Food & Drink, Reviews

All I have is a twenty: The Crusty Bun

Here we are with one more entry in the proud tradition of delicious eateries with potentially unappetizing names: The Wilted Salad; The Smelly Cheese; The Crusty Bun. The first two were shut down for health code violations, but that last one — a charming bakery/café — has stuck around as a bite-sized piece of the Old World in the middle of St. Vital.

The cuisine is German and the fare is authentic. Although it’s open past supper-time most nights of the week, this is particularly a lunch destination. The Crusty Bun features daily soups and a good variety of deli sandwiches, including schnitzel.

Schnitzel is one of those funny-sounding words that’s become much better known than the actual thing it represents. For the uninitiated, it’s basically a piece of meat that has been pounded flat and then breaded and fried. Pork is traditional in Germany but The Crusty Bun also offers both pork and chicken schnitzel as sandwich options.

The buns are at least as important as the stuff between them, and there are several choices. Seed buns and crusty buns each make for a different sandwich experience, and the type of seed, too, matters. The large pumpkin seeds are quite different your classic sesame seed-encrusted bread.

If you’re less hungry, you might elect to just grab the plain bun itself, and a coffee to wash it down, and indeed, the on-site baked bread products can definitely stand on their own. Fresh and soft where they’re supposed to be, flaky or crunchy or, yes, crusty, where so desired, the bakery display is enough to make anyone on a no-carb diet weep in despair.

With fewer than one-dozen tables, lunch seats fill up fast. But the through traffic never stops. Rather than leave empty-handed when the house is full, most patrons will grab their lunch to go, and of course, lunch isn’t the only thing drawing people in. The bakers here also do a brisk business in selling their  pastries, buns, and full-sized loafs of bread in an almost overwhelming variety. They complement these with jam and other preserve options.

Got a sweet tooth? Their dessert options tend towards dense cakes, pastries, and cookies. Their macaroons are delicious and filling. Show up hungry if you’re going to order one.

If you’re looking for something lighter to finish off a meal, go with the chocolate croissant. Though popularly considered a French specialty, the croissant actually originated in Austria, and has a long tradition in Germany. The Crusty Bun carries it on ably. The satisfyingly chunky pieces of chocolate nicely offset their fluffy pastry wrapping.

With the holidays fast approaching, The Crusty Bun provides a nice alternative for those of us who’d just as soon avoid a weekend of baking. But at any time of year, it’s the spot for a simple, satisfying meal. Just follow the trail of crumb-covered, satisfied-looking people.


Joel Boyce is a Winnipeg-based freelance writer. Links to his writing can be found at his homepage.