from that, as a result, I often find myself wanting to do a gazillion things at once and this in turn makes things harder because I know I have to come to a concrete decision sooner or later. 

This just in: for the first time in goodness knows how long, I had no trouble deciding on where I wanted to have a nice weekend brunch a few weeks ago and shockingly enough, what I wanted to have.  This easy breezy decision even took me by surprise.  My tummy knew exactly where it wanted to be fed: Table 17 on Queen East in Riverside.                

After the great brunch I had my first time there (The Sloppy Giuseppe!  Two fried sunnyside eggs with polenta, bolognese, and greens), I really wanted to go back to try some of their other brunch dishes, especially since I knew how great their variety was in terms of savoury egg breakfasts.  I always tell myself that I’ll get around to trying the French toast and pancake breakfasts, but when I go to places like Table 17, with their rustic, farmers’, local meshed with global atmosphere and menu, I always er on the side of savoury. 

Even though Table 17’s brunch menu isn’t exceptionally large (there are 10 main brunch dishes to choose from), what keeps those of us who thrive on variety coming back is their focus on seasonal ingredients and mixing up their cheeses and vegetables in dishes such as their weekly scramble, which changes every week, and their quiche which also changes on a weekly basis.

I settled on the Neapolitan Eggs with a side of potato rosti and while I do love the Sloppy Giuseppe more between the two, there’s such a brightness and freshness to the Neapolitan Eggs dish with its savoury tomato sauce and greens.  There’s a level of flavour depth in tomato sauce that is just uncomparable to anything else.  Just the thought of a big pot of tomato sauce with a hint of cream and a spattering of fresh herbs makes me feel all warm and fuzzy inside.  Growing up, I was always a fan of the cream sauces like alfredo, white wine, mushroom, and such.  I love them dearly still (spaghetti in white sauce or mushroom sauce will always be a weakness), but tomato sauce has really grown on me and I appreciate its flavour and versatility so much more. 

Neapolitan Eggs (or Eggs in Purgatory) is a classic southern Italian dish, originating in Campania in Naples and while the origins of its alternative name are subject to speculation*, Table 17 does a fabulous job on their menu of integrating these traditional, classic European flavours into their local framework.  Local, seasonal ingredients whenever possible, but globally inspired – that’s the intent and motivation.  Two of Table 17’s brunch dishes tip their hat at classic and traditional Italian favourites, including the Sloppy Giuseppe dish I had my first time and their Neapolitan Eggs.  Neapolitan Eggs can be made in a few different ways – eggs baked in tomato sauce or cracked into the sauce and then simmered – but Table 17 does it poached style. 

The dish ($10), which is also a vegetarian option, consists of two poached eggs in stewed tomatoes and basil on country toast with a green mix salad in olive oil vinaigrette.  My favourite aspects of the dish include the thick, runny yolks of the eggs (the delicious hallmark of an awesome poached egg), the thickness of the egg whites (they tasted so good with the cracked black pepper, oh my goodness), the texture of the tomato sauce (segments of crushed tomatoes strewn throughout tomato sauce juice with sweet onions), and the lightness of the dish as a whole.   

And of course, we can’t forget about the amazing potato rosti on the side!  Table 17 offers several side dishes ($4) in addition to their mains, things like double-smoked bacon, bangers (sausages), frites, and potato rosti.  Made with shredded potatoes and then formed into large patties for pan-frying, potato rostis are a fab alternative to hash browns and homefries.  Their potato rosti side is absolutely fabulous and it is SO DELICIOUSLY GOOD. 

The crispy, crunchy, waffle-like potato pancake came in a half moon pie shape and was cut into four wedges and was accompanied by a dish of sour cream.  It was perfect for dipping (in the sour cream and in my tomato sauce), it was crunchy and crispy on the outside and soft and potatoey on the inside, and it was so good eating mouthfuls of it with the mix of egg white, egg yolk, green salad, and sour cream.  It was brunch heaven in my mouth and it was a wonderful complement to my eggs and tomatoes because it just sopped up all the flavour and provided that tiny bit of fried crunchiness that makes everything extra awesome.

I’m already looking forward to my next brunch here and given how indecisive I am, it wouldn’t hurt for me to start thinking about what I’d love to try next.  I’m thinking of having either the Farmers’ Breakfast or the Weekly Scramble.  With potato rosti again.  Or maybe a side of bangers.  Or maybe I should just flip a coin.   

