Vancouver is fortunate to have some great dessert options like my favourites, Thierry, Soirette, and Bella Gelateria – all of them with delicious gluten-free offerings. My absolute favourite though is the shop of award-winning Thomas Haas, a fourth generation pastry chef. Thomas Haas Fine Chocolates & Patisserie is the one that I compare all the other bakeries to, and thus far, no one in Vancouver has him beat. His first location in North Vancouver was always so popular that it was difficult to get a seat (it didn’t help matters that it was a small shop). He has now branched out to a second location in Vancouver, which is larger, but even more busy. It’s downright crowded in there, with constant line-ups. It really is a testament to how good his stuff is. I think the best part about his desserts is that they aren’t overly sweet. A lot of dessert shops cover up lack of finesse with extra sugar – that is not the case at Thomas Haas. The flavors are balanced and pronounced, and the textures are intricate and interesting. And the presentation is always phenomenal.
My friend and I tried both the White Chocolate Kalamansi Cake and the Caramel & Brownie Cake. The kalamansi flavour of the first cake was incredible. And the dessert was very light and fluffy. It was a joy to eat.
The Caramel & Brownie cake was also very good, with several layers inside. It was a lot lighter than you’d expect considering it’s caramel and brownie. But I still prefer the fruit-flavoured desserts. I had previously had the Fresh Raspberry Cake which is probably my favourite out of the three, and the crème brulee is also very tasty.
They also sell fantastic “sparkle cookies” that are made with almond flour (below). Pre-paleo, I had tried their double-baked almond croissants (phenomenal) as well as their other non-gluten free desserts and tarts – not one miss.
I also had to finally try the macarons which I’ve heard so much about. They did not disappoint, and I could easily see how these could be considered the best in town. The best way I could describe them would be to say they’re somewhere in-between those of Soirette and Thierry. They have a little bit of the chewiness that I love from Thierry, and the flavors are just as strong, but the texture is a little lighter and delicate, more in the direction of Soirette’s. I was surprised however, that the macarons weren’t very uniform – the shapes and sizes were different – I expected more consistency. Thus far, I think Soirette’s has done the best job with this. Also, I have heard that Thomas Haas uses artificial dyes, which makes sense when you look at the intensity of the coloring – I find that pretty unacceptable (ditto Thierry). But in terms of the actual macaron, they were very good. My friend and I tried the coffee, pistachio, strawberry/vanilla, passion fruit, peach/vanilla and chocolate. Unsurprisingly, I liked the passion fruit the best. They came prettily wrapped with a red bow in a clear box. The presentation was lovely, but the box was too big for the standard 6 macarons, and could’ve benefitted from a little tray for each of the macarons to sit separately (like Soirette’s).
Chocolates & Coffee
Thomas Haas is also known for his chocolates, of which they sell an assortment. They’re all delicious, and very flavorful. You can find their chocolates and chocolate bars at Urban Fare as well. And if you’re a coffee drinker, the mocha is highly recommended – it’s bitter in a good way.
Overall, Thomas Haas is a real treat. They have everything you could want in a bakery: a huge assortment of intricate desserts, pastries, chocolates, and macarons. Their hot chocolates and coffees match the standard of their desserts. And they even have some lunch (sandwich) options. Service is friendly and efficient. The ambiance is high-energy and bustling. Luckily for us, Thomas Haas has set the bar high. It’s the first place I’d recommend to anyone who is looking for a high caliber bakery/dessert shop.