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Jan 29, 2008 05:28 AM

Our Night at Pastis Express

We made a reservation on Saturday night, for my Mother's birthday... An early seating at 6:30 p.m. was a great idea b/c by the time we left, the place was a zoo and very loud!

We got the back corner table, which is quite cozy though it is very dark! Mom commented on that in French and the gentleman who seated us (owner?) brought us a little light for her to read her menu! :) Too funny!!

The tables are pretty close so if you mind people watching you while you eat, that is a bit of an issue, but it's a bistro, so what do you expect?

My husband started with a Kir Royal and I had a cosmo... Mom stuck with the Waterstone California Pinot Noir that we ordered. That was the first issue - for a bistro style place, there was virtually nothing on the wine list under $60, other than the pichet of house wine, which was not described so we didn't know what it was...

The specials were interesting - but here's a question... Why do they call it a 'special'? They should call it a 'feature', as it was more expensive than most of the rest of the menu. Special connotates a lower price. Anyhoo, I'll get off that tangent and get back to the food!

Myself: Terrine of foie gras - very good...
Husband: Cod fritters - he found the oil on the coating a bit strong tasting, as if it was a bit old, but otherwise, tasty.
Mom: Mussels - very heavy on the fennel, which was an interesting flavour but they were VERY FLAVOURFUL, which she found pleasantly suprising - so often, she finds they are not flavourful enough (the broth not being reduced down at all...)

Myself: Black cod 'special' - served with a pepperonata and some mash pots.... tasty and good portion size.
Husband: Grilled Nova Scotia lobster... He was happy as a clam... or should I say lobster? ;)
Mom: Same as me. He ordered a glass of chardonnay to go with it and that went well.

Both Mom and husband had the Gourmand platter - which had a profiterole, a marquise au chocolat and a creme brulee... very tasty.
I had the cheese plate... It was really good: old white cheddar, L'Heritier Blue and Douanier. I had never had the Douanier before and I am a HUGE Morbier fan so this was a pleasant alternative!

Husband also had a glass of 10 yr old Tawny Port.

Total? $353 for the three of us...

Worth it? Yes. Would we go back? Maybe mid-week for a casual meal...
Mom had a good birthday, and at the end of the day, that's all that matters.

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  1. I was there the previous night - my first visit in over a year. We were also in that back corner and the lights blew out while we were there - I guess they didn't fix them! Although it was probably better having them out instead of flickering, which is what we experienced.
    Have to admit this was the best experience there. I had stopped going because of the persistent non-availability of wines on their just-OK list (mostly French but severe markups). I used to choose the wine then choose the dishes - only to discover the wine was out-of-stock after I'd ordered. I always wondered what might happen to my food after I reordered.
    We ate early also, and by 8-8:30 the noise level was very loud.
    But the food is good and fairly priced - a bit higher than similar Bistros, but still fair for the quality delivered.
    Avoid the cod fritters! Everything else was fine. Great frites too (the standard by which bistros have to be ranked). And the creme brulee was the second-best I've had recently in Toronto (needed a touch more sugar).
    BUT (and this is my biggest peeve in Toronto) if there is a special it should be comparably priced with other menu items. If not it's a MUST to give the price. I was burned once by this (special price was more than double any other main on the menu) and for a long time I made a point af asking the price of every special I was offered in every place I went. Now I've mellowed a little and only ask if I'm considering ordering the special.
    Nevertheless, if prices aren't mentioned I have been known to lower the gratuity amount (round down instead of up).
    I guess the message is "Go early".

    3 Replies
    1. re: estufarian

      i have had that happen to me too (at other restaurants)! others in my party ordered mains off the regular menu around $14-16, my special came in at $23 and i was definitely surprised when the bill came. anyway, after two good reviews of Pastis, i'm adding this onto my places to try list!

      1. re: auberginegal

        Interestingly, in Peterborough (where I live), I have never had the experience of dining out where they didn't tell you what the price was, as they recited the 'specials'..... it's weird how it happens everywhere here and yet I've NEVER had that experience in Toronto... :)

        1. re: auberginegal

          The general discussion of Specials, what restaurants think that means and what diners think that means, has been moved over to the Not About Food Board. You can find it here: