Up until recently, Vancouver’s dessert scene was pretty barren. Luckily a few fantastic bakeries have popped up, with some top notch pastry chefs at the helm. My two favourites are Thomas Haas and Thierry. Both make chocolates, pastries, macarons and desserts that make the occasional cheat somehow more easily justifiable. Don’t worry, I haven’t gone off the deep end, I only indulge in gluten free treats, which both luckily offer.
Thierry Chocolate Patisserie Café is located in downtown Vancouver on Alberni Street. French-born Chef Thierry was previously the pastry chef at two three-star Michelin restaurants in London. Former colleague Chef Gordon Ramsay has called him “one of the finest pastry chefs in the world.” Locally, Chef Thierry led the pastry programs at CinCin and West (both of which have incredible desserts).
Up until recently, the only gluten-free options were the chocolate trio (white, milk and dark chocolate mousse + chocolate sponge), where the sponge is made of almond flour, and the macarons. But, to my delight, the other day I learned they have a new offering, the “chocolate caramel cadeau” (dark chocolate mousse + caramel mousse + chocolate sponge). The cadeau was lovely – all wrapped up in dark chocolate, with airy mousse layers. I think I still prefer the chocolate trio, although honestly they tasted very similar. I wish that both the trio and the cadeau were a little less sweet. Oh, and for the record, the chocolate trio contains a small amount of cornstarch, just FYI (I’m assuming the cadeau does, also).
My friend very much enjoyed the apricot danish (man I used to love those pre-paleo!). And their hot chocolate is divine – I love the foamy texture.
And, oh my, the macarons. So, I’m conflicted by these. While eating them, I was blown away. They tasted nothing like macarons I’ve had in the past. I loved the creamy, flavorful buttercream filling. I enjoyed the dense chewiness – when I cut one in half, it didn’t crumble or squish, it kept it’s shape. I like how big and substantial they were. Simply put, I was smitten by these macarons.
My friend and I tried the coffee, chocolate/pistachio, and vanilla. My favourite was the coffee, followed by the vanilla – I didn’t think the pistachio tasted enough like pistachio. So what’s the problem? Well, after giving it some thought, I don’t know how authentic they were. I loved them for what they were: dense, chewy, flavorful cookies. But were they macaron-like enough? I think macarons are supposed to be more airy. And ganache fillings are typically favoured to buttercream, from what I understand. They were also imperfect, not uniform in size. So… honestly, I really liked them (although like the other desserts, they could’ve been a little less sweet). But I guess my disclaimer is, if it’s a classic macaron you’re after, these might not be it. Oh, and stay away from the fruit ones, which apparently contain artificial dyes. None of the non-fruit ones I bought seemed to have this issue. But really, artificial food colouring?! It’s 2012 and we’re in Vancouver, c’mon.
I really like Thierry. I keep comparing it to Thomas Haas, since they’re quite similar. Having tried Haas’ pastries pre-paleo, and checking out the selection of each shop, I would deem Thomas Haas to be the winner. Although still very enjoyable, I do find Thierry’s desserts too much on the sweet side – I think there’s room to tone down the sugar. But Thierry does get bonus points for offering two gluten-free desserts, incredible hot chocolate, having a liquor license, and their great downtown location. I’ll definitely be back – but hopefully not too soon.