Life

The Edible Art of Ottawa’s Tartelette Bakery

A buttery, shell-shaped base cradling swirls of milky mousse or teeming cream, decorously anointed with gleaming fruit.

 

Envision it hand-made, passionately concocted by dedicated artisans, applying time-tested baking methods to quality, premium ingredients. You’re enjoying this scratch delicacy in the company of family or friends, comfortably settled in an intimate, ivory environment perfumed by freshly brewed coffee. Or maybe you’re savouring it outdoors on a sun-dappled day, as if part of some magical European tableau the Impressionists might have painted. 

Believe it or not, the complete experience—the food, the ambiance, the camaraderie—can be had right here in Ottawa, at a shining culinary jewel that is the centrepiece of Old Ottawa East, the latest neighbourhood in the throes of cultural revival. 

 

Venture to 175 Main St. and there it is, bordering a newly established residential community known as Greystone Village. You’ll feel like a fashionable flaneur as you follow the seductive waft of painstakingly prepared pastries and European-style caffeine through the doors of this quaint, classy establishment, named after the shining star of its imminently edible ensemble of eats: Tartelette Bakery & Cafe

 

Tartelette opened its doors in June of 2023. The vision for this popular café had come to owner-operator Sanaz Homa ten years earlier. Back then, she was a respected software engineer, but she longed to pursue another passion. It was an interest that resided in her DNA; her grandfather had been a pastry chef and her father had worked in the food industry. Following in their footsteps, she enrolled in Ottawa’s prestigious Cordon Bleu cooking school in the heart of scenic Sandy Hill. There, she began detailing the bakery she hoped to establish upon graduation. 

Sanaz Homa, the visionary owner of Tartelette Bakery & Cafe, transformed her lifelong passion into a beloved café in June 2023.

 

She meticulously considered every nuance: the design, the décor, the delicacies. After a long and challenging construction period, Tartelette opened its doors to an unsuspecting public. The business’ first customers were the nearby condo owners, instructors and students from the adjacent St. Paul’s University, and the regulars at that vegetarian pillar The Green Door, looking to top their meal with an intriguing, fanciful dessert. It didn’t take long for word of the atmospheric and gastronomic richness of the place to venture beyond the neighbourhood’s borders. Today, Tartelette enjoys a demographic as eclectic as the assortment of artisanal pastries in its display cases, eye-opening windows on fruity tarts, creamy cheesecakes, and chewy cookies.

 

 

The appreciative people of Ottawa, in fact, were as much a part of Homa’s inspiration as the notion to honour her family tradition. “Ottawa has a vibrant culinary scene and reputation for excellence in hospitality,” she says. “The decision to open my first business here was a natural progression, driven by the city’s welcoming atmosphere and thriving community.”

What sets Tartelette apart is its unwavering dedication to authenticity and craftsmanship. Explains Homa, “We pride ourselves on using traditional French baking techniques combined with locally sourced, high-quality ingredients. That’s how we create delectable pastries that tantalize the taste buds and leave a lasting impression on our customers.”

 

Homa’s clientele also makes for a willing test audience. While this busy boutique bakery features many regular items, Homa and her staff pride themselves on innovation, often pioneering pastries that establish international precedents. So far, these exquisite experiments have included Giant Croissants, Giant Pain au Chocolats, and Crookies (croissants filled with cookie dough). Homa’s personal creations reflect her Iranian roots; she creatively fuses the Parisian with the Persian, integrating such ingredients as saffron and rosewater. The result is such delicious, cross-cultural delights such as the Shirazi Tart and Shirazi Cheesecake.

 

For the purists, there’s a variety of flaky Viennoiserie (croissants, turnovers, and scones), baguettes and loaves (white, whole grain, and country), and a selection of go-to sandwiches (turkey-bacon, egg, grilled cheese).

 

 

Small wonder that earlier this year, Tartelette was voted Best Bakery in FACES’ 2024 Ottawa Awards. “It was a tremendous honour,” says Homa, “and a testament to the hard work and dedication of our team. This milestone serves as motivation to continue pushing the boundaries of excellence and delivering unparalleled culinary experiences to our customers.”

 

 

As for the future, the unstoppably enterprising, devoutly innovative Homa has already been visited by the kind of vision that inspired her to establish Tartelette. “For now, we are focused on further elevating the Tartelette experience through continuous innovation and expansion of our offerings. Our vision is to establish the Tartelette brand in other locations across Canada, maybe also in other countries.”

A sweet dream.

 

 

By Dan Lalande

Photography by Sean Sisk

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