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Cheskie's Bakery

359 Bernard West, Montreal, QB, XX - (514) 271-2253
Posted By Michael Stern on 5/17/2006 4:20:00 AM
The ultimate babka used to be our Holy Grail. Every one was dry or drippy, too chocolaty or not chocolaty enough, oversweet or underweight, excessively cakelike or a dolled-up loaf of bread. Then we went to Cheskie Heimishe Bakery in the old Jewish neighborhood of Montreal, known as Mile End, and found what we had been looking for.

We almost didn't notice the babka because we were so entranced by a pair of Cheskie's poppy-seed ruggelah, which we devoured before the counter girl was able to ring up a sale and give us change. But when we saw the babka on a back shelf, even the ruggelah lost its hold. Huge and heavy, it is as intricate as a mille feuille pastry, countless microthin layers of soft dough ribboned with strata of profound chocolate. There is no place to sit and eat at Cheskie's, so we bought half a loaf and carried it around the corner to the Olimpico coffee bar, ordered cups of first-class espresso streaked with foam, and plotzed with the pleasure of an ad hoc breakfast.

(Olimpico is located at 124 St-Viateur. 514-495-0746.)

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Scorecard

5 - Overall: Legendary - Worth driving from anyplace
Overall: Legendary - Worth driving from anyplace
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If you hate chocolate, don't get Cheskie's babka. It's veined with it to the max. A whole one is a mighty hefty brick. Even a half, which we brought to the nearby espresso shop, was more than enough to make breakfast for two.
"If you hate chocolate, don't get Cheskie's babka. It's veined with it to the max. A whole one is a mighty hefty brick. Even a half, which we brought to the nearby espresso shop, was more than enough to make breakfast for two."
Michael Stern





Gooey, sticky, moist, sweet and immensely satisfying, these fruit and poppy-seed ruggelah are one of coffee's great companions.
"Gooey, sticky, moist, sweet and immensely satisfying, these fruit and poppy-seed ruggelah are one of coffee's great companions."
Michael Stern


Of the many kinds of ruggelah Cheskie's makes, we like cinnamon the best.
"Of the many kinds of ruggelah Cheskie's makes, we like cinnamon the best."
Michael Stern


Cheskie's bakery is indeed heimishe, which is a hard-to-translate Yiddish word that means friendly, kind and accommodating.
"Cheskie's bakery is indeed heimishe, which is a hard-to-translate Yiddish word that means friendly, kind and accommodating. "
Michael Stern


A doppio – double-shot of espresso – at Cafe Olimpico was just the right beverage to accompany the chocolate babka we brought from Cheskie's.
"A doppio – double-shot of espresso – at Cafe Olimpico was just the right beverage to accompany the chocolate babka we brought from Cheskie's."
Michael Stern


The barristas at Olimpico around the corner from Cheskie's are masters of their art. It is a morning's entertainment to sip espressos at the counter and watch them work.
"The barristas at Olimpico around the corner from Cheskie's are masters of their art. It is a morning's entertainment to sip espressos at the counter and watch them work."
Michael Stern


A neighborhood coffee house in its fourth decade, Olimpico has regulars we saw every morning we stopped in for a full week.
"A neighborhood coffee house in its fourth decade, Olimpico has regulars we saw every morning we stopped in for a full week."
Michael Stern



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