Restaurant: Ganache Patisserie
Last Visited: May 5, 2012
Location: Vancouver, BC (Yaletown/Downtown)
Address: 1262 Homer Street
Transit: Yaletown-Roundhouse Stn Southbound
Price Range: $10 or less
1: Poor 2: OK 3: Good 4: Very good 5: Excellent 6: FMF Must Try!
- Pastry chef and owner Peter Fong
- Seasonal cake menu
- Modern French patisserie
- Creative & elegant cakes
- Modern French cakes (w/twist)
- Baked on site
- Handmade chocolates/confections
- Whole cakes/Individual cakes
- Wedding cakes
- Baked goods to go/gift shop
- Limited seating
- Tues. – Fri. – 11am – 6pm
- Saturdays – 11am – 7pm
- Sundays – 11am – 5pm
- Mondays – 11am – 5pm
**Recommendations: Caramel-Chocolat, Chocolat-Banane
The dessert scene is finally picking up in Vancouver and I am thrilled! It’s one of my favourite meals of the day. You think I’m joking, but if you know me or this blog, I’m not. I guess you could say I have a sweet tooth, and by that I mean I have to have something sweet after every single meal. Even if it’s just a bite, but I need something to change the palate and feel complete. Sometimes it’s not even one dessert and more often than not it’s actually two… or three because I can have gelato, frozen yogurt or ice cream any time and I count that as part of my liquid diet. My obsession with sweets didn’t even start at an early age and it wasn’t until university that I developed such a love for it.
Ganache Patisserie is an unassuming dessert shop in Yaletown and it’s one of the earlier players in Vancouver’s Parisian dessert scene. It came before Bel Cafe, Thierry, Soirette Macarons & Tea, Cadeaux Bakery, Chef Kev, Faubourg and French Made Baking, which almost all opened within the last year. Until this last year, the dessert scene in Vancouver was limited to Ganache, Kreation Artisan Cake, Sweet Revenge, True Confections, Sweet Obsessions, Butter Baked Goods, Giovane Cafe and of course Thomas Haas, just to name some of the popular ones.
The city has lots of bakeries, but dessert focused shops and pâtisseries specializing in sophisticated French style cakes, confectioneries and chocolates were rare. Nowadays the tables have turned as hand made chocolates, posh pastry shops, gourmet doughnut shops, gluten free bakeries and even macaron only shops are quite easily found throughout the city. On that note “The Dessert Only Restaurant” was also one of my Top 10 Dessert Trends in Vancouver for 2012.
Although I adore desserts I admit I’m rather picky with them. It’s just because I eat so many of them that I can get really particular about what I like. I have a strong admiration for pastry chefs too because it requires patience, attention to technique and a solid understanding of science.
Even though I like sweets and can eat a lot of them, my sweet tolerance isn’t as high as my salt tolerance. To put my sweet tolerance in perspective I think most Asian desserts are not sweet enough and most Latin and East Indian desserts too sweet. My favourite desserts are European, French to be specific, and also American and the more creative they are, the more inclined I am to always have room for more.
This isn’t my first time at Ganache and it was actually one of my earlier blog posts – see here. It offers creative cakes with modern American flavours, but made with traditional French techniques. They also have a small selection of traditional French pastries.
Although the menu and style is right up my alley, most of the items sound better in the descriptions. I had the same feeling when I blogged about it 2 years ago and while the menu offers some seasonal specials, my thoughts haven’t changed much. I guess that also means it’s consistent.
Unlike many of the other French pâtisseries it has a lighter flare. It is not as rich or sweet which I don’t mind, but I also wish they didn’t hold back on some ingredients. It is considered good value for the caliber, but I would rather pay a bit more for a high quality product. It’s not that it is not a quality product, but the flavours don’t translate and I’m not sure if it’s due to cost of ingredients, or just personal tastes.
It’s still unquestionably one of the better patisseries in Yaletown offering sophisticated cakes, but there is a lack of consideration for texture and intensity of flavours. The turnover isn’t high enough either, so on occasion I’ve had a couple cakes pick up fridge aromas.
The cakes and constructed more or less the same; so while there is a wide variety, the style is repetitive. I also wish the individual cakes were individually finished rather than cut from a slab. Mind you, it is how many cake shops execute, but it doesn’t always have to be as obvious. It is a small detail, but attention to detail makes a difference.
The selection of cakes is quite large, so perhaps a more focused menu would rid some reoccurring issues. It is a Yaletown mainstay and it seems set in its traditions and techniques, but there is room for improvement.
On the table:
- Vanilla cake, vanilla sablé Breton, white chocolate black pepper mousseline, strawberries, passionfruit meringue $5.75
- This is one of the most popular, but instead of strawberries it was raspberries.
- Neither fruits are in season or local so that kind of baffled me since the ingredients are supposed to be all seasonal.
- The description sounded more complex than the result, but it was still good.
- It tasted pretty much like a strawberry or raspberry shortcake so it was quite light, fruity and simple.
- Although light, the vanilla sablé Breton (French Butter Cookie) layers and buttercream were very rich and buttery in flavour.
- The cake layers were shortcake sponge layers and it was creamy, moist, not too sweet and naturally fruity.
- I couldn’t taste the black pepper or any sort of spiciness and the white chocolate wasn’t too obvious either.
- I also couldn’t tell it was passionfruit meringue although it was fluffy and marshmallow like. I liked the texture.
- I really wish there was crispy texture in this though. Some phyllo sheets to make it like a Napoleon would have made it even better.
- Chevre cheesecake, pistachio biscotti base, apricot gelée, pistachio olive oil cake, apricot caramel mousse $5.95
- This sounded right up my alley and this is a seasonal cake. It was the most popular one last year at this time too.
