Location: 730-17th Avenue SW (Beltline)
A few months back, when Corbeaux had only been open for a few months, I wanted to try it out. Firstly, because I love independent coffee shops and the uniqueness they bring and secondly, because the pictures of their food posted on their instagram and on Julie Van Rosendaal’s instagram accounts looked amazing. Typically, I’m a savory person who loves to bake, but coffee and bakehouses are an exception. The only time I can stand eating something sweet is if it paired with a rich, dark roast coffee or espresso. Going in at noon is probably one of the worst ideas in the world. Wait times at noon are roughly an hour. So, in other words, the first time we went, we did not get in because we were starving and didn’t want to wait an hour in the freezing Calgary cold. Today, at the suggestion of my cousin, we went later in the afternoon, which was a good idea. We got there around two and it was pretty empty. By pretty empty it meant about 20 or so patrons, but not packed so we were able to get a seat right away. The first thing I felt when I entered Corbeaux was a sense of intimidation and disorientation. I felt like it was a bit elitist, especially with the price; like it was a place I couldn’t afford to eat at, but also, the setup of the restaurant left me confused as to where I was supposed to go and order. We eventually figured out that some tables were reserved for patrons who wanted to order off their menu while other areas were for people who just wanted to get some pastries from the displays.
By this time in the day, it was so hot outside, like 26 degrees hot, so everyone with the exception of me, had an iced drink. My cousin had an iced chai, my sister had a iced latte, and I had a macchiato. The iced chai was the sweetest and the macchiato the bitterest. The chai was too sweet for my cousin and the latte too bitter for my sister so they switched. After drinking the macchiato, one tasted like water and spices and the other tasted like water and milk
The pastries we got to share were Charlotte something or another (sorry I can’t remember the name to save my life, it was French…I think), 2 macarons, a pistachio eclair, and a berry tart. Later I purchased a pistachio eclair and traditional eclair to take home with me to share with my family. The Charlotte something was like a raspberry cake with layers of cake and mousse, topped with 2 raspberries and a blueberry. It was slightly tart, but not exactly to my liking. The two macarons we got were raspberry and rose. The raspberry one suited me fine; the tartness of the filing helped to combat the sweetness of the “cookie” part. Of course, being a heavy handed bull, I crushed the thing by trying to take a bite (kinda squished and cracked it as I tried to bite into it). The rose macaron was good in the first bite, but quickly overwhelmed me with sweetness and the fragrance that is typical to flowers and the perfumes made from them. The pistachio eclair was actually ordered by my cousin and was quite delicious except for the fact that it made quite a mess due to the filling shooting out of the holes made in the eclair to pipe in the filing. The filing was phenomenal! At the time I found it a little too sweet, but again, that’s why it’s being paired with a macchiato, not an iced latte or chai. The final one, the berry tart was by far my favourite. In recent years, fruit tarts have become my favourite dessert because of their lightness. This tart consisted solely of blueberries glazed and accented with small balls of white chocolate on a bed of creamy custard (another favourite thing of mine). The berries were fresh and the glaze was really sticky. I touched it with my fork and the berries stuck, refusing to let go. The tart shell was so incredibly hard I had to stab it with the intent to kill in order to break it. Though I was annoyed that I required that much force to break it, I can understand why I would need to. If it had been softer, it would not have been able to support the weight of the berries and would have become a soggy mess under the custard filling. I have yet to try the traditional eclair, but having tasted the pistachio one, I’m pretty sure I won’t be disappointed. The traditional eclair is topped with gold leaf!
The service was okay. The waitresses/staff didn’t really try to help us out when we were bumbling around like confused idiots, but probably because that’s not their jobs anyway. I did feel bad for the lady who rang through our order the first time because we were so scattered and distracted by everything that was going on that I didn’t really pay too much attention to her when she asked me questions in regards to my order. Also, staying out of people’s way…that can be quite a challenge. Next time I’ll just flatten myself against the wall and stay there until my order is ready.
Though expensive, I would most certainly return to Corbeaux. Of course I could not afford to come back everyday, but will return in the near future to try out their lemon tart at the suggestion of an acquaintance. Next time I’d also like to try some of the food off their breakfast, lunch, or dinner menu. But for now, I’ll give it a rating of 4.25/5.