** This restaurant is now closed. **
After a wholesome vegan lunch at Noorish, MH and I decided to prolong our catch-up session with a trip to Dauphine Bakery & Bistro. It probably wasn't the healthiest choice as a follow-up, but I felt like we deserved it after eating so many vegetables in one sitting.
Dauphine is a quaint bakery and bistro situated on the ever-hip and sophisticated 104th street in downtown Edmonton. Home to the city market during the summer season, 104th street has a ton of local gems to explore, from boutiques to eateries and everything in between. We hopped on the LRT from University for a quick ride over to Bay Enterprise Station, where Dauphine is literally steps away from one of the station's outposts.
Established in 2011 under the pseudonym 'Queen of Tarts', the bakery was forced to re-brand after a copyright infringement lawsuit. Personally, I think 'Dauphine' suits the classy Parisian look and feel of the place much better anyway.
Opening the bakery's doors, you're led down a set of stairs into an airy, open space. A tempting display of pastries and breads fills up a large sectional 'L' counter, while marble tables and chairs fill out the rest of the restaurant. My favourite area to sit at is definitely the cozy nook beside the staircase, which holds more tables with booth seating.
If you plan to eat in, a chalkboard sign instructs you to seat yourself until one of the waitstaff comes by to take your order. Although Dauphine offers a menu of savoury options such as quiches and sandwiches, I've only ever been here twice for their desserts. That's why I find it a bit awkward to have to wait and order at the table, when you're already by the counter perusing the pastry cabinets.
Since the bakery is famous for their tarts, it's a no-brainer to get one. This was my second time ordering the white chocolate pistachio tart ($6.00), and for good reason! The crust is reminiscent of shortbread, with a very crumbly texture. Though the white chocolate ganache is quite sweet, the thick texture pairs well with the slight saltiness and nuttiness of the crushed pistachios. Apparently the lemon tart is also worth a try!
I also ordered a slice of their carrot cake ($6.95), knowing fully well that I'd pack pretty much all of it home for my family to pick at later on. The cake is moist enough, and generously studded with flecks of carrot, nuts, and raisins. The frosting is a simple cream cheese, with the outside covered in shreds of toasted coconut. Overall a decent cake.
MH decided to go for a ginger snap ($1.25) and a peanut butter sandwich cookie ($2.00). The peanut butter sandwich cookie appeared to be an oatmeal type of cookie, perhaps sandwiched with a peanut buttercream. MH also really liked the ginger snap, noting that it had the perfect amount of spice.
I think the main question on everyone's mind is how Dauphine compares to Duchess, considering some similarities between the two bakeries. I'd say the selection is less refined and more limited at Dauphine (though they offer more breads!). The foot traffic is also much slower, yet steady. It's definitely quieter than your average experience at Duchess, where lines will literally spill out of the famed bakery at any time of the day. Because of that, I would say Dauphine is an adequate substitute for Duchess, that is, if you're in the mood for French-inspired pastries without the hustle and bustle.