- I love pistachio so I had to choose this one.
- When “Pistachio” is in the title I except it to carry a strong presence and flavour in the cake, but in this case it was really just pistachio olive oil and I couldn’t taste much pistachio.
- If anything it was more cheese cake like with sponge cake layers and the flavours of apricot and pistachio played a back seat, but it was still good.
- I just found the chevre cheese in the cheesecake a bit strong for the cake. It wasn’t gamey, but it was strong like a New York style cheesecake.
- I would have preferred something lighter like a Marscarpone cheese because the chevre cheese overpowered the other flavours. Had the pistachio been stronger with actual pistachio nuts it probably would have worked.
- The layer of cheesecake was also the thickest so it was almost extra dominating and I lost the main “Abricot-Pistache” theme.
- I really hoped to have some actual pistachio nuts in this because I couldn’t really taste any in the pistachio biscotti base either.
- The pistachio biscotti base tasted like a soft cheesecake graham cracker crust and I tasted more graham than anything.
- The crust was moist, not too thick and good, but I wish it was made with feuillantine for a crispy crunch and much more pistachio.
- I liked the Amerena cherries in the middle and those random bites of sour sweet cherries gave a nice contrast to the rich cheese and sweet cake.
- The apricot layers and flavour were quite subtle and I wouldn’t mind more presence from that.
- It wasn’t too sweet and it was still quite dense and creamy because of the cheesecake part, but I was hoping for more because the description sounded amazing.
- Lemon cream, lemon curd, mandarin oranges, almond dacquoise $5.75
- This was rather light, creamy and fluffy and not too sweet or citrusy, but if anything more sweet than citrusy.
- It was verbally described to my friend as an “orange creamsicle” and while that didn’t sound appealing to me, he liked it.
- I thought it tasted much better than an orange creamsicle because it didn’t have any fake orange flavour and the ingredients were fresh and good quality.
- The lemon curd was smooth and creamy, but it didn’t have that lemon zing or fresh scent of lemon zest.
- I appreciate the mandarin fruit in the centre, but I wish there was more of it.
- It was a rather moussey and creamy cake and the almond flavour was faint. Some actual almonds would be nice too.
- Again, I would have loved something crunchy or crispy in this because it was lacking some texture.
- Toasted coconut butter cake, coconut mousseline, curry-spiced pineapple marmalade, caramel crunch $5.95
- Again, the description sounded amazing, but the flavours went as far as coconut.
- Unfortunately it also got absorbed some fridge aromas so it needed a plastic wrap, protective layer, or quicker turnover.
- It was quite dense rather than creamy, light or fluffy.
- I was most interested in the “curry-spiced pineapple marmalade”, but even the pineapple alone was quite faint.
- I couldn’t get any crunch either and I just got the coconut butter cake despite it having so many layers.
- The coconut butter cake was dry alone, but okay with everything eaten together.
- I liked that it wasn’t too sweet, but I would have loved more levels in flavour.
- Caramel butter cake with chestnuts and cocoa nibs, tonka bean ganache, green apple gelée, chestnut mousseline $5.95
- It was the same thing with this cake. The description sounded better than the end result, but it was still good.
- I tasted chocolate first and then the chestnut.
- I was hoping for more chestnut and it had some texture from the cocoa nibs mixed into the chocolate layer.
- However there were not enough cocoa nibs and if I had not known, I might have thought it was unintentional.
- I would have loved texture from actual candied chestnuts or even hazelnuts.
- There were little bits of chestnut in the chestnut mousseline, but that whole layer could have been thicker.
- The chestnut layer was also a bit dried out so it was starting to crack and I could taste a hint of fridge aroma.
- The green apple gelée was good alone, but it was quite faint when eaten all together.
- I loved the idea of it, but just wished it translated.
- For chestnut cakes I actually love the Chinese bakery versions of them. Those are incredibly chestnut-ty in flavour and I recommend it from La Patisserie, Saint Germain Bakery, Anna’s Cake House, or Janice Cake Shop.
- These are one of my favourite things and that’s in general and not even in the category of “baked goods”.
- If almond croissants are on the menu I’m almost guaranteed to order it.
- The chestnut brown colour was perfect and it was likely a double baked croissant.
- It was consistent with an even caramelization all around and it was made like an authentic French croissant.
- I prefer the sliced almonds to almost cover the top entirely rather than being sprinkled on top, but this was still okay and aesthetically pleasing.
- The top had a butter and sugar topping which baked up like the topping of a Chinese style Mexican bun or Pineapple bun. I actually liked that more than the sprinkle of icing sugar.
- For me I like hearing that crunch when I take my first bite, but this had no crunch and the exterior wasn’t crispy.
- The croissant was nice and chewy and noticeably not as sweet or dense as many almond croissants in the city.
- You can tell it’s not as sweet or dense purely by the fact that the layers of the croissant still puffed up with thin and stretchy membranes.
- Many almond croissants usually lack this trait and the layers tend to compact and fall upon each other from the extra butter, sugar and almond weight.
- The croissant was moist and flaky on the inside more so than the outside, but it lacked that intense high quality buttery flavour that is expected for a perfect croissant.
- It was filled with a pretty good quality almond filling and I could taste the ground almonds and it really wasn’t that sweet at all.
- Personally I like more almond flavour and filling though and this one could have used a bit more, if not at least more almonds on top for more almond flavour.
- For a more dessert like one that technically isn’t as well executed as this one, but still tastes very good is the Almond Croissant at Matchstick Coffee.
- Almonds croissants are almost always very good to me, but my favourites are still from Thomas Haas or Bakery Nouveau in Seattle.