What’s on the menu at Emmer, a new bakery in Harbord Village that was three years in the making
Contact: 161 Harbord St., @emmertoronto
Neighbourhood: Harbord Village
Owners: Philip Haddad and Mark Lash
Chef: Philip Haddad
Outdoor seating: None yet. Look out for an outdoor patio when it’s safe to open.
COVID-19 safety measures: Social distancing, mandatory mask policy for patrons and staff, frequent sanitization.
Accessibility: Storefront is accessible, washrooms are upstairs.
Philip Haddad—part prosthodontist, part ultra-passionate baker—first garnered a serious following in 2018 when he sold perfect loaves of sourdough via Instagram. Since then, his baked goods have been available at Donna’s in the Wallace-Emerson neighbourhood. Along the way, he’s hinted at a bricks-and-mortar bakery. Emmer—three years in the making now—finally opened this month in Harbord Village, complete with snaking (but socially distanced) lines and much fanfare. Sourdough, brioche and croissants—both sweet and savoury—are Emmer’s literal bread and butter, but the opening of patio season will also bring a lunch and dinner menu (the details of which are on lockdown for now). There’s a rotating selection of toasts and sandwiches, like an egg and brioche breakfast bun. It’s made with house-fermented crème fraîche, egg yolk and gobs of Gruyere.
There’s a strong focus on seasonality here—that brioche bun we mentioned recently included ramps and speck. Another seasonal feature: a chocolate croissant made with deep-purple chocolate sourced from Soma. “We’re offering croissants and cookies specifically matched to their chocolate,” says Haddad. “It’s a little unusual to use such high-end chocolate in baked goods, but it’s just so amazing.” The bakery is open from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., but you don’t need to line up first thing in the morning to get your hands on the goods. Different items are for sale throughout the day—like the the ham and cheese baguette, which doesn’t appear until 11 a.m.
There are espresso-based coffees with all the alt milks you could want; this weekend, they’ll start serving iced beverages. In a couple of weeks, Emmer will offer teas from London’s Rare Tea company—one of the few places in Canada to do so. There’s a small wine list that’s set to expand with the opening of the patio, as well as a selection of both artisanal and classic sodas.
What Emmer lacks in size it makes up for in vibes, with ultra-friendly staff and a warm, bustling environment. The bakers aren’t hidden in a backroom kitchen—they do their work right behind the counter. “You’ll see things come right out of the oven, hear the machine steaming the bread, see us shaping, dividing, fermenting—we’re right there,” says Haddad. The patio will seat about 70 (fewer at first because of social distancing), and in the coming year, we’re likely to see the opening of Ash, the dine-in restaurant upstairs. Keep an eye on Emmer’s socials for the scoop.