Bon Ton Bakery is revered for being one of the oldest and most established bakeries in Edmonton, having been open in the city's west end since 1956. For almost 60 years, customers have flocked to the bakery for the wide variety of artisan breads and European-style pastries on offer.
After our lunch at Ichiban, we walked to the end of the strip mall to Bon Ton to pick up a few goodies. By few, I mean seven. Yes, seven cakes and pastries. My mom and I clearly have eyes bigger than our stomachs. But hey, we needed to make the drive out worth it.
It's surprising that I've actually never been to Bon Ton before, considering my affinity for desserts and sweets. But after being gifted with two small cakes from Bon Ton on my birthday last year (thanks GY!), I knew I had to check them out for myself. It only took me... 6 months.
Stepping in, the bakery is large and spacious, with display cabinets galore. Cash registers separate the bakery into two, with cakes, cookies, and pastries on one side and breads, muffins, and croissants on the other. Around the perimeter of the bakery, one can find an assortment of gourmet pantry staples such as dips, sauces, jams, crackers, and much more. Since their renovations (both outside and inside), Bon Ton has also began selling coffee and a selection of sandwiches curated by local chef Paul Shufelt, of Workshop Eatery and (previously) Century Hospitality Group fame.
With so many tempting choices, it took a good while for my mom and I to pick what we wanted without going (too) overboard. We ended up with a pretty varied selection, as you'll see below.
First off, a salted caramel eclair ($4.95): choux pastry filled with salted caramel cream, topped with a caramel glaze. The Duchess Bakeshop makes a pretty life-changing salted caramel éclair, but unfortunately, it was only a feature flavour during the month of January. Because its return is indefinite, I tried to find consolation with Bon Ton's rendition. The two definitely looked similar, but I found Bon Ton's version a bit more watered down. It certainly would've benefited from an extra touch of salt to contrast the sweet caramel flavour.
The pistachio dacquoise ($5.50) was one of my mom's picks. This featured layers of pistachio sponge cake, pistachio dacquoise, chocolate ganache, and pistachio buttercream. Basically pistachio overload. While I do like the actual nut itself, I'm not particularly fond of pistachio flavouring/extract that they use in cakes and ice cream. If you do, then this cake is for you.
Another item that we chose was the vanilla mille-feuille ($5.50). I believe they also do one in hazelnut, but it wasn't available on our visit. Mille-feuille, translated to English, means a thousand leaves, referring to the layers of puff pastry sandwiching the custard cream filling. The top is glazed with a marbled caramel fondant, and the sides pressed with broken flecks of puff pastry. Out of all the cakes that we bought, this was probably my favourite. Though it wasn't flaky, the puff pastry surprisingly stayed crisp and firm. The vanilla custard also wasn't too sweet. In fact, it was quite mild which allowed the caramel fondant to shine.
The hazelnut mignon slice ($4.95) was chosen with my chocoholic sister in mind. Layers of hazelnut sponge, hazelnut butter cream, and hazelnut ganache. It tasted like ferrero rocher in cake form: rich and decadent. Personally I couldn't see myself having more than a bite or two.
The raspberry white chocolate cake ($4.50) was another pretty layered confection with vanilla sponge and raspberry buttercream, enrobed in white chocolate ganache. It was a lighter cake, with subtle raspberry flavour. I felt like the cake, similar to the one above, was on the drier side, and the raspberry buttercream a bit too stiff.
The lemon slice ($3.95) fared a bit better in that the chiffon sponge cake was lighter and fluffier. It was also helped along by the sweet lemon buttercream and tart house-made lemon curd.
Continuing with the lemon theme, the last dessert we picked out was the tarte citron meringue ($5.95), which is their classic lemon tart with a toasted meringue topping. Again, the house-made lemon curd was both sweet and tangy, but I found the actual tart shell to be a bit hard.
I'd have to come back to try out their boulangerie side, but I'd say what differentiates Bon Ton Bakery from other bakeries is their sheer production value. The display cabinets are full and the selection is plenty. I'm convinced that their breads are made fresh everyday, but when it comes to their cakes and pastries, that's where I get a little skeptical. While they were good for the most part, I don't doubt that some of them are sitting around for more than a day or two, which accounts for them being slightly dry. It's hardly a criticism, but with Duchess Bakeshop 10ish minutes away, I'm sure they could do better.