For those visiting Bonne Journée, Tunisian ex-pat Hitchem Charfi’s new French bakery on Queen Street East, it helps to know that from 1869 to 1956, Tunisia was a French protectorate. Hence the unique—in Toronto at least—combination of French baked goods with a short menu of sandwiches concealing North African spicing and flavours (think: ham and cheese croissants with harissa mayo). Charfi grew up in Sfax, on the Tunisian coast, and came to Toronto at the age of 18. After a less than happy stint as a credit analyst for Amex—“the day I left was one of the happiest days of my life”—he headed off to France to stage for his cousins who own bakeries in Paris and learn the trade.
Open since early October, Bonne Journée took over a space formerly occupied by a Christmas shop. Between the soft grey exposed brick walls and original leaded glass windows, the place is tiny: there’s only room enough for four seats and a small oven, which means that Charfi is constantly baking small batches of his breads, pastries and quiches, all day long (the shop has received a very strong response from the neighbourhood, which isn’t quite Leslieville and isn’t quite the Beach). The selection includes baguettes ($2.50) and multigrain loaves ($4), as well as sweeter things like éclairs ($3.25), cream puffs ($3.25) and mille feuilles ($3.25). Charfi’s wife, Emily Boivin (a transplanted Montrealer), heads up front of house, and also makes her speciality, veal terrine, which Charfi slips between slices of freshly baked baguette ($4.75/$7.75). Charfi plans on producing about 12 pastries and six breads every day, and soon, will be adding a tiny Tunisian mini-mart of specialty grocery items.
Bonne Journée, 1576 Queen St. E., 647-686-2911