Brocante Baleze

Brocante Balèze
2116 rue de Bleury
Montreal, QC

2 out of 10

I’m sorry, but when I want to be treated poorly, I’ll become a telemarketer. I certainly won’t walk into a café I’ve been curious about for weeks and try to cause trouble. I swear I don’t even know how to make trouble. I know how to be an inconvenience because of my intolerance of lactose, but that doesn’t justify rude treatment. I’m a potential customer, and those need to be treated with respect.

This had always looked like such a cute cafe, and having found no reviews of it online, I figured it was time to check it out myself. I wasn’t hungry, just curious. There was a grand total of five people in the restaurant, so it certainly didn’t appear busy, and I felt it would probably be okay to ask a few questions. I walked into Cafe Baleze and stared in awe at the stunningly beautiful desserts.

There was a selection of marzipan fruit, or I assume that’s what they were, a wide selection of Middle-Eastern style baklava (less syrupy than Greek versions), a home made chocolate layer cake (your guess is as good as mine what was in it, but you could tell it didn’t come from the Cheesecake Factory by the simple icing style), and a fresh dessert loaf of some sort, properly wrapped in plastic to let the flavours combine as it sat waiting to be desired.

I didn’t ask the cook/owner to come out of the kitchen, where he was obviously busy, but the girl at the counter pulled him when she didn’t have the answers to my inquiries. Once distracted, he apparently thought my questions about who made the desserts and what was in them were inappropriate. At a cafe? Really?

Maybe my first mistake was asking in English, but the people who had just been served at the counter were all English, and I couldn’t yet hear the French accent of the counter server. She didn’t know where the cake came from, she said, it was a friend of the cook. She didn’t know what kind of loaf it was, and quickly asked if I would like to talk to the chef. You always talk to the chef if you can. You get the best information and the most interesting conversations that way. “I’ll smile and be polite because I know he’s busy and stepping out of his kitchen just to satisfy my curiosty”, I actually thought.

No amunt of smiling got the sharp resentment out of this man. I even switched to French because the server spoke to him in French. “They’re not from a company,” he bellowed, and tried to move back toward the kitchen, despite my apparent follow-up question. They’re home made? Yes! You don’t get cake like that from stores. Yes, I see. What kind of cake is it? (Mumble of anger). Sorry, what did you say? “You could try a piece” (Not the nice kind of offer…More the “stop asking me questions, annoying girl, and buy a piece of cake so you leave me alone). “Unfortunately I can’t eat milk or cream or butter. I’m lactose-intolerant”. “No milk in the pastries,” he says…right…but LOTS of butter. You can get phyllo pastry made from vegetable oil but I didn’t get to ask that question before he stormed back into the kitchen. I tried to say a meek thanks, but he certainly didn’t hear it through the thick cloud of irritation that muted the sound of my voice around his head. Well I certainly wasn’t going to have a piece of cake or pastry and get sick if I don’t respect the place that served me the cake. Why would I want to support that kind of cafe?

So I left…and thought about this experience for the next hour while I had errands to run. On my way back I had to pass the cafe again, and I had debated on my walk between never stepping foot in there again, or intentionally going back in to ask more questions, to give the cafe a second chance.

Well I’m a sucker for second chances apparently. It was after lunch now and, again, the cafe was not busy. I wanted to ask about the sandwiches and soup. The sandwich was grilled chicken with pesto. Pesto with cheese? No. Pesto with…? No parmesan? “No cheese” was all I got. The soup, then. What kind of soup? Vegetable puree. Was the broth home made? Yes. No powders or cubes? No, made here, I’m not lying (as if I didn’t believe her). I saw the cook peering out from the kitchen angrily at me.

“Okay, thanks…” I said. I didn’t exactly feel welcome. At least I escaped un-yelled at…

Well, no, actually. He yelled from the kitchen that you turn the top knob of the door to get out. Translation: “Get out!” Really, in French or English, I could tell he disliked me, and I’d had enough.

So if you go to this place and have a great time let me know. The food could be good, but this man is a modern-day soup nazi. I didn’t have the heart to try the sandwich or soup. It was certainly not made with love. I would have gotten an answer to what was in the bread, but it was not worth the trouble (See, I avoid conflict. How very Canadian of me). The soup may have been nice, but I couldn’t ask if there was dairy in it (Avoid, avoid). And the desserts looked spectacular, but there’s certainly no ingredient list and the cook doesn’t seem to know or care what’s in them. They just look pretty. At least 3 people had eaten a piece of the layer cake, so at least I know that’s really edible, not just a pretty display that no one actually buys because the cook just yells at you when you ask anything about it. I wish I could favourably review the baklava, but no, I don’t trust it to be dairy-free. If I don’t know the origins of my food I don’t like to eat it. Too bad.

This is certainly not how to treat clients when you’re in the food service industry. I hope he was having a horrible (Yes, I hope), because at least then he has some excuse for his unacceptable behavior.

Expect to Pay: With your self-esteem


  1. (Kat) says

    I have been there a couple of time. We always tried the various couscous (vegetarian, chicken, merguez) we like but find quite expensive (about $13 for a plate).
    Today we tried their salmon pancakes: expensive as well (about $11) but very disappointing: poor taste, thin filling, dry pancake…
    When the server asked us if it was good, I told him the truth and he just replied "ah".

    The place is nice, the place is quiet, but it's definitely too expensive for the ordinary food you get.

  2. (MissWatson) says

    As much as I have mixed feelings toward this place I'm sorry to hear their food isn't amazing. I feel like if they're going to rude they should at least have something great to back it up.

    Thanks for the info. It's also possible it was just a one-off special that they were trying and it just flopped? Specials are tricky like that. Maybe I'm just too forgiving.

    Maybe it's poor customer service karma

  3. (Kat) says

    Indeed it is possible — however those salted pancakes have been displayed for a while: besides the recipe that needs improvements, it wasn't generous and I was hungry after three hours…

    Let's forget my pancakes: the prices remain too high for basic dishes.

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