On a quiet Sunday afternoon in Edmonton, Duchess Bake Shop is far from tranquil. Karen and I were looking for a place to have some lunch and sweets. Duchess immediately came to mind.
The decor is elegant yet simple. The bakery gives you this Victorian feel. It is bright and vibrant, yet classical and comfortable. The environment is perfectly fitting for its name and for the food they serve.
You can see that every table is full. Karen and I had to split up: she waited by a couple who looked like they were about to leave and snagged their spot, while I waited in line to place our orders. It took about 15 minutes before it was my turn, but by then I had just enough time to decide what I would like to order from their extensive array of sweets and hot food. Their hot food options were not as robust as their desserts, but there were definitely a few to choose from. We ordered the Pear Tartine with Potato and Leek Soup and the Quiche Lorraine.
The Tartine was composed of a bed of chopped lettuce, under warm cooked slices of pear, on a toasted piece of rye bread, covered with a light melted cheese and garnished with fresh pepper. This combination gave a sweet and savory flavour to the tartine that was very appetizing, but not too heavy despite the cheese. Our only complaint was the the hardness of the bread which made it difficult to eat. The potato leak soup was fragrant and had a good combination of the two ingredients (potato and leek). However, the soup was a bit watery for my liking and lacked the consistency of a creamy potato based soup.
The quiche was amazing. It was fluffy, light, and moist. Combined with the perfectly browned surface and the flaky, rich, and buttery crust, this is hands down the best quiche I have ever had. Every bite was better than the last and Karen and I had to fight over who got the last piece. I highly recommend the quiche at Duchess.
To wash down our delicious lunch, Karen had a Latte and I had a iced Americano. There is nothing special to say about their coffee. Moving on to dessert, we ordered half a dozen macarons, a lemon tart, and raspberry white chocolate scone.
The first thing we noticed about these macarons were that they were handsome. The colours they used were not too vibrant, but instead resembled more of a natural look that closely followed the flavour of the macaron. Also, the addition of pistachio and hazelnut on their respective macarons gave them bonus points for presentation. The meringue was not too crunchy on the outside and not too light or airy on the inside, which gave the macaron a bit of chew to it. This was great as we dislike macarons that become almost like a hard candy texture when you bite into it. All the flavours were great and none of the macarons were too sweet (the pistachio and hazelnut stood out as the best ones). The only thing I would change would be to replace the buttercream with a ganache filling, which would give the macarons a more rich flavour and more physical support/structure to them.
The powdered sugar and the blueberry just completes the presentation of the Lemon Tart. The tart had a fresh lemon zest flavour that you notice as soon as you take a bite. The sourness is perfectly balanced by the sweetness. The filling was creamy and almost runny, which is a change from the typical jello-y lemon tarts that I’ve experienced. The crust was more on the hard side and not as crumbly as I would have liked. As a result, it was very difficult to cut with a knife.
Unfortunately we did not take a picture of the raspberry white chocolate scone, but we felt like we had to talk about it because it was that delicious. The outside was crunchy and the inside was soft, moist and crumbly. The pairing of the white chocolate and the raspberry was amazing. Both flavours were present and one did not overpower the other (the raspberry and the white chocolate flavour in the scone was in perfect harmony). The scone’s combination of the crunchiness and the softness as well as the perfect balance of the white chocolate and raspberry really impressed us.
Duchess Bake Shop is a great little bakery and cafe. With their beautiful decor to their amazing desserts and hot food, Duchess is a must try if you find yourself in Edmonton.
Atmosphere: Elegant, Simple, Victorian