Just Opened: Nadège Patisserie

Just Opened: Nadège Patisserie

Great white hope: Nadège brings Paris's cool minimalism to Queen West  

Back in 2008, a for lease sign went up in the window of Trinity Bellwoods’ Art Photo Studio, making some West Queen Westers a little nervous. Would the prime location price out all the little guys? Apparently not. This spring, the studio’s decidedly dated green tiles were replaced by a white exterior and bright sign announcing the arrival of Nadège Patisserie—a high-end bakery and café that opened in early July.

It takes macaroons of steel to open a business in Toronto (let alone a bakery on the same strip as Dufflet and Clafouti). For her new eponymous shop, Nadège Nourian makes something much better: macaroons that melt in the mouth, with flavours like cappuccino, blackberry-chocolate and wasabi-grapefruit ($2 each or 12 for $20). Now in development: gin and tonic marshmallows.

N is for marshmallow (Photo by Catherine Hayday) 

When Nourian came here from Paris, she was warned that Toronto is a conservative market; if she was going to open a French patisserie, she’d better be prepared to put Edith Piaf on repeat and bulk buy wicker baskets. But Nourian didn’t want her shop to be a café-by-numbers, rather she wants to bring the latest Parisian trends to Toronto. There are obstacles aplenty: Canadian butter is too watery; Toronto’s humidity messes with the recipes; the city’s patio permit infrastructure is not for the weak-of-heart.

Of great import: Nadège ships the coffee in from France (Photo by Catherine Hayday) 

Pure determination has allowed Nadège to clear most hurdles (watch for a park-side patio in 2010). She wanted a refrigerated vitrine like they have in Paris, so she tracked down a European in the U.S. to make one for her. She wanted to serve (and sell) Cafés Richard coffee—absolutely no drip—so she has it shipped in from France via Montreal. Her front-of-house manager and partner Morgan McHugh gutted the Art Photo Studio, and the patisserie opened on schedule, four months after the work began.

The result is contemporary Parisian: crisp minimalism acts as the backdrop to colourful cakes (starting at $6.25 per slice) that are treated as small works of art. “If I had to make chocolate and vanilla for the rest of my life,” says Nourian, “I wouldn’t do it at all.”

Nadège, 780 Queen St. W., 416-368-2009, nadege-patisserie.com.