Southern cuisine starts with a great biscuit
would test eight biscuits before the day was over) and set out. To be fair, we decided we would order a straightup biscuit (hoping for delicious jam or honey) and biscuits and gravy, two regional, deeply loved biscuit preparations. Along the way, there were devastating travesties of biscuitness. Biscuits that resembled those from Poppin’ Fresh. Sausage patties like pucks retired from a recent hockey game. There were countless packets of foodservice jam and only one place that served honey. Honestly, I wondered whether my taste memory was squirrelly. After a day of biscuit tasting, we agreed upon four truly great ones. The best biscuit came from Back in the Day Bakery, where the air is filled with the tantalizing scent of butter and more butter. The bedazzled picture of Queen Elizabeth hanging over the cash register confirmed this was a bakery with a sense of humour. Baked goods of all sorts were beyond enticing, but the biscuit, $1.50 (all prices in U.S. dollars), was a shining beacon in the pastry case. More substantial and heavier than one might imagine a biscuit should be, these softball-size butter-and-jam delivery systems were divine. The bake shop’s eponymous cookbook offers the biscuit recipe, as well as one for its signature Biscone, a biscuit-scone mashup. Our concierge and dozens of online reviews pointed us to breakfast at B. Matthew’s Eatery, located across a tree-lined boulevard from tour bus parking on River Street. The biscuit at B. Matthew’s ($1.50) sported a craggy, crunchy top that, though promising, revealed a texture more fluffy than flaky. The biscuits-and-gravy entree ($6.25) was generously doused with creamy, peppery, sausage-speckled gravy. The Collins Quarter is a stylish, high-ceilinged, white-tiled charmer with deep banquettes and a cosy Australian-style “brekkie” menu. Unable to resist, we added Red Velvet Pancakes ($12) to our order of a biscuit served with jam and butter ($3) and biscuits and gravy ($14) with housemade chicken sausage, gravy with bacon bits, a fennel-and-green-apple slaw and two perfectly poached eggs dashed with chili oil. The biscuit was layered, light and shot through with the tang of buttermilk. This was a biscuit to tuck into, and the strawberry jam served alongside it was sensational.