Hof Kelsten

12 Dec

Over the past few months, I had heard plenty about a bakery right on the edge of Mile End. A place started by a chef who, turns out, sells bread to many of the best restaurants in the city – Joe Beef, Toqué! and Nora Gray to name a few – something that I had never known and that completely blew my mind. The fact that all of these places look to Chef Jeff Finklestein for bread speaks volume about the quality of his product. His new bakery Hof Kelsten now allows us common folk to get a fresh loaf for ourselves.

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Hof Kelsten is located just off the corner of Saint-Laurent and Mont Royal in what I recalled being an old super club Videotron which was confirmed when I noticed that the overnight return slot in still present with the sticker above it. There is no sign outside and the interior is relatively sparse – unfinished wood counters, a white tile wall, concrete floor and a few spot to sit down. The only indication of the name is the green fluorescent lights shaped into Hof Kelsten above the counter. Behind the bread wall, you can see the large kitchen where all the work is done.

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Hof Kelsten offers a variety of bread and pastries with a few weekly specials such as Challah only available on Fridays. For my initial visit, I went with a loaf of their sourdough. Now I love sourdough bread – it is pretty much the only bread I eat when in the States as it is readily available there. I have never been able to find good sourdough to bring home here until now. This bread was great – beautiful crust, great flavour and perfect texture. I finally have sourdough bread in Montreal. Thank the heavens!

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For the bread alone, I will be coming back quite often from here on out but there is even more. They also have a sandwich menu and a number of other items with a strong Jewish influence. Grabbing lunch, I went with the brisket sandwich with a half portion of Matzo ball soup and some latkes. The brisket is served warm with sliced apples, red cabbage and beet slaw with what appeared to be a homemade thousand island dressing all on the house rye. Just a wonderful sandwich. I never would have thought of apples and thousand island dressing with brisket but the combination works extremely well.

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The Matzo soup was wonderful as well – great depth of flavour in the stock (and surprisingly not as salty as I expected), generous amount of chicken and vegetables in the soup and the matzo balls themselves were great. A perfect addition on a cold December as it was.

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The last item was the latkes – quite large individually. Great crust on them while maintaining a nice texture inside. The surprising plus was the dipping sauce – a nice sweet addition that offset the lack of actual apple sauce to use instead (Note that I’ve always been a apple sauce over sour cream guy).

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All in all, Hof Kelsten is a great bakery that lived up to all the praise I’ve heard and then some. The fact that I am only a quick bike or drive (or longish walk) away means that I have found my new “neighbourhood” bakery. Getting restaurant caliber bread on a weekly basis will be a beautiful thing and something that everyone near and far should run over for as quickly as they can.

Cheers!

Hof Kelsten
4524 Saint-Laurent

Hof Kelsten on Urbanspoon

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