During my last visit to the city, I didn't have the chance to try a peameal bacon sandwich anywhere other than at Carousel, but from what I tasted, I didn't need to. The no-frills foodie tradition, as interpreted by Carousel, is served on a Portuguese bun-- soft and doughy on the inside, nice and crusty on the outside -- filled with three to four slices of fried back bacon glistening against the crushed yellow peas visible on the edges of each piece. No tomatoes, no lettuce. No onions. Just bacon.
Some purists, including as instructed by one of Steam Whistle Brewery's friendly staffers, advise peameal bacon sandwich virgins first experience it without any mustard. So I got a side order of old-style mustard (the kind with visible grains) mixed with maple syrup and horseradish, as recommended by Carousel Bakery co-owner Robert Biancolin. Note that if staff give you the honey mustard packet instead, give it back and insist on the "amazing maple" mustard.
Verdict? While I enjoyed the moist, juicy, condiment-free first bites, my taste buds wanted an extra kick, and that maple mustard brought the sandwich to new heights with the maple sweetening the palate and the horseradish shooting through the nose. Even a day old (I saved half for later), Carousel Bakery's peameal bacon sandwich is fantastic.
But is the peameal bacon sandwich the only offering at Carousel Bakery worthy of hogging the spotlight?
The Butter Tarts
When I asked Biancolin what else a first-time customer should try when passing by, he dashed to the butter tarts, eying the ones topped with chocolate. Sounds excessive? It is. I was concerned, convinced it would be too much for me, but Biancolin knew me better than myself as I spent a few moments in munchie heaven, unexpectedly preferring it to a standard tart.
Hogtownites take note. Carousel Bakery is where you want to get your Montreal style bagels in Toronto. These babies are so close to the real thing, any closer would require a daily import of Montreal water to make them indistinguishable from their hometown comrades. Which they very well might be from what I gathered, lacking a blind taste test to make a proper comparison in real time. The gentleman who exclusively supplies Carousel Bakery with these authentic, holed delights boasts a decade of experience working at St. Viateur Bagel, one of Montreal's two top bagel-makers. Best time to buy your bagels at Carousel? Fridays and Saturdays, the only days they're delivered. At least for now.
In line with About.com's and the New York Times Company's full disclosure policy, readers should be aware that Evelyn Reid was provided with complimentary food for review purposes, a common procedure in the publishing industry. Also note that the latter gratuities have not influenced this review. For more information on full disclosure at About.com, please consult our ethics policy.