CC Violin is the latest pastry shop to open up in the Vancouver area – West Vancouver to be exact. And of course, I was quite curious to try it. Especially after I heard that its pastry chef is Brett McDonald, formerly of West, Cioppino’s and the Wickanninish Inn. I’ve had some very memorable desserts at West, so expectations were high.
The interior of this Café is chic – fitting very nicely into the Ambleside neighbourhood. The only thing I didn’t like about the space was that their display cabinets were quite low compared to other dessert shops, which made reading the descriptions more difficult. CC Violin sells pastries, chocolates, desserts, macarons, lunch items, and coffee.
Right away, the Green Apple mousse cake stood out. It looked just like, you guessed it, an actual green apple. However, I immediately zeroed in on the two gluten-free options: the Sophia (a chocolate mousse cake) and the Noiselle (a hazelnut mousse).
Both desserts were very tasty. I especially liked the Sophia, which I expected to be dense due to the chocolate, but it was surprisingly light and airy, with some unexpected crunch inside. It wasn’t overly sweet, and it was covered in a nice chocolate glaze with a sparkly/glitter sheen (which looked pretty, but made me ponder the ingredients). The Noiselle (below*) tasted just like hazelnuts – which is a good thing. It was also very light in texture, and there was some sort of wafer/cake inside.
Compared to my favourite dessert shop, Thomas Haas, the refinement was there in terms of taste, but the presentation wasn’t as impressive, and frankly, it looked a little “off” in terms of the way it was finished. And Thomas Haas would still win in terms of depth and complexity of flavor. But the fact that I’m even drawing comparisons shows you that it’s definitely a high quality dessert.
I wish I could say the same about the rest of the stuff I tried. The truffles were awful. That’s not an exaggeration. My friend and I tried the passion fruit and espresso. They were both extremely sweet, and tasted sort of artificial. The passion fruit tasted like a sugary paste, not like passion fruit at all (which is a shame because passion fruit is one of my favourite flavors). And the espresso tasted like raw coffee beans. Both truffles tasted “funky”, and not in a good way.
And of course to really review this shop, I had to try the macarons. I chose the lemon mint and strawberry vanilla. Although quite honestly, I didn’t even want to try them based on how they looked in the display case. They were lopsided, uneven, and the filling to shell ratio was off. The flavor I didn’t get, lime, was completely flat, like two discs. The flavor of the lemon mint was okay – it tasted minty and wasn’t cloyingly sweet. But as you can tell in the picture, it completely crumbled when cut in half, which combined with it not tasting fresh makes me wonder if it was stale? The texture was way off. The strawberry vanilla one didn’t taste anything like vanilla or strawberry, and there was practically no filling.
I guess dessert shops feel obligated to make macarons, since they’re so hot right now. I think they’d be better off focusing on what they do best, rather than diluting their brand with subpar products. Those were some sad-looking and lousy tasting macarons. And the truffles were pretty much unpalatable. I’m glad that I ate the desserts first.
So, I’d say if you want to check it out, stick with the desserts. As I mentioned previously, they also sell pastries and lunch items. Even though I quite enjoyed the desserts, I was expecting a better experience overall.
*The Noiselle has a smudge of chocolate from the Sophia on it (here’s what the Sophia looks like). Long story.