The diversity of Toronto coffee shops range from socketed snack bars to pristine patisseries. Nadege is certainly the latter. Positioned beside Trinty-Bellwoods park, Nadege sits a bit out of place. It’s bright white exterior clashes with the surrounding landscape along Queen West. Upon entry, you are transformed in to a small, bright cafe adorned with small tables. Large glass counters house articulate creations ranging from traditional French macarons to Japanese inspired green tea cake. A large window stretching across the back wall allows patrons to witness the pastry chefs begetting delicacies while dressed with European eclat.
Nadege has some of the best counter (premade) sandwiches in Toronto. There’s an array of choices including ham and brie, roasted vegetables, french ham and brie and fig and sandwiches of the day on either croissants or baguettes. In particular, I’m a fan of the cucumber, mature cheddar and green leaves on a croissant. It’s simple, fresh and tasty. In general, you’re going to pay $6-8 for each of these creations.
The quality of the desserts and pastries are top notch. A cute gimmick are the chocolate bars, showcasing a different flavour for each letter of the alphabet. I’m not sure what’s more impressive; the variety of offerings or the keen use of english and french lexicography to cover off each letter. In my case I was drawn to “Y” for Yuzu and Cashew over the “B” for Banana or “Q” for Quatre Noix (mixed nuts). “Y” was true to its name, containing healthy chunks of cashews within silky milk chocolate with mild citrus undertones. A decent confection but a bit steep at over $10 per bar.
Nadege adheres to the philosophy that the age old art of brewing coffee has evolved to an espresso machine and a cup of hot water. More so is the infusion of arrogance synonymous, stereotypical or otherwise, with the french culture evident in the response to my barbaric suggestion of a dripped cup of joe. In other words, not only is there no brewed coffee, but I get attitude in suggesting that there should be. The interior is a bit sterile and unfriendly despite the attractive creations sitting within the glass and the previously mentioned display of brightly packaged chocolate bars on the opposite wall. Nadege has the ambiance of an operating room.
The Final Sip
Nadege’s strength lies in high quality baked goods, chocolate and delicate pastries with some of the best counter sandwiches in Toronto. The lack of brewed coffee and a sterile, unfriendly environment means I’ll do take out and get my coffee elsewhere.