Saturday, March 30, 2013

Art is in the Bakery in an Industrial Complex in the City Centre?

This afternoon my wife and I decided to go on a bit of an adventure to just to the west side of downtown Ottawa to investigate Art is in Bakery (250 City Centre Avenue, Ottawa) which is an Ottawa landmark amongst foodies especially for those enjoying the bakery cuisine.

Adventure? Yes, Art Is In Bakery (also known as Art Is In Boulangerie)  opened in 2010 in the current new location in an industrial plaza, bordering the O-Train tracks, where they have become well known for their breads and other baked goods. The Ottawa Magazine covered the opening and reviewed it.  As well the bakery does well on rankings (#11 in Ottawa) and the bakery has recently made the news with the announcement it will slow it's wholesale operation to concentrate on the retail side.   Yes, to run a retail operation out of a industrial plaza complete with walk up loading dock. Sounds weird and it is especially if you don't drive.

Getting there via public transit is interesting to say the least.  We took the OC Transpo through downtown to the Bayview Transitway Station. Now the fun part is if you are on the westbound side (north side of the Transitway) of Bayview Station you have to walk down the path to the O-Train tracks and back up to the eastbound Transitway platform then to the traffic light to cross Albert Street.  All of this just to exit the Bayview Station and get into the neighbourhood.  From there it is a short walk eastwards to City Centre Drive which has housing on the eastside and a large industrial complex on the westside that houses the bakery.  The main problem with this industrial complex is that sure it can be quiet on the weekend but the other businesses probably have large trucks coming and going during the week making approaching the Art Is In Bakery a little troublesome.

Once the front door is open though you are  welcomed by a front concrete warehouse floor busily full of tables brimming with people enjoying lunch at with the service counter running down the left.  The counter has a coffee machine, two cash registers as well as a counter and display case showing the days newly baked items brought out from the back.

We perused the display case and counter to investigate what to get.  We decided and then waited patiently for the single customer ahead of us to place our order.

The Order: 2 Hot Cross buns and a shortbread Easter Bunny Cookie.

Hot Cross Bun from Art Is In Bakery
We paid $7.07 for everything and left.  The breakdown was $1.75 each for the Hot Cross Bun and $3.00 for the drizzled chocolate covered shortbread cookie.  We couldn't believe the cookie was so expensive while the Hot Cross Bun seemed quite reasonable.   This brings up an issue my wife pointed out after we had left.  No prices were posted next to the newly baked items on the counter for customers to know how much an item is before buying it.  The only thing I asked the price of was the Hot Cross Buns and the employee had to type it into the cash register to find out it was $1.75 each.  The only prices posted, on large chalkboards hanging above,  are for the breads and sandwiches.  Nowhere to be found was the daily baked items pricing.  

The Hot Cross buns were perfect sweet tasting yet moist. The only downfall was I forgot to pick up a cup of tea or coffee to go with it.  Service wise the only quibble was they were not offered to be quickly heated to make them even better.  Warming them would have resolved the issue of the buns being made that morning and sitting until the afternoon for my purchase.  Minor quibble really, but to get the best out of the Hot Cross Buns they need to be warmed.  

The shortbread cookie was exquisite except for the before mentioned price.  The chocolate complimented the traditional dry shortbread very well.  The only problem was we never ordered a liquid either to go with the cookie. 

Overall, Art Is In Bakery is traditional bakery located an interesting location within an industrial location on a street called "City Centre Avenue".  With a name like "City Centre Avenue" it would be figured that the bakery would be downtown Ottawa within a hop from Parliament Hill.  Not so, it is located west of downtown and not even close to "City Centre" as most Ottawans would know it.  The food is top quality based on the reviews, photos I've seen as well as the couple of baked goods we had this afternoon to snack on.  Getting there can be tricky if you don't drive but hopefully will get easier as the lands around the Bayview Station and the O-Train tracks grows and matures.  Thus, Art Is In bakery may become part of a new city centre based around an industrial complex.

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