Canto 6 in Jamaica Plain has only been open for nine months, but it appears that both the owners and their customers are happy happy happy with its arrival. The space – literally across the street from the Boston Police Department’s District 13 precinct – is a clean, bright corner shop, with an attractive and alluring display of its offerings.
Savory and sweet tarts, muffins and cookies, croissants and sandwiches, the sheer variety of what you can eat there would make anyone think they were in Canto 6, but not in the Dante Inferno third-circle-of-hell-where-the-gluttonous-are-punished kind of way; in Alex Emmott and Evangeline McKilligan’s version, it’s more like an oh-yes-I’m-going-to-become-a-glutton-just-so-I-can-eat-all-these-amazing-treats kinder, gentler canto…
The quality of the baked goods is amazingly high: the gruyere croissant (not a cheese croissant, a gruyere croissant, thankyouverymuch) was light and airy, with no greasy spots on the paper underneath.
The Sleepy Hollow is a hollowed-out brioche filled with egg and gruyere; one of us started eating it with a knife and fork, but then just picked the thing up and started eating it because his flatware was getting in his way.
Not to miss are their cannelles, a two-bite, not-so-easy-to-find French delight that’s a little bit muffiny/a little bit custardy and a total joy.
Canto 6’s baked good have a rustic/European (rustic European?) feel to them. These aren’t fussy little concoctions that you have to sit up straight for. They all look like you could eat them right there in line, although the bakery has perhaps 10 chairs and three tables for you to take your time over a cup of very good coffee and the morning paper if you wanted to, too. The bread comes from Clear Flour Bread Bakery in Brookline, which allows Canto 6’s two full-time bakers to concentrate on baked goods.
There are six sandwiches listed on their menu, and 50% of them are vegetarian (which is a big deal for some of us…). The cops do come over once in a while, and I suspect that once they get over the fact that the mustard in the roast beef sandwiches comes from France, I think they’ll come over a lot more.
Both Alex and Evangeline have many years in food; Alex spent time in Montreal learning parts of her trade, and Evangeline was trained at the CIA (no, not that one; they don’t teach croissants at that one). Together, they have made a delight of a bakery and café that, judging by the never-ending take-out trade on the Sunday morning that we stopped by, has been waited for and welcomed by the neighborhood.