It has to be on the list of “most Edmonton thing you can do” — standing in line for a ridiculously long time in order to sample the fare from a hip mini-chain that’s just planted its flag in the city.
This past Thursday, the lineup stretched from Pablo Cheese Tart’s front door, near the corner of 81st Avenue and 102nd Street, almost all the way to 101st Street. And, so, to get in on the Japanese cheese tart craze, I wait for 70 minutes (yes, I timed it) from when I got in line to when I am able to open the front door. What’s advertised? A tart with a gooey, cheese filling that can’t be imitated.
I remember when you used to talk to strangers in lineups, share a joke, get to know people. Now, all you hear are a cacophony of audio from TikTok shorts. Such a wonderful way to wait for tarts. But I guess you’ve got to go through hell before you get to heaven, right?
Because of the rush for Pablo’s first Edmonton location, you’re limited to one large cheese tart and a box of six mini-tarts. Since I’ve waited so long, of course I’m maxing out the order. For the box of six mini-tarts, I get a mix; three strawberry-topped treats and three more with mango. The strawberry topped variety is pretty well a sweetness overload. Strawberry slices and a sticky topping make for a filling treat, and the cheese is definitely playing the role of wingman.
The mango variety is a little more of a subtle mix, which allows the cheese to get more of a starring role.
But, the density of the cheese in the mini-tarts is close to a traditional cheesecake. It holds up if you eat it without the benefit of a knife or fork. It’s not the drippy stuff you see advertised in the signage above the door.
It’s the big tarts, not the minis, that have that gooey inside that has earned Pablo its fans. The large tart’s cheese filling (the large tart can easily split between four people) is softer and more gelatinous, and there’s a slight tartness to it. The crust is more dense than you’d expect, it’s somewhere halfway between a true buttery, flaky tart pastry and a pie crust.