*****

Source *= Almost Italian.com

Table 17 is located at 782 Queen Street East in the Riverside district of Toronto in the east end.  They are located on the north side of Queen East, east of Broadview Ave. and west of Boulton Ave.  They are open 7 days a week for dinner at 5:30pm and are open for weekend brunch at 10:30am.  Brunch is served until 2:30pm.  Follow them on Twitter @table17, check out their Facebook page here, and their site here.

Polka Dot Rainbow Sprinkles & Fantastical, Fresh, Creamy Vanilla Cupcakes at Desmond & Beatrice, Part II

5 Comments

I love Desmond & Beatrice.  I know there are many cupcake shops that I hold dear to my heart, but Desmond & Beatrice is truly something special.  I didn’t even have to take a bite from my first cupcake to know that this bake shop would shoot straight into my Top 5 favourite cupcakeries.  There is such a pure, genuine, unpretentious quality about D&B that really resonates with me and I know exactly why it does: because of the shop’s aesthetic and the message it sends about sweets and life in general.

Desmond & Beatrice is a beautiful, sweet bake shop bursting with freshness and brightness with its modern, streamlined aesthetic, clean, crisp bright whites (I love the white lacquered finished on the exposed brick), vibrant pops of colour and prints (the scrapbooker and aspiring interior decorator in me hyperventilates), and an immaculate array of picture-perfect frosted cupcakes, jumbo cookies, and sweet-as-pie sqaures and whoopie pies.  Vases of fresh, bright coloured flowers (orange ranunculus!) sit atop the shiny, round tables and soft, squishy cushions in orange, pink, and blue prints dot the sunny window seat at the front of the shop.

And speaking of this cushy window seat, I think D&B is so smart for putting their seating area here.  I know what you’re thinking.  It sounds like it’s common sense, right?  Not necessarily.  A cupcake shop could easily use the window area as a storefront display area or simply not offer seating at all.  The reason why I say this particular facet is smart and savvy is because any and all foot traffic can see people sitting down with their treats.  People had a clear view of me chomping on my cupcake and as such, this makes people curious, and it makes people want to come into the shop even more when they see you enjoying your heavenly dessert.  And people did.  Two families came straight in as soon as I sat down.

The bake shops feels simaltaneously contemporary and homey, paying homage to earlier decades of homemaking and baking with their many framed prints hanging on the walls around the shop.  Even with its clean and crisp, modern feel, it emotes happiness in such an innocent, carefree, kid-friendly way.  There are cute banners, cupcake and baking aprons, pastel colours, party supplies and goodies, stickers, and sweet trinkets in the shop waiting to be purchases and enjoyed by fellow sweets lovers.  And the beautiful cupcakes!  With sprinkles!  It’s like one big, happy kid birthday party.  And this is where I get to the part about why D&B has tugged at my heart strings the way that is has.

Growing up, I never really attended classmates’ and friends’ birthday parties and I never held one of my own.  I had a great childhood with some of the best memories I could hope for, but the birthday parties and the sleepovers and such never made it to my memory books and it’s always been something I’ve felt wistful about.  As such, just being inside the bake shop makes me feel like I’m at a special party, even if it’s just a cupcake party for one.  Desmond & Beatrice is a celebration of all things sweet and good in life and their shops makes you want to indulge a little bit, to remember how much fun it is getting excited over simple things like sprinkles and frosting and baking straight from the heart.

D&B has a rotating selection of cupcakes each and every day, featuring 6 flavours out of the eleventy billion they have.  Okay, so I’m exaggerating a little bit.  They don’t have eleventy billion flavours, but they do, in fact, have over 20 and they are mighty fine, mouthwatering flavours that make my mouth gape open like a foolish gawker.  Flavours such as mint cookies and cream, cookie dough, mint patty, earl grey, vanilla latte, and SO.MUCH.MORE.  On the day I went, they had vanilla on vanilla with sprinkles, chocolate on chocolate, red velvet with cream cheese frosting, coconut with cream cheese frosting, mint patty, and chocolate chocolate chip.

Cupcakes are $2.75 each, $16 for half a dozen, and $29 for one dozen and they are worth every penny.  My love for sprinkles won out and I decided to go simple this time around with the classic vanilla on vanilla.  And it was one of the most magical, wondrous cupcakes I had ever had.  Not just the most fantastical vanilla – but one of the BEST cupcakes EVER.

