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Dutch Bakery, Satisfying: the old-fashioned way

Allan Reid, Monday Mag restaurant reviewer, visits Dutch Bakery on Fort Street

Long time Victorians may recall 1956, when Kees Schaddelee Sr., newly arrived from the Neth-erlands, rented a modest coffee shop on Fort Street, and began to bake. Sixty-four years later, the third generation of Schaddelee owners are still there.

When I arrived in town, in 2007, the Dutch Bakery was a rite of passage for new arrivals. I was staying with friends, and after dinner, out came the lightest bodied mocha cake I have ever tast-ed. It was almost like eating a cloud, or drinking a creamy latté sprinkled with crunchy flecks of sweet pastry: delicious cream and espresso flavours with a hint of chocolate, delicate and just sweet enough.

It remains unchanged through the years. Recently, I enjoyed a Vanilla Slice: rich with creamy vanilla custard between two tough-to-cut, but melt-in-the-mouth pastry wafers, topped with a sweet vanilla fondant and a rope of buttercream. Delectable. I should confess that my Vanilla Slice followed a late morning breakfast. Dessert before noon? Oh, but it’s hard to leave without something sweet, so take it home if you must, have it with with coffee, out on your patio, but have it, you must. It’s no wonder that the Dutch Bakery’s hot-pink boxes have attended dinner parties throughout the city. The Dutch Bakery, it seems, is everyone’s favourite.

No surprise then, that the small lobby is usually jammed with folks. These days, the much thin-ner crowd reveals that the old coffee shop is still there: one of our city’s hidden gems. Beyond the counter of chocolates, past the bakery cases, you’ll see the homey, mom-and-pop shop, where every meal is served on heavy white dinner plates with a swirling pink-wing edge. Hark-ening bak to the ‘60s, it recalls the days of thick milkshakes served in giant steel tumblers, enough to fill two tall glasses, enjoyed while perched on round vinyl-topped stools before a long arborite counter. I’m not talking about the retro-fantasy chrome and vinyl kind of place. I’m talk-ing kitschy comfort and family photos hung on wood-panelled walls.

Here you’ll find timeless breakfasts of eggs, cooked as you like, bacon, ham, or sausage, toast and hashbrowns (not the shredded kind, $6.35 or $10.90). Prefer a fancier format? Omelettes and breakfast sandwiches use the same ingredients. Try the Uitsmyter ($10.90) for a Dutch take on a ham-and-egg sandwich, served open-faced. And coffee, of course: drip coffee.

In the 1960s, Americanos were served mainly in Italy, derisively, by Italian baristas to American tourists; 1960s lunches were sandwiches on sliced white bread, or brown that was almost white, if you asked. Burgers were served on buns. Salad was a side. Wraps hadn’t been invented.

So, okay, the menu has changed some. Americanos, sourdough and multigrain are now available, but you’ll not find quinoa or arugula, aioli or chipotle, nor salsa or lentils. All sandwiches and burgers served today are deluxe: with lettuce (iceberg), tomato, sliced cheese and your choice of butter, mayonnaise, ketchup or yellow mustard. Pickle on the side. And do try the Beef Cro-quettes: elongated balls of minced beef and gravy, breaded and fried. A Dutch favourite. This is not healthy food, but wholesome, filling, satisfying and comfortable in the old-fashioned way. Sometimes, it’s pleasing when things don’t change too much.

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