First Look: Roselle Desserts opens in Corktown


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Banana Cream Pie Eclairs are one of the hits from Roselle’s pastry case.

Image: Suresh Doss

Lovers of high-technique desserts have a new place to visit in Corktown.  Roselle Desserts is owned and operated by two George Brown grads, Stephanie Duong and Bruce Lee and opened in late February. They specialize in cakes, caramels and crepes.

“I make everything in house, all the desserts are mine,” Duong says. 


IMAGE: SURESH DOSS

 

After graduating from George Brown (Duong was in the pastry program, Lee was in culinary arts), the couple found themselves working in France at Restaurant Régis et Jacque Marcon.  After a year in France, the duo worked in Hong Kong at another pair of Michelin-starred restaurants. Most notably, Duong spent some time cooking at L’Atelier de Joël Robuchon.

"We chose Hong Kong,” Duong says, “for many reasons, the main allure being that it's just such an exciting culinary mecca. There is such a vibrant food scene there ranging from little “dai pai dongs” (street food stalls) that serve delicious grub for under $3 Canadian to three-Michelin-star restaurants. I thought originally that I wanted to learn more about Chinese-style desserts like custard egg tarts and red bean buns, but ended up landing a job at Robuchon within my first week there. The allure of French pastry was just too strong." 


Image: Suresh Doss

 

Once back in Toronto, Duong and Lee settled on a small café space (under a dozen seats) on the King East strip, just east of Parliament. The area has undergone some change recently. Tandem Coffee opened up shop 8 months ago, Jamie Kennedy’s Gilead Café recently went up for sale and The Corktown Kitchen is set to open this month in the former Weezie’s space. 


IMAGE: SURESH DOSS

 

Many of the desserts in the glass case at Roselle resemble the high-technique creations at Robuchon’s tea lounge, Salon de Thé.  There’s a banana cream pie éclair ($7), already a very popular item, which has Valrhona white chocolate, vanilla bean custard and caramelized rum bananas.  The Turtle Tart ($7) features almond shortbread crust, Valrhona milk chocolate, candied pecans and salted caramel. Another hit, Earl Grey cake ($7.50) matches tea-flavoured mousse with toasted cream and milk chocolate shards.


IMAGE: SURESH DOSS

 

Their crepe menu features a rotating selection of sweet toppings (fruits) and spreads (custard, nutella). They're working on adding savoury, buckwheat crepes as a lunch option.


Image: Suresh Doss

 

“We want people to remember us for our sweets. We’re not really a viennoiserie,” Duong said.

Don’t expect flavoured croissants and doughnuts at the shop. Duong and Lee clearly want to focus on refined desserts and sweets. An assortment of packaged caramels, coconut crisps and “shorties” are also available at the café. 


IMAGE: SURESH DOSS

 

To complement the sweets, a small but carefully curated selection of teas is available from local tea blenders Pluck Teas. Lee is currently buying coffee from the Detour Coffee for their French press service.

In the spring, Duong and Lee plan to introduce a light lunch menu of soups, salads and sandwiches for those who want to picnic outdoors. Also, Duong is planning more desserts. “Molten lava cakes, flambeed crepes, maybe even the souffles I learned to make at Robuchon,” she elaborates. “We want to keep things fun and approachable.  Our goal has always been to create a place that we'd want to eat at ourselves."

Roselle Desserts, 362 King St. E., 416-368-8188

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