Giovane Cafe + Bakery + Deli

Restaurant: Giovane Cafe + Bakery + Deli
Cuisine: Bakery/Cafe/Sandwiches/Deli/Italian/Desserts
Last visited: February 10, 2011
Location: Vancouver, BC (Downtown)
Address: 1038 Canada Place (Inside Fairmont Pacific Rim)
Price Range: $10 or less (closer to $10+)

1: Poor 2: OK 3: Good 4: Very good 5: Excellent 6: Tres Excellent!!

Food: 5 (based on few items I tried)
Service: n/a
Ambiance: 4
Overall: n/a
Additional comments:

  • Italian gourmet cafe/deli
  • Upscale & modern cafe
  • On site bakery
  • Baked daily goods
  • Baked in house bread/pies/pastries
  • Popular for cakes/pastries
  • Famous for “Sugar Buns”
  • Thin crust Italian pizza
  • Gourmet paninis
  • Whole cakes available
  • Catering available
  • Eat in/Take-out/Delivery
  • Breakfast 6am-11am
  • Daily 6am-7pm

**Recommendations: Sugar Bun, Peanut Butter Hedgehog

Happy Birthday to Me… err I mean Giovane Cafe! Now let’s celebrate by me having three slices of cake!

Valentine’s Day is quickly approaching. In order to write my Valentine’s Day posts I had to increase my sugar intake x100 this week to report back with the goods. I recently posted on the Gelato Macaronwich, my indulgence in 18 chocolates & 3 handmade caramels in 30 minutes from Chocolaterie de la Nouvelle France, and now it’s time for 3 cakes in 30 minutes.

Giovane Cafe + Bakery + Deli is an Italian cafe offering made in house thin crust pizzas, paninis, soups and salads. However what they’re most known for is perhaps their baked goods, desserts and cakes. With an on site bakery, there are also freshly baked breads, muffins, scones, cookies, rolls, croissants, pies, tarts and cakes, that are made for my… or I mean our pleasure.

I pass by Giovane (pronounced Joe-van-nay) all the time on my way to Bella Gelateria (Vancouver’s best gelato next door), but I have never actually stopped to go inside. My friend has brought me their famous Sugar Buns and popular Peanut Butter Hedgehog Cake to try before, but I hadn’t explored beyond those. Although located in the Fairmont Pacific Rim hotel, I can say it’s not a tourist trap. Giovane Cafe is known to locals in the area and the only thing “touristy” about it is perhaps the prices; however being located in downtown’s business district, it’s expected. Although it is a pricey cafe, the quality of ingredients and labour that go into their baked goods and cakes (the only things I’ve tried, so it’s the only things I can comment on) don’t go unnoticed.

Obviously the display case featuring the cakes is what caught my eye first.

Yesterday was Giovane Cafe’s 1st birthday and I was invited to the “tweet up” celebration with complimentary sugar buns, scones and coffee to all who attended. I showed up at the tail end of the party and unfortunately they were out of Sugar Buns, totally my fault for showing up late. I blame traffic! However the staff felt bad that I had driven so far and graciously offered me cake to go. Then it was my turn to feel bad… and the only way to feel better was to have a piece, or 3 pieces of cake! πŸ˜‰ Jokes aside, I was expecting to pay for the 2 extra cakes, but they were provided complimentary, which was very generous of them. Nonetheless I will still approach the post as if I were a paying customer and my opinions are always honest.

Honestly, Vancouver does not impress me too much when it comes to pastries and cakes. Besides Thomas Haas, Ganache Patisserie, Kreation Artisan Cake and a couple other pastry chef’s at restaurants, I find the love for sugar… only felt by me. No I’m kidding, but for a big city like Vancouver, I just expect much more. After trying Giovane Cafe, my favourite bakery is still Thomas Haas, when it comes to creating innovative desserts made with French techniques (see my post here). However, Giovane Cafe did not fail to impress. In fact, I was very impressed. All the bakeries I mentioned above are very similar in style offering creative European style artisan cakes with West Coast flavours and twists. From what I tried at Giovane, it definitely goes on my list of one of the must try bakeries in the city. They have a strong team of four pastry chefs, and with an on site bakery, it’s simply a sign of sweet success.

On the table:

Mini Emerald Green Apple, Caramel Almond – 5/6

  • $7
  • I really love the use of apples in desserts, so naturally this caught my eye first.
  • Oh god… it tasted like a caramel apple pie in cake form. It was amazing.
  • If you like apple pie, imagine eating it with some green apple mousse and a little sponge cake, some almonds and custard. Freaking drool.
  • I think there was as vanilla bean glaze over top the mousse, but the vanilla flavour didn’t come through. There’s also no heavy cinnamon flavours, and it didn’t need it.
  • There is no chocolate in it either, that was only the decorative plastic around it.

  • It’s a perfect balance of tart and sweet and there are pieces of semi crunchy Granny Smith apples throughout the green apple mousse.
  • The green apple mousse was almost like a very wet sponge cake meets mousse and it was nice and tangy with perhaps some added lemon. It reminded me of a lemon apple tart in a way.
  • It’s all very moist and creamy and I loved that the bottom of the cake was a nutty almond cake-crust layered with caramel coated slivered almonds on top. The crust wasn’t as crunchy as a pie crust or tart, but it wasn’t as soft as a sponge cake either.
  • It was a fresh idea to caramelize the almonds and not the apples for once. It was smart too because biting into the almonds made you think they were apples.
  • I loved the subtle difference in crunchy textures from the apples and the almonds, and the balance of cake to mousse was perfect.
  • I think there was a layer of caramel custard in between, but I’m not sure.
  • It wasn’t too sweet and it still had the lightness of sponge cake and the tart apples to offset the sweetness of the caramel.

