A unique boutique café and bakery downtown


What used to be Première Moisson is now Olivier Potier, a French-owned café-bakery that is about to become my favourite new hangout. The semi-basement establishment has been completely transformed into a sleeker, more modern yet warm space retaining its original brick walls and featuring a black-and-white décor enhanced by recessed lighting. The café churns out breads, sandwiches, pastries and other desserts in the French tradition.

Although there’s not as much on the menu as that of its predecessor, that’s probably a good thing, because this place makes up for it by focusing more on customer experience. In fact, service is so personalized, the staff even serve you at your table, which is really convenient when you don’t want to go up to the counter to order while trying to keep a watchful eye on your laptop.

Chef and owner, Olivier Potier, hails from the north of France and has worked at such renowned culinary institutions as La Durée Paris, famous for its macarons, and more locally in the kitchens of several hotels including The Saint James, The Saint Paul and Sofitel. Potier uses only the finest imported ingredients in his creations, and the result is delicious buttery pastries that taste like they were made in France rather than here.

The price tag for two cappuccinos and a pain au chocolat came out to just over $11, which is a little pricey considering that the cappuccinos were more like lattes, so I had to order another one to wake up. I guess I could ask them to make it a little stronger next time and without so much foam. I can’t speak much for the sandwiches, because I’m not a big sandwich person, unless they’re extremely creative and made with proportional ingredients and especially not too much bread. Also, I wasn’t in a sandwich mood, but if I had to choose it would probably be the brie with cranberries and apricots or the Bernaise roast beef with Dijon mustard.

Since it’s only a year old, many Westmount and downtown residents are still unaware of its existence, and act all surprised when they walk in and see a completely different space with half what there used to be. But like I said before, less is more in terms of service and quality, and the ambiance is way more pleasant. There are even electrical outlets and Wi-Fi for laptops, and one of the staff was nice enough to plug my computer extension cord into the outlet in back of the wall-mounted television. My only complaint: the padded seats, which are comfy but too sunken-in when you’re trying to do some serious work on your computer. Otherwise, this place could become my new office. Also, they could use a couple of hooks to hang your jacket or coat.

I had been meaning to check out this establishment the minute I saw it while walking along Sherbrooke Street, and somehow knew I’d become a regular. I’m not a big fan of big chain establishments, so I’m really thrilled about this boutique café, as there are not many genuine ones in the downtown area.

Pâtisserie Olivier Potier on Urbanspoon

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