Not to sound shallow, but I knew the moment I set eyes on Fantail Bakery-Cafe that I would love it. I mean, any bakery that lets you know the exact moment you can get their baked goods fresh out of the oven gets me on a deep level.
On a sunny day in September, I walked into its bright shop in sleepy Roncesvalles, immediately taking note of an eccentric poem printed in gold lettering on one of its blue-and-gold filigreed walls entitled “Piiwakawaka.” (A Google search will later inform me that “piwakawaka” is the Maori word for the pied fantail, a bird native to New Zealand, the home country of Fantail’s owners. No explanation yet, however, for the extra “i” in the poem’s spelling.)
Since my main goal in Toronto was to find the best croissants in the city, I waltzed up to the counter, and upon seeing only chocolate croissants, asked, “Do you have any regular croissants?”
“No,” replied the barista. “We only have irregular croissants.” Hey, I like a sassy barista.
After mulling around the counter area for a few seconds, I asked him if there was anything I absolutely must try while I was there.
“Well, there’s nothing you must try,” he quipped. “You’re free to try whatever you want.” Touché.
After some help from his not-so-sassy colleague, I settled on the Innocent Muffin (“People rave about it,” said the non-sassy colleague). Amazingly, it’s made with no sugar, gluten, OR dairy. And I am nothing if not a sucker for desserts parading around as healthy foods.
I slid into a white chair at the bar seating along the window to wait for my fare. When they set the muffin and latte in front of me my eyes nearly popped out of my head because THIS WAS THE PERFECT INSTAGRAM SHOT.
Coffee and Baked Goods
Picture-perfect plating aside, let’s get to the food.
The Innocent Muffin was like a treasure hunt for healthy things—a blueberry here, a carrot shred there, and coconut flakes in every dense bite!
Now, I would like to raise an issue with the “no sugar” label, as the dried coconut and blueberry bits obviously had added sugar, but I am assuming they mean they don’t add sugar to the actual mix. Fair enough.
Fantail Bakery Ambience
Ornate wallpaper. Abstract poetry. Dairy-gluten-and-sugar-free pastries. Fantail Bakery- Cafe had all the trappings of a pretentious, hipster coffee shop. But what surprised me was the amount of families lazing the day away in there. A mother and daughter. New moms with their kids. The barista even knew the name of one of the little ones and commented on how much he’d grown.
The only drawback? No Wi-Fi. *GASP* **Update 2019: Fantail Bakery now has Wi-Fi!**
On second thought, maybe that’s an advantage. Fantail just may be the spot to pull up a chair, take out a book, and relax.
The Mystery of the Cinnful Bun
After stalking Fantail Bakery on the Internet, I learned of a clever creation dubbed “the cinnful bun,” a cinnamon bun-croissant hybrid. I, being a fine purveyor of hybrid foods, of course sought to obtain this creation at once! However, my efforts were thwarted. I kid you not, I walked into Fantail Bakery almost every day for three weeks demanding a cinnful bun, but they never had one.
To make matters worse, the sassy barista taunted me about it.
“Aw yeah, the cinnful bun is probably the best thing we make…but we don’t have any today.” Nor any day, apparently.
Secret: Fantail Bakery Has the BEST (Cheddar) Croissants
BUT there is good news because on my subsequent visits to Fantail Bakery I discovered something never mentioned in online reviews: Fantail Bakery has the best croissants in Toronto! Okay, they have the best cheddar croissants, at least. Seriously. Biting into it resulted in a satisfying crunch that sent flakes flying, while the inside was soft and chewy with a sheen on the dough from all the butter baked inside it. The creaminess of the butter paired with the sharpness of the cheddar was a perfect combination.
So, if you ever find yourself in Fantail Bakery, ask first for the cinnful bun. And when they don’t have it, grab a cheddar croissant (or if you’re feeling superficially healthy, the Innocent Muffin) and a latte, and soak in the charming decor at Fantail Bakery- Cafe.
The Wherever Writer’s Rating for Fantail Bakery-Cafe in Toronto:
Coffee: 4/5 I only ever ordered the almond milk latte. It was pretty good! You know how baristas have a hard time getting the foam just right with almond milk (hey, “milk” made from almonds lacks the fat that makes it easy to froth)? Well, sassy barista at Fantail Bakery did a darn good job.
Croissant: 5/5 (can vouch only for the cheddar croissant though)
Other food available: I think Fantail’s strong point is its baked goods (it’s more bakery than coffee shop), and you’ll find a huge selection of creative pastries that changes daily: Cinnamon brioche, roasted banana bread, and poached pear and chai scones made an appearance on my first visit. They also sell lunch foods like salads and sandwiches.
Would I recommend it? HECK YES! One of my favorite coffee shops in Toronto. Definitely go there for Instagram photo shoots, catching up with an old friend, reading a book, or working on your next novel.
333 Roncesvalles Ave
Toronto, ON M6R 2M8, Canada