The vanilla on vanilla at D&B is one of the richest, purest vanillas and it is bang on what a vanilla cupcake should be.  I know some people equate vanilla with blandness and the flavour that doesn’t make waves, but I’m telling you, this cupcake will knock the knickers right off you and make you beg for more.  The cupcake is rich and creamy with soft cake and a river of adorable rainbow polka dot sprinkles trickling down the thick spirals of marshmallow-like frosting.  There is so much to love.

The ratio between cake and frosting is PERFECT (no need to scrape off excessive frosting or moan and groan about peewee dots of frosting on a mountain of bland cake), the vanilla flavour is consistent between frosting and cake (they match each other bite for bite), and it is gorgeous to look at.  The vanilla isn’t too weak, too overwhleming, or artificial and I think the level of sweetness is something that would satisfy everyone and the consistency, thickness, and texture of the frosting is definitely something I think everyone would enjoy.  Desmond & Beatrice have a cute framed print on their wall which reads, “You Are My Cup of Tea” – D&B is my cup of tea and the shop has reeled me as a life-long fan.

*****

Desmond & Beatrice Bake Shop and Cupcakery is located at 750 Queen Street East, just one block east of Broadview Ave. in the Riverside District.  They are open from Tuesday-Sunday (closed Mondays), from 12pm-6pm on Tuesdays and Wednesdays, 11am-7pm on Thursdays and Fridays, 10am-5pm on Saturdays, and 11am-5pm on Sundays.

Sugar & Sprinkles – Cupcakes, Baked Treats, and The Sweet Things in Life at Desmond & Beatrice, Part I

3 Comments

Good evening ladies and gentlemen, and welcome to Ate by Ate’s first tribute to what I call, “The Introduction to Cupcake Central in Toronto”, also known as Queen Street East.  Oh yes, there is a cupcake district in Toronto.  There are 7, count ’em, SEVEN spots to stuff our faces with cupcakes on Queen Street East: Desmond & Beatrice, Bobbette & Belle, It’s the Icing on the Cake!, Sweet Bliss Baking Company, Altitude Baking, Yoshi’s Sweets, and Life is Sweet.  And I am going to sweep my way through them if it’s the last thing I do!  Even though I’ve known about the magical land of cupcakes that is Queen Street East for what feels like forever, it has taken me months (well, actually, who am I kidding – it’s taken me over a year) to get my sweet teeth to the concentrated district of frosting and sprinkles and while I wished my fairy wings had landed here sooner, this first cupcake experience at Desmond & Beatrice was well worth the wait. 

I have been on Queen Street East – in the Beaches, in Leslieville, in Riverside – numerous times, but cupcakes have always evaded me for one reason or another.  I ate a cupcake somewhere else earlier in the day.  I was too full from brunch or lunch.  I opted for a shortbread cookie and macaron from Bobbette & Belle during my first Christmas visit to the classy sweets boutique.  Blah blah blah.  Two weeks ago, I made it my mission to get myself a cupcake from Queen Street East, specifically from Desmond & Beatrice, and to enjoy every sweet cake crumb morsel and lick of frosting.  NO MORE EXCUSES.  And so begins our sweet and delicious journey on Queen Street East.  This is the photo spotlight Part I post of II – enjoy the photos!   

*****

Desmond & Beatrice Bake Shop and Cupcakery is located at 750 Queen Street East, just one block east of Broadview Ave. in the Riverside District.  They are open from Tuesday-Sunday (closed Mondays), from 12pm-6pm on Tuesdays and Wednesdays, 11am-7pm on Thursdays and Fridays, 10am-5pm on Saturdays, and 11am-5pm on Sundays.

Table for Two at Table 17 – Sunny Fried Eggs, Polenta, Bolognese, and The Sloppy Giuseppe Brunch!

1 Comment

If I asked you what you loved most about your favourite restaurant or what you loved best about a relaxing meal out, how would you answer that?  Maybe you love the variedness of the menu, the relaxing atmosphere, the decor, the hustle and bustle, or being immersed in a dining room full of people abuzz with excitement over their meals and their weekend plans, soaking in the energy.  Or maybe you just love it because the food is delicious and being out and about gives you the opportunity to sit back and enjoy life with a glass of wine.  At Table 17, located on Queen Street East in Riverside, you can enjoy every single one of those qualities while savouring weekend brunch by day and wine and bistro dishes by night. 

