Sugar Rush: Mille-Feuille at Pâtisserie Rhubarbe, Montreal
Preciously Parisian, dainty and delicate: that's the best way I can describe Montreal's Pâtisserie Rhubarbe. The description is apt for both the feel of this neighborhood bakery, which has seating for about a dozen people, and the baked goods you'll find for sale.
There are two small showcases of treats. Amidst gorgeous religieuses marron, stunning petite cheesecakes topped with grapefruit, and cute jars of panna cotta and pot chocolat, the 1000 Feuilles ($4.50) tempted me most.
Rhubarbe's mille-feuille is traditional, featuring three layers of puff pastry filled with two layers of cream and topped with a dusting of confectioner's sugar. In my mille-feuille, the first layer of cream was caramel, while the second was vanilla Chantilly cream, with specks of tell-tale vanilla bean.
A mille-feuille may look delicate to the eye, but it's not the daintiest thing to eat. Each fork-piercing causes shards to fly, followed by a quick snowfall of sugar. You'll want to retrieve those shards, as the pastry is wonderfully fresh and flaky. Meanwhile, the cream is light and luxurious, a nice counterpoint to the buttery dough without being too sweet. The contrasting textures, crispy and cloud-like, are what make a mille-feuille a fun dessert—and Rhubarbe gets it just right.
Before leaving, you might want to return to the counter to get macarons, cookies, and little loaves of bread (I saw pistachio, chocolate, and zucchini when I visited) to go. And don't forget to check out the jams, jellies, and preserves on the shelves. This gives you the chance to take home a piece of Montreal's Paris.
About the author: Jay Friedman is a Seattle-based freelance food writer who happens to travel extensively as a sex educator. An avid fan of noodles (some call him "The Mein Man"), he sees sensuality in all foods, and blogs about it at his Gastrolust website. You can follow him on Twitter @jayfriedman.