Tucked away on de Lanaudière, just south of Laurier, is a little gem by the name of Pâtisserie Rhubarbe. Opened in 2010 by pastry chef Stéphanie Labelle, this modest space houses an authentic pâtisserie, as well as a 12-seat dining area, where brunch is served on Sundays.
When we arrive at noon, the place is already packed to the gills, patrons spilling out onto the sidewalk, chatting as they wait for a table to free up. People pop in and out from time to time, boxes of pastries in hand. The place bustles along at a steady pace, without detracting from the warm, relaxed atmosphere.
When it’s our turn to be seated, we’re led to the little wooden bar facing the kitchen– by far the best seat in the house if you’re eating solo, as you get to watch the kitchen action unfold. Perusing the menu, I catch a glimpse of a staff member pitting and slicing a batch of ruby-red plums. The deep colour of those plums is like nothing I’ve ever seen, reminding me that Rhubarbe is serious about its ingredients, each selected with the utmost care, with provenance and seasonality in mind. Unlike a lot of breakfast hot-spots in the city, you will not be served, say, blueberries in January. At this time of year, Rhubarbe is channelling fall flavours, including squash, apple, caramel, hazelnuts and, of course, those gorgeous, gorgeous plums.
While Stéphanie takes care of the sweet side of Rhubarbe, her partner Julien Joré is in charge of the savoury, concocting an inspired collection of brunch dishes ranging from oeuf en cocotte to pistachio waffles. The menu is simple and refreshingly uncomplicated– there are typically four to five mains, each served with a choice of espresso, latte, tea or freshly squeezed orange juice, a home-made scone and dessert (why not!). On this particular day, they also had a sparkling wine with blackberry syrup on offer– it sounded fantastic, but since one might have easily lead to two on this lazy Sunday, I behaved myself and ordered the latte instead.
The latte was served alongside a buttery scone, which pulled apart easily to reveal a fluffy interior studded with green chive and crispy bits of cheese. A very welcoming introduction to breakfast, to say the least.
For the main, we chose the layered tartine, a large slice of toasted bread with a thin layer of ricotta, topped with prosciutto, sliced pear, pickled onion, two poached eggs, chestnuts and lambs lettuce. It was a perfect mix of flavours and textures– salty, earthy and sweet, crispy and soft. As a main, it was light, but satisfying.
Stéphanie swooped by a little later with dessert– a beautiful little tower of sweetness crowned with a few thin slices of pear. This étagé poire/noisette, an artful arrangement of pastry, chocolate-hazelnut crunch and pear mousse, was delicate and not too sweet. It was also absurdly delicious. Despite my best efforts to savour it slowly, I’m not ashamed to admit that I inhaled it in 10 seconds flat.
Needless to say, brunch at Pâtisserie Rhubarbe is a fantastic detour from the ordinary. Like the owners themselves, the food is sincere and smart, and their menu offers a nice alternative to the heavy, meat-loaded breakfasts you find elsewhere in the city. Make a point of checking it out for your next Sunday brunch date.
…and don’t forget to grab one of those incredible pastries of the way out!