While the term bistro is often associated with French cuisine and classic French cafe fare, Table 17’s menu isn’t exclusively devoted to French food.  Table 17 is a wine bar and bistro with a menu that seeks its inspiration from European flavours and techniques such as Italian and British in addition to French, and integrating these influences with North American fare and local ingredients.

Table 17 is the type of restaurant that does dichotomy incredibly well – with their atmosphere and with their menu.  When you eat here, you simaltaneously feel like you’re in a sleek and modern dining establishment and a relaxing country barn kitchen.  It’s contemporary mixed with warm, rustic country chic with its black restaurant front and chairs, and brassy chandeliers that cast a warm glow in the restaurant.  Their dining area is divided into two, where one feels more communal and intimate and the other with a more open and airy vibe with big windows, adjacent from the wine bar. 

Their menu is the perfect mix of local and global: Ontario beef, Ontario cheddar, brie, and mozzarella, and Québécois creton juxtaposed with British scotch eggs, French pain doré, bistro classic steak frites, and Sicilian arancino rice balls.  Some of their dishes have more obvious and transparent European aspects while others, such as the wonderful brunch dish I had, are much more nuanced and subtle.

While their dinner menu is still waiting for me, I finally got the chance to relish in my long-awaited wonderful weekend brunch here and after a fabulous meal, I fully intend to go on a whirlwind brunch tour cycling through the entire brunch menu!  Most of Table 17’s brunch prices come in at $10 with a few breakfasts ringing in at $12.  The brunch menu offers both brunch mains and individual sides, along with drink specials including mimosas, caesars, and more. 

While Table 17’s brunch menu is incredibly varied, the menu itself isn’t sloppy.  The whole menu is made cohesive with a common theme and thread stringing many of the dishes together: eggs!  They do brunch justice by offering all different types of dishes with both North American and European  ingredients and flavours: poached neapolitan eggs, farmer’s breakfast with scotch eggs, weekly egg scramble accompanied with seasonal ingredients, grilled cuban sandwich, nicoise breakfast of Italian tuna, boiled eggs, and nicoise olives, and my pick, The Sloppy Giuseppe!

The Sloppy Giuseppe is a dish comprised of 2 fried eggs served overtop Bolognese sauce and friend polenta alongside a green salad.  Have I ever professed my love of eggs?  If I haven’t, I will now: I love eggs.  So much.  While I often err on the side of overeasy, there is just nothing like fried eggs with their beautiful bright sunny yolks, bubbly egg whites, and groan-inducing crispy edges.  Weekend brunch is made sunnier with beauitful eggs like these.  My eggs were sprinkled with chives and cracked black pepper and they daintily sat atop wedges of fried polenta and traditional Bolognese sauce (absolutely no tomato in this) alongside a bright, fresh, crisp green salad of arugula and red leaf lettuce. 

The polenta and Bolognese were delightful.  The exterior of the polenta was golden and crispy and inside was a creamy smooth mixture of cornmeal that meshed deliciously with the ground beef Bolognese.  The ground beef was wonderful because it wasn’t ground to the point where it was mush, but it still had that distinctive ground meat texture.  The dish was incredibly savoury in the best way possible.  The yolks from the eggs paired easily with the creaminess of the polenta while the salad lended a brightness and crispness that cut through the fun greasy spoon style dish.

The Sloppy Giuseppe is the perfect example of how Table 17 executes the juxtaposition of North American and European.  I can’t help but marvel at the cleverness and creativity of the dish, not only in composition but also in name.  If we break it down, you see exactly how Italian and American are fused together into this one dish: the name Giuseppe is the Italian name for Joseph, Bolognese sauce is a traditional Italian pasta sauce originating in Bologna, and the Bolognese itself is a play on an American classic, the ground beef sloppy joe.  I don’t know if anyone else finds the complexity and nuances as fascinating, but I just love it.  I loved the dish, I adore their brunch menu, and the atmosphere is wonderful.  Judging by the hustle and bustle of the crowds, I know I’m not the only one who feels this way.  

*****

Table 17 is located at 782 Queen Street East in the Riverside district of Toronto in the east end.  They are located on the north side of Queen East, east of Broadview Ave. and west of Boulton Ave.  They are open 7 days a week for dinner at 5:30pm and are open for weekend brunch at 10:30am.  Brunch is served until 2:30pm.  Follow them on Twitter @table17, check out their Facebook page here, and their site here.