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delux on ossington

  • k

i've been eagerly anticipating the opening of delux, the new restaurant that replaced the much loved sparrow (i know there were sparrow critics on the board, but many of us in the hood loved its intimate casual vibe, and generally tasty unpretentious food). while i will always remember sparrow fondly, i must say that the new restaurant is a better replacement. the chef corinna mozo was praised by some toronto critics in anticipation of the opening, and i think the praise was well deserved.

first, the decor has changed from shabby chic to more rustic elegance (no more quirky staircase to nowhere:)), white walls, grey banquettes, marble tabletops, and dark wood accents. bathrooms thankfully much upgraded, although the staircase leading to them remains trecherous. the place feels more grown up and the clientele, while mixed in ages, seems a bit older (ie. late 30s to early 40s, rather than mid-20 to late 30s - although still very hip:) ).

the restaurant offers a basic french bistro food, with a bit of cuban influence (the cuban-french fusion was mozo's signature at her previous gigs). the menu for now has basic bistro fare: duck confit, steak frites, garlic roasted chicken, boulabaisse (sp.), mussels etc. very seasonal, most dishes came with different types of root vegetables. we shared a arugula salad with beets and chevre (the latter pan fried in nicely seasoned coating). for mains i had the cubano sandwich, and my partner had steak frites. the salad was very nice, not mind-blowing, but perfectly fresh and tasty, with a nice zesty dressing. the steak was perfectly rare done - really did melt in the mouth. my partner thought that it was slightly oversalted, i disagreed. my cubano was really delicious - grilled sanwich composed of grilled chicken, ham, gruyere, little pickles, mustard and mayo. all these flavours melted together produced a really yummy savoury, spicy, zesty medley of flavours. the frites were good (not jamie kennedy good but good), and came with a spicy chipotle mayo. with a bottle of california pinot noir, this was a very comforting tasty meal, just the kin dof bistro experience i think the chef is trying to create.

my only complaint is that i'd like to see more of the cuban influence in the menu. this is an accomplished chef who is comfortable in both cuisines - it'd be nice to see what she can do marrying the two. on the other hand, i love the fact that there is a french bistro in the hood (and if the cuban angle will remain minor, then our beloved julie's on dovercourt will not be endangered which is also good!).

the waiter told us that sunday brunch is being planned - probably will start in a couple of weeks.

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    1. any items you particularly suggest? i've got a reso there sometime soon and while the menu is short i'd be glad to get a heads up.

      1. yes, the bread was very good. am glad to hear about the ribs, that was my second choice. now i know what i'll have the next time!

        1. re: Kasia

          The first time I ate there was a private party with a set menu, so I've only seen the menu once, the second time we ate there...but my friends raved about the trout, and the roast chicken as well. The chocolate cake was delicious too. And her brother says her Cuban sandwich makes him weep with pleasure...I haven't tried it. Yet! Actually I'm hoping to find a dining companion who thinks splitting a sandwich and frites is a fine appetizer and will want to get main courses after. My wife looks at me like I'm a crazy pig when I suggest stuff like that.

          Curious to hear if there are nightly specials, and what they are...anyone have a report?

          I'm wary about sounding like I'm shilling for my friend's sister, but it really is a great little neighbourhood spot that isn't trying to make you eat $35 foam.

          1. re: childofthestorm

            So.

            We were looking for a new place to try last evening (Saturday). Did my usual searches on chowhound and narrowed it down to: Wish, L'Unita, and Delux. Picked Delux. Called Friday at 5:00, spoke to a nice guy who in fact referred to this string, and made a reservation for 2 people for Saturday at 8:00 p.m. See you then, he said.

            We drove over to that side of town and got there a little early, 7:40 or so. Noticed a sign on the door that said "Closed for Private Party". Went it. Saw the open reservation book with my name (and correct telephone number) for 8:00. The only reservation in the book. Spoke to the hostess who said they were closed for a private party. I explained that we had booked the day before and I pointed to the reservation in her book. I asked my no one bothered to call and tell us that the restaurant was closed.

            Uncomfortable laugh, a shrug of the shoulders, a half-assed apology. Finally, she offered "I hope you will try us again sometime."

            Not likely.

            1. re: EarlyDrive

              That sounds awful. They definitely should have looked after you. Customer comes first yes? Anything else is disrespectful which says all the wrong things, top to bottom. I had something similar happen recently at another resto. Booked specifically a booth. Got there and they said they accidently double-booked it. Since hubby doesn't take no lightly, he explained that since it was their mistake it was their problem. We got the booth.

              EarlyDrive, from a brief glance of your homepage I'd guess L'Unita would satisfy.

              1. re: Googs

                I will definitely try L'Unita -- maybe next Saturday at 8:00. :)

              2. re: EarlyDrive

                that is terrible! you may not want to bother which would be understandable, but i would complain to the chef/owner. this is certainly not a story she'd want to have publicized at a time when she and the restaurant are trying to establish themselves in toronto. if i was the owner, i would want to know about this, and have the opportunity to try to retain a potential customer.

                1. re: Kasia

                  "not a story she'd want to have publicized at a time when she and the restaurant are trying to establish themselves in toronto." ???

                  A little late for that...

                2. re: EarlyDrive

                  "I hope you will try us again sometime."

                  I was waiting for the bit where they offered you a gift certificate for a free meal because of the inconvenience they caused you. *sigh* Why don't restaurants get that in this age of the intarwebs, news of crappy treatment spreads like wildfire?

