A French patisserie with a Tunisian twist

Patisserie Pariès, 5490 Queen Mary Rd. 514-360-3130 

One of my rules in life is that there has to be a good pastry shop located within walking distance of wherever I live. This was nary a problem on the Plateau. But when I first moved to the Snowdon, there was barely anything half-decent other than a kosher café next to the metro and a small café with an Italian name on the other side of Décarie. Queen-Mary is not exactly known for gourmet food at reasonable prices, and even the kosher place cannot serve a decent coffee.

Then Pariès opened up and changed everything, and hopefully it will set an example for present and future restaurateurs. Pariès is owned by a Tunisian husband-and-wife team, but they specialize in French pastry. However, they do serve a few Tunsian delicacies, including almond baklava and, on Fridays, a vegetarian couscous royale, a traditional North African dish made with couscous, veggies, lamb and harissa. This dish reminds me of Sabbath dinners spent with Moroccan friends.

The owners also make an assortment of sandwiches, including Maghrebian-style merguez and lamb burgers. Pastry-wise, they’ve got all the standards, including torsades au chocolat and chocolatines (my favourite), millefeuille (my late father’s favourite), croissants, chocolate mousse, fruit tarts, tiramisu, opera, crème brulée/caramel, Paris-Brest, rhum baba, black forest cake, bakery cookies, baguettes and other breads. Everything is made fresh daily right on the premises. They even offered cronuts when they first opened, but stopped selling them because there was not enough demand, and if not eaten on the spot, they go bad within a couple of hours. However, the owner will make them for special orders only, so you better get them fresh!

Needless to say, I feel right at home here at this bi-cultural café in my west-end hood. I must say, I was a bit reticent to try this place when it first opened, because I thought Pariès would be another food disaster, and the décor didn’t appeal to me from the outside. The cakes and pastries are not visible through the store-front window, which kind of makes this place lose its curb appeal. Nevertheless, the aroma will draw you inside and up a short flight of stairs to the second level where you can find everything edible.

There are also enough tables to sit here and surf the Net (free Wi-Fi), work and write reviews like I do, and in summer they set up a makeshift patio. Come December, they’ll be selling Christmas logs, and I’ll be sure to get mine, even if I don’t officially celebrate the holiday!

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