Eating Our Way Through City Café Bakery in Kitchener, Ontario

Hi! I’m back after yet another weird (but extremely short-lived) lull. Andrew and I went on a nice little vacation, and spent some time visiting Mennonite sites in Ontario! Perhaps you’ve noticed some evidence of this on the Daily Bonnet. In fact, yesterday’s post inspired me to tell you about the City Café Bakery in Kitchener — the heart of Ontario’s Mennonite Country. (I have no idea if Kitchener calls itself that. Perhaps they’d have to fight Elmira, St. Jacobs, or Waterloo for that title. But, they’re pacifist, so… guess not. Ha! )

Anyway, following in the footsteps of our Manitoba Russian Mennonite foremothers and forefathers, we did indeed stop on our way and visit friends in Kitchener, one of whom is descended from Ontario Mennonites. And she told us we HAD to visit City Café Bakery. And, we listened. (She’s brilliant, I had to listen!)

So the next morning, here we were, awkwardly fumbling our way through this alluring bakery. It was quite busy, but there was still room for us to wander around, figuring ourselves out. I was immediately in a blissed-out state.

Spacey, but happy.
They bake with FIRE!

Ultimately, we went with the butter tarts for breakfast, upon Elena’s strong recommendation. Plus orange juice for Andrew, and black coffee for me.

Now, the unique thing about City Café Bakery is that it’s entirely on the honour system. Prices are rounded to the nearest 25 cents and include tax so you can theoretically do the math in your head quite easily, and you just dump the cash in the fare box that came from an old street car.

Thankfully I had a good assortment of cash (which is not often the case). But I’ve gotta say, paying on the honour system was pretty disconcerting.

This is the kind of thing I could totally get used to. Not just the paying on the honour system, but the baked goods were fantastic. The butter tarts were divine.


When we left, I had just enough change to purchase a croissant for the road. It was huge and buttery and I had NO REGRETS!

So, so happy.

So, what does this have to do with Mennonites? I don’t know. We saw a MacLean’s article on the wall, and it mentioned that this bakery was started by a fellow named John Bergen. Hilariously, in the article, he’s quoted as saying that the efficient honour system style of payment “really attracts A-types”. I looked at Andrew and said, “Um, I think that might be us.”

So, there’s the last name of Bergen. And the amazing, amazing butter tarts, in plain, and pecan. (As butter tarts seem to proliferate Mennonite life.) I can’t remember if there were raisin ones too. I’m grateful that there weren’t any hidden raisins in either of our tarts. Perhaps Ontario Mennonites don’t put raisins in the butter tarts? If that’s the case (and, it appears to be so) then, well done, Ontario Mennonite cousins. Well done indeed.