Greater Toronto's best ethnic hole-in-the-wall restaurants and strip mall eateries.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

This Cabbagetown bakery serves fine French pastries and spicy Sri Lankan snacks

A steady stream of customers head into the narrow storefront of Absolute Bakery & Cafe at 589 Parliament Street, lured by the picture-perfect delicate pastries and breads in the window front. Not only does the bakery serve top notch sweets such as poppy seed rolls and cream cheese danishes, it also has wonderful spicy snacks from Sri Lanka. Tucked behind the counter are trays of curried rolls, known in Sri Lanka as 'short eats.' 

Owner Nageswary Rajendran explains that her fish buns—large triangular baked rolls stuffed with curry—are very popular in her home country of Sri Lanka. Absolute's powdery fish and meat rolls are good, but the clear winner of the bunch is the rotti (below, under the pies), a long folded soft bread stuffed with beef, vegetable or chicken curry.

Each Sri Lankan item will set you back just $2 or $2.50 and two items makes a filling lunch. "People ask for samosas but this is not food from my country," says Nageswary. "I teach Canadians about rotti. They are crazy about rotti."

Nageswary and her husband start work each day at 3am or 4am, preparing dozens of varieties of pastries and breads. Every day, Nageswary roasts chickens in the oven, which she makes into curry by combining the meat with fresh eggplant, green beans and potatoes. She puts the curry onto the freshly prepared rotti bread and finishes them up on the grill. 

In addition to the Sri Lankan food and pastries, Nageswary explained they also serve halal bread. But I realized I heard her wrong when she pulled out a loaf of braided Jewish challah bread. "My husband used to work at a Jewish bakery up on Lawrence many years ago," explained Negeswary. 

In addition to the Parliament Street location, Absolute Bakery has another cafe at 2100 Queen Street East. In the next few weeks, a third location will be opening up at Yonge & St Clair, and it will also serve French food and subcontinental snacks.

Thanks to H. for the tip. 

Absolute Bakery & Cafe is located at 589 Parliament Street just south of Wellesley; tel: 416 979 2700. Hours are 7am til 10pm every day. 

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  1. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  2. I can vouch for their mutton rolls, very tasty! There's actually another Sri Lankan restaurant right around the corner from there on Wellesley called Rashnaa, check them out some time.

  3. I work near by, looks like a great place to try one day! thanks! :)