Back in Montreal from Paris a few years back, I started scouting for shops carrying imported goods from Europe or any new bakery that might serve the luscious custard dessert, but to no avail.
At last! Just this past Spring a new Gourmet Belge pastry shop (from the Pâtisserie Belge chain) opened up right downtown offering breads, sandwiches, brioches and pastries that I haven't seen since my youth in France! I was quite excited to see some familiar sweets such as the gâteau aux riz, the Paris Brest, and of course, the Flan Patissier (aka custard flan). In France, I remember the custard having a subtle creamy texture and firmness combined with a delicate sweetness and served in a nice thin unsweetened short crust, also known as pâte brisée. These traits of the 'perfect' custard flan, perfect in my book, became criterias for me to finding a flan in Montreal with similar attributes. Much to my disappointment, the Flan Patissier from Gourmet Belge was a little on the sweeter side, a little too firm, not creamy with a crust being also too sweet and too hard. The pieces are large enough to serve two people which is too much. From that day, my perception of Gourmet Belge has gone down quite a lot. The service is also left to be desired. The staff is very cold, very hard to approach - without a care in the world to make a customer feel welcomed. I'm not the only one having made that remark, but quite a few of my colleagues have expressed the same impression. Granted, there are no tables nor chairs to sit and eat, but I don't remember ever seeing line-ups to this joint mornings or evenings. It looks neglected. If that new shop wishes to remain open, they have got to change not only the quality of their service, but also the quality of some of their goods. Right now, Gourmet Belge is not much of a gourmet but a misrepresentation of Belgian pâtisserie, which is renowned worldwide for its daintiness, intricacy and appetizing presentation and taste.
Enough said about that place and moving on to my hunt for the best Flan Pâtissier in Montreal. Mind you, I haven't gone too far off from the downtown area of Montreal to really explore all of the pâtisseries in Montreal, due to my limited time during lunch. I have, however, found the 'absolutely perfect' Flan Pâtissier right downtown at Place Ville Marie, in a French country-style decorated cantine/bakery called Brioche Dorée. Brioche Dorée is a chain, but it didn't matter. What mattered was their flan. It is creamy, springy and lightly dense, indicating that it's freshly baked, served on an unsweetened short crust. The best part is that it's not too sweet, just the way I like it. The funny thing about this is that I've been to that place almost a hundred times and have only noticed their desserts just this summer. Perhaps they only recently introduced the Flan Pâtissier, or perhaps I was not on the lookout for custard flan. Surely, there are many good pâtisseries here in Montreal, one of which is Pâtisserie de Gascogne, offering sophisticated and high quality pastries, but rarely do they carry the simple Flan Pâtissier. I guess custard isn't a popular dessert here on the island. Regardless, I have found its abode and am quite pleased with it. It sends me years away into nostalgia.
To foodies out there, where have you tasted the best Flan Pâtissier? I would love to know and hear about it, in case I do travel around your area!