Boulangerie Guillaume: Everything Else You Need to Know
Personal letter aside, this is the best new bakery in Montreal. It hasn't been open very long, but already it had to expand because of demand.
First, because the bread is amazing, and second because Guillaume (whom I finally met) has magic bread-making hands and not every baker is as passionate as he is about his sourdough culture, poolish, and strawberry jam-filled donut-scented yeast. Then there are the butter croissants, chocolatines, and brioches...
Boulangerie Guillaume's baking is actually a three-person operation: Guillaume, Guillaume's conjointe, and Guillaume's sister (though it would be hard to find friendlier counter-service, despite coming from outside the family). While they mostly do breads and pastries, you can also come for breakfast or lunch - toast of your choice with jam (raspberry or peach at the time, with deliciously luscious butter. For half an hour of my life my head turned off and I didn't think about a single thing besides bread, butter, and jam. Take that, yoga) or cretons, very traditional sandwiches of simple ham and cheese, or just ham and butter. You don't need much else when the bread is this good. There's also the chef's salad, which is whatever Guillaume's partner whips up for their own lunch (while supplies last, of course), all of which goes well with a cappuccino.
Even with magical hands like Guillaume's, you can't make good, healthy, pure-tasting bread without high-quality ingredients. That means there's nothing chemically refined in Guillaume's flour. In standard white flour, he explains, a whole grain (integral) flour is bleached and separated into parts, the germ and bran. What's left is white flour to which bran or germ can be re-added (to create Robin Hood's version of whole wheat, for example), or not (Robin Hood all-purpose flour).
At Boulangeri guillaume all the traditional French loaves are accounted for - the unbleached baguettes, the bastard loaf, the flute, the miche, the sourdough - but everything is as healthy as possible, and the number of loaves made from the strawberry-jam-filled donut aromatic yeast (I swear) rivals the fermented, mushroom-free (yeast-free), enzyme-rich, and more easily digestible sourdough. In fact there are 5 or so different sourdough options (usually you'll only find one baguette and maybe a loaf), two spelt loaves (gluten-slightly-intolerant people rejoice!), and one kamut with organic prunes. Kamut is easy, says Guillaume, but it needs yeast instead of sourdough culture to make it rise well.
So there's no dairy in the breads, but there's a whole lot in the pastries...The 100% butter croissants; the petits Ã©coliers with 70% dark chocolate, white chocolate and 35% cream; and so many kinds of brioches. Heaven...
Then there are the olive fougasses (perfectly salty and fresh), the sun-dried tomato and basil ciabatta (slightly sweet, and moist from the olive oil), and the ultimate sourdough baguette (the standard baguette tastes mild by comparison, but this is definitely not going to overpower anything you put on it. It would be perfect with anything a little bitter, though - something with lemon in it, or nuts), and the sourdough hamburger bun with poppyseeds would be perfect with a naturally-sweet meat like a bison or beef burger. BBQ sauce would be overkill.
Almost everything comes in a small or large format, often baguette or loaf form, so you don't have to worry about wasting any of this incredible bread, though it'll probably be tricky to stop yourself halfway, knowing that on day 2 the bread just won't be the same. It'll certainly still be delicious, but even wrapped tightly in a bread bag, a baguette just doesn't stay the same. The sourdough loaves stay deliciously light and a little soft and pillowy, like the marshmallow fluff of bread. You can also freeze it and toast it later, but fresh...well, there's nothing quite like it, but unless you live right at Fairmount and St-Laurent, you might want your bread to last until at least day 2 or 3. Then you go back for the unrefined flour, yeast, and strawberry jelly-like aromas, and zen-like calm created by Guillaume's baking.
17 Fairmount East
Hours: Tues-Sat 7am-7pm, Sun 7am-2pm