The second location of Thierry, celebrated purveyor of artisanal chocolates and decadent pastries, is nearing the end of construction at 265 East 10th Avenue.
Walking around Mt. Pleasant earlier this week I started to muse as to whether or not the neighbourhood was aware of what to expect when Thierry Busset and the Toptable Group finally open their 6,000 sqft chocolate and pastry-producing wonderland in its heart this November. The area has seen its fair share of change and development in recent years, but how would it respond when Willy Wonka opened a chocolate factory in its midst?
Ravenously, I bet. And for good reason. Monsieur Busset is something of a legend in Canadian gastronomy. Having trained in his native France, toiled at Michelin-starred restaurants under the likes of Marco Pierre White and both Albert Roux and Michel Roux Jr., he made a massive impact on Vancouver’s relationship with dessert when he joined Toptable at the turn of the millennium, first at West Restaurant and later at CinCin. I first spooned through a few of his creations on the night before my wedding day in 2001, closing out a meal that I still consider one of the best I’ve ever had.
And since it launched in 2010, I’ve felt compelled to visit his original store on Alberni Street every time I’ve found myself on the block. Why? Because nothing is mediocre there. Everything is excellent, from the chocolates and macarons to the little quiche “Lorraine” and flaky viennoise specialties. Even the coffee (a special blend designed in collaboration with 49th Parallel) is undeniably superb. The guy just doesn’t tolerate anything less than top tier. But don’t take my word for it. According to Gordon Ramsay, Thierry is “one of the finest pastry chefs in the world.”
So…lucky you, Mt. Pleasant.
I was musing as much because I’d just been given the nickel tour of the construction site, which looked to be coming together rapidly. Situated on the short, bike-laned block between Main Street and Kingsway, the huge space is somewhat removed from the surrounding bustle, which makes me think it has room enough to create a bustle of its own. The 60-seat front of house shares the same aesthetic DNA as the original Thierry, which is to say high end materials, dark palm wood, cabinetry galore, fancy display cases, subtle branding touches, hard edges, effective use of mirrors and chrome, gentle curves, and iconic palm wood doors. But that only accounts for about one fifth of the space; the rest is given up behind the scenes to temperature controlled storage, test kitchens and packaging rooms, some of which will be visible to guests through glass.
I don’t know if we’ll be able to see Thierry’s newest toys in action, like the Selmi Tun 300 Enrobing Cooling Tunnel, which will allow the company to “dramatically expand” their chocolate production. Nor do I know if the four new chocolate tempering machines will be visible to the public as they produce new milk chocolate and seasonal white chocolate treats. Personally, I prefer the mystery. For certain, customers will be able to look directly into the packaging room, so we’ll be able to view all kinds of dreamy things on their last turn before their delicious journeys end in our mouths.
Again, we’re still about a month and a half away from opening day, but…I can assure you it’s real. It’s happening, and though Covid may have interrupted our lives considerably these past many months it’s good to have something this special to look forward to. I like to think we deserve it given all the grief and uncertainty we’ve endured.
Take a closer look inside…