Burnt out from summer midterm blues, I sought refuge at my favourite French - Italian bakery. Notte's Bon Ton Pastry and Confectionery, dating back from 1926, have been my sole provider of the finest butter cream cakes since the beginning of time. The sweet smell of real butter cream and fresh pastries, along with the comforting sounds of the pleasant employees chatting in the background instantly brightened my mood. The hot chocolate ($1.65), made with real chunks of rich chocolate and steamed milk, soothed my brain cells with each sip. Topped with fresh whip cream, Bon Ton definitely deserves to be known as having one of the best, and inexpensively priced hot chocolates in the city.
On one of my more recent visits, the tables were filled with mostly self - absorbed women busy bad-mouthing their friends and bosses, mothers with children, and friends all waiting their turn for the tarot reading. Go between 11:00 a.m. and 4: 00 p.m. and have your cards read in the tea room ($8.00), a minimum charge of $4.00 for food is required. The tea room closes at 5 p.m., readings available from Tuesday to Saturday.
Order some pretty butter cream mini cakes from the window display ($2.25), the specialty cheesecake ($3.50), or the secret cake only the regulars know about � the orange cream cake (when offered on their daily specials, otherwise a special order must be placed at least 24 hrs ahead of time for whole cakes). Try a slice of the jealousy cake, a mini version of Bon Ton's famous diplomat cake, minus the rum. Hence the envious name, Jealousy. Pick and choose the various pretty cakes displayed by the front window and eat them from a tier at your table.
Lovely meringues, assorted cookies, apple pies, coffee cake, and mince meat pies (seasonal) are also safe bets. The wickedly rich diplomat cake has layer upon perfect layer of crisp pastry sheets, topped with exquisite butter cream, sponge cake, and icing sugar. The crowning glory on this cake is the bottom layer, which is soaked in rum ($16.00).
The motherly staff at Bon Ton has been there forever; feel free to ask them about the ingredients in any of their cakes if you have any particular dietary concerns. The wise and gracious server in the tea room suggested the ham and cheese croissant. The croissant was buttery, moist and light, with enough of a crisp exterior to make a satisfying chomp - chomping sound as I ate. The slices of cheddar cheese and black forest ham were thickly cut, and perfectly proportional to the croissant.
Speaking as an impatient customer of Bon Ton, I suggest to Bon Ton virgins to check out their cakes and pastries before the peak holiday season begins. When the bakery is packed, especially during the Christmas season, Bon Ton has a constant u shaped line-up running around the store. I, along with other loyal patrons, have no time for newbies slowing up the line. Head over now and get acquainted with their pastries (and dietary questions) so I can have my Christmas dinner on time this year.
Reviewed by: Christine G. Louie
Last reviewed: June 12, 2005