**Peanut Butter Hedgehog – 5.5/6

  • $7 slice (Whole cake $34-39)
  • This is Giovane’s most popular cake. It has been the most popular since Giovane Cafe opened a year ago.
  • I tried it a year ago and I still remember the joy it brought me then, I was more than happy to experience it again!
  • Peanut butter lovers will foodgasm, and peanut butter haters will make this the exception. For the peanut allergy-ers… I feel bad for you son.
  • I used to be one of those “oh I’m not a huge fan of peanut butter desserts, but I’ll still eat them” kind of persons, but the tables have turned… and this was one of the convincing factors, along with Butter Bakery‘s massive Peanut Butter Cookie – see here.
  • I wouldn’t know if I would call it a “Hedgehog” because I couldn’t taste any hazelnuts, but I think it’s called that for the shape, and not to any reference of the Purdy’s chocolate “Hedgehogs”.

  • It’s a pretty large slice and definitely best shared. Sharing it will leave you with that perfect feeling of “wanting more”.
  • This is a super rich and indulgent cake, but it’s incredibly addicting.
  • It tastes just like a Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup, but in mousse form, with a bit of chocolate cake and high quality chocolate.
  • Even if you hate Reese’s, I feel like you’d like this. The texture and execution is mastered to perfection.
  • It’s ultra creamy with a peanut butter mousse and a bittersweet chocolate mousse. Even if you don’t like mousse, you’ll like this. The reason is because the mousse doesn’t taste really like mousse. It’s very thick and creamy and it’s a cross between a mousse and a custard.
  • Mousse just tastes different at Giovane. It’s richer, buttery in flavour, but not greasy. It’s not as airy, but nice and creamy and the quality of ingredients are superb.
  • This Hedgehog cake just melts in your mouth and has that stick to your throat sweetness, but as sweet as it is, it’s balanced with savoury peanut butter, so it works.
  • As thick and creamy as it is too, it melts very quickly and almost liquefies in your mouth. However the chocolate shell at the very bottom and around the edges give it a slight crunch similar to the Reece’s Peanut Butter Cup.
  • I loved the addition of moist chocolate cake as well and that wasn’t all to sweet either.
  • **Follow Me Foodie Tasty Twist: Freeze this cake, and eat it half way before it becomes frozen. You’ll thank me later πŸ˜‰

Mini Ganache Chocolate, Raspberry Bavarian Cream – 4.5/6

  • $7
  • I think this is a Valentine’s Day special, but I’m not sure. I know it’s one of their most popular cakes and house favourites right now.
  • I’m not a huge fan of raspberry and chocolate, but I don’t mind it either. For what it was, it was excellent, but if your not a fan of chocolate and raspberry, I’m not sure if this cake would convince you otherwise.
  • It has a very potent raspberry flavour, but there’s also some cake and a nutty crust to make it more dynamic and not your standard “chocolate dome with raspberry” dessert.

  • It was beautifully assembled and well layered with a lot of textures, however the most apparent was the creamy mousse texture.
  • It was quite sweet with dark and bittersweet chocolate, but the raspberry gelΓ©e helped to offset the sweetness. It was very concentrated and made with fresh raspberries and it had a ton of flavour and I actually would have liked to have a bit more of it.
  • The very bottom layer was a nutty almond crust made with coarsely ground almonds, but it was over shadowed by the chocolate flavours and it was a bit wasted. I could feel its texture, but I would have loved to have the flavour come out more.
  • The Bavarian cream was also quite overpowered. It was quite dense and I couldn’t taste that layer so having it in the name kind of set me up for disappointment.
  • The chocolate ganache was still very creamy and almost like mousse rather than a traditional chocolate truffle ganache, which I find can get too sweet and rich.
  • The cake was almost like a brownie cake and it was a bit denser than a sponge cake. There was a great ratio of cake to ganache which I was very pleased about because too much ganache can get sickening.
  • I can see that they tried to do a lot of things here to make it different, but those intricate details didn’t play a prominent enough of a role for me.

**Sugar Bun – 6/6

  • A Giovane signature – sugared sweet bun filled with vanilla pastry cream $4
  • They ran out when I arrived, but I really wanted to get a photo of one for this post. I saw somebody’s sitting at a table so I went to go take a photo. The owner of it ran back to the table and was so scared I was going to eat it. LOL! Maybe if the jacket wasn’t there I would have taken it, but obviously I knew it had an owner.
  • These are possibly the most amazing “doughnut” like buns you’ll ever have. It’s a super light, soft, and ultra fluffy buttery brioche bun coated with sugar. It mimics being deep fried, but it’s not.
  • Your teeth just sink into this pillowy ball of fluffy soft bun, while your lips coat in sugar, and then out oozes the next texture of thick delicious perfectly sweetened vanilla pastry cream filling. ‘s;klnf’alskndf’paisnf!!!!!!
  • It’s seriously one of the biggest foodgasms you’ll experience if it’s your first time. Don’t be scared.
  • The pastry chef that created this is not even the Executive Pastry Chef… bless her soul.


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