          2. was there friday night, but a great conversation with friends left me rather distracted from the food. the service needs some serious help though, it's disorganized and badly trained.. the green servers are quite obvious.

            arrived early for my reso and had to wait an extra 15 minutes for my friends to show up. during this time i was seated and given menus but for at least 10 minutes was completely left alone to hope for an offer of a beverage while other servers kept idly walking up and down the aisle. everyone but my actual server was helpful, picking a wine pairing for my meal and checking up on the meal during and afterwards.

            found the potato and leek soup overpowered with chicken broth and rather salty. friends very much enjoyed it through. the pear blue cheese and candied pecan salad over arugala was excellent. nice fresh produce and nuts was more of a tribute to good ingredients. the praised bread didn't show up until we were nearly done our apps and i didn't bother with a taste.

            beef short rib seemed a bit try, but my taste might not have been sauced. confit completely unmemorable. my own main of steak frites came with a good sizeable portion of rare meat (not asked how i wanted it cooked), which was very tender albeit lean. it was heavily seasoned on the exterior with something i haven't been able to exactly identify but a twist on basic salt and pepper crusting. the fries were nice but not exceptional as they arrived barely warm, the tarragon was a nice matching flavour. cubano looked nice but did not have a taste.

            now the apple galette dessert, heaven. my sweet tooth kicked in and all i really wanted was a taste. a nice tender and barely flakey pastry holding buttery and meltingly tender apple pieces with a perfectly caramelized sauce and a second creamy vanilla sauce. my dessert reticent friends gobbled it up while i visited the bathroom!

            i'm willing to give them another try in hopes that there will be a tweaked menu and improved service. the price point is certainly agreeable, 2 glasses of wine ($8 and $6) with an app ($10), large main (didn't even finish it, $23), and a delicious dessert ($7). certainly full and satiated with even a bit of leftover if it weren't for my ravenous friends.

            3 Replies
            1. re: pinstripeprincess

              this is my favourite new restaurant in town. the cubano is amazing!! the waiter informed me that the pork had been changed from loin to shoulder, and the sandwich was life changing! beautiful red wine (i have no idea) by the glass...finally!

              amazing food, attentive service, accessible wine list. could someone in the neighbourhood want more?

              1. re: pinstripeprincess

                Their reservations policy could use a little polish too. They clearly should have either fed them or comped them for another evening. Imagine not even getting a phone call and then having to find a place to eat on a Saturday night at 8pm in this town. EEK!

                1. re: Googs

                  Finding another restaurant at 8:00 was a big part of it actually. We spent nearly an hour driving around trying to find a place (we didn't have a cell). First we tried Foxley's (2 hour wait), then down to Niagara Street Cafe (they were full but spent quite a bit of time trying to re-arrange the seatings to see if they could fit us in but, in the end, couldn't), then Wish (table not available), then Rosebud (table not available), then Coca where we sat at the bar. Had a nice time -- sampled 4 or 5 different reds by the glass, enjoyed the coca, Cumbrae's skirt steak, salad with seared tuna, some olives etc. The real miss at Coca was the prawns. Otherwise very enjoyable.

            2. +

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              Delux
              92 Ossington Ave, Toronto, ON M6J2Z4, CA

              1. have been there 4 or 5 times already.. i live in the neighbourhood, so its not hard... but
                with comfort food like this, its not hard to repeat your visit.

                some suggestions... the pear salad is so yummy and the short ribs of course!!!!

                2 Replies
                1. re: danielwell

                  I quite enjoy this place as well. The service varies significantly depending on whom you get. (And I'm hoping to hear that the person wose reservation was botched got a real apology. Unfortunately, that sort of oversight is too common in TO so I'm not hoping too hard...) Only one person's mentioned it but the prices are quite reasonable. I don't know how people make a living with so few seats but it's to our benefit! With the exception of the Confit (which should be EASY to get right) pretty much everything else is good to very very good.

                  That stretch of Ossington has improved immeasurably as well. The last few times I've been there I've had a pleasant stroll between Dundas and Queen. There's a weird little Soho-like shop / installation just north of queen. Lots of cool antique places to gaze into and wish. (I know that's sort of OT for a food board but it's part of the experience.) There's a great little shop that's similar to Commute living. Start's with a C but can't remember the name. All in all a good place for some nosh in a cool neighbourhood. Seems like every time I go I sleep better than I have since the early 90's!

                  1. re: torestohound

                    I just visited Delux and absolutely loved it.
                    Great service, a lovely room- I liked the Sparrow but much prefer Delux's rendition of the space, hooray white!
                    Starter-Charcuterie plate (Amazing! The rillettes were gorgeous-rabbit and duck served with tiny cornichons, a currant/raisin spread and lovely crostini.
                    We also ordered a pastry with potatoes, caramelized onions, goat cheese and black olives that was heavy, buttery and scrumptious, but perhaps too heavy for a starter.
                    Main- My partner had the much-famed Cubano sandwich which was from heaven. He could only finish half, it's huge and from heaven. I'm looking forward to eating the leftovers tonight! The fries and chipotle mayo dip could have been better, but they were good.
                    I had the roast chicken with garlic, parsley and lemon served with asparagus and parisienne gnocchi filled with ricotta. The gnocchi were a bit screwy- a little sweet inside and too pan-fried on the outside and the chicken drippings could have been refined into a sauce instead of a loose pool, but the flavours were lovely and the portions huge.
                    Dessert was a gorgeous warm chocolate cake with creme anglaise and fresh raspberries, which i loved.
                    We had a great bottle of Sancerre and enjoyed ourselves immensely. I'm so pleased to have found Delux for myself!

                2. been there a couple of times,
                  great food, great service and great location.
                  good for any occasion.

                  get the cubano (pulled pork sandwich w/fries)