The Dauphine Bakery and Bistro(780) 421-4410
10129 104 st
Edmonton, AB T5J0Z9
Mon to Sat. 11 a.m. to 6 p.m., Friday open until 7 p.m.
As the Queen of Tarts of the 104 Street Downtown Farmers’ Market, Linda Kearney’s lemon tart pies were usually sold out before noon.
Fortunately, Kearney had the energy to expand into a permanent bakery and bistro, which sadly, for copyright reasons, cannot use the “Queen of Tarts” moniker.
The Dauphine is just steps away from her summer market booth, and what a fine addition to the year-round dining scene it is.
The ambience is surprising and delightful.
The street-front doors of the old building on 104 Street open onto a wide set of cathedral stairs, leading into an airy loft basement that is anything but — huge ceilings and natural light from the storefront windows create an inviting bakery with the floor space of a warehouse.
The main dining space is a niche alongside the great staircase, just seven or eight tables, plus a counter and stools.
The bistro is for lunches and early suppers as it closes at 6 p.m., 7 p.m. on Fridays, but it is comfortable and classy, with tablecloths and linen napkins.
Given the Dauphine is French-inspired (and who makes better bread than the French?) the menu is primarily interesting sandwiches with spectacular bread, i.e. smoked salmon on rye, a French Vietnamese banh mih, marinated tuna on a baguette, croque monsieur … plus a soup of the day, pot pies, salads and French onion soup.
The French onion soup took a little while, and for excellent reasons.
What a soup! Made from scratch, the broth was scintillating, the onions beautifully caramelized, the bread cover topped with generous thick slices of Gruyere and Emmental cheese. It had been perfectly timed under the broiler, piping hot under the bubbling just-beginning-to-brown melted cheese. Wow!
The marinated tuna was not as successful despite the perfectly chewy whole wheat baguette. The flaked tuna, while marinated, tasted dry and a sour olive tapenade didn’t help. I can’t wait to try the Dauphine’s other offerings, especially the pot pie, but I’ll pass on the tuna.
Before leaving, I had to buy lemon tart and pear-almond pies to take to the family. Talk about instant brownie points on the home front!
On the bakery side, the Dauphine offers the best bread to be had in the downtown.
Linda is a fresh fanatic, insisting on quality — real butter, French chocolate, organic eggs. She is a devotee of levain — the “sourdough” yeast starter that is very much an art, producing a far more interesting bread than industrial yeast — and makes heritage French breads. They may cost a dollar or two more than supermarket fancy breads, but they have 10 times the quality in every bite.
• • •
An epicurean wave is spreading from the 104 Street and Jasper Avenue (Dauphine, Tzin, Blue Plate, Lit, Credo Coffee) hub.
The Remedy Café has burst out of its southside location to make a mighty splash at 103 Street and Jasper Avenue. It’s quite unique, a cheerful, glass-enclosed “licensed chai bar” with South Indian style wraps and the must-try masala dosa (a dosa is like a big crepe, the South Indian answer to the chapati).
Open until midnight, The Remedy Café is doing fabulous business. Everybody loves the atmosphere, the food and the variations on chai tea.
The trendy Transcend Coffee has found a savoury snack niche with in-house Latin and South American pastries.
The Dauphine, Remedy Café, Transcend, Corso 32, The Hat, Tzin, Lit, Credo, MRKT, Sobey’s Café, Funky Pickle Pizza, the Russian Tea Room, Fantasia and the new Cask & Barrel are all within 100 metres of the 104 Street/Jasper axis. A downtown neighbourhood renaissance is unfolding before our eyes.