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French restaurant recommendation needed

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I am looking for an authentic French restaurant, willing to spend up to $80/head excluding drinks, no tourist traps please. Location does not matter as long as it is inside the GTA. Any recommendations fellow chowhounders?

Thanks in advance!

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  1. How about Batifole?

    744 Gerrard St E, Toronto, ON M4M1Y3, CA

    17 Replies
      1. re: kawarthagirl

        Third for Batifole. Not much on comfort or decor, but the food tastes as close to authentic French bistro cuisine as i've found in Toronto.

        1. re: rsvp7777

          Had dinner at Batifole last night. Overall experience was only so-so! Ordered the spicy lobster/rock fish bisque and the chicken liver bruille as appertizers, which was great as usual. However, the mains of pork shank confit and the calves liver were dissappointing. The pork shank, though tasty through the first couple of bites, was too greasy and overwhelming. The liver was nicely seared to medium rare pink but spoiled by being immersed in a huge 'pool' of basalmic vinegar based sauce which washes away all the delicate smokey pan seared aroma and flavour of the liver. Both the butter scotch crepe and frozen chocolate mousse with coffee sauce desserts lacked the taste of the main ingredients and were way too sweet! In comparison, 'Pastis express' food quality is much better, especially the calves liver, which is 'hands down' best in the GTA.

          Lastly, how come no body gave 'Celestin' a mention?!.

          1. re: Charles Yu

            I was also there on Sat night! Was my first time there, as I went based on everyone's recommendations here. I had a great experience. Also had the lobster soup and loved it. Had the dory, which I loved. However, similar to your main, it was served in a bowl of the sauce, which while was exceptional, I felt was perhaps a bit too strong for the delicate taste of the fish. Service was great. Didn't order any deserts, also due to people's opinions.

            Planning to go to Le Paradis in a bit and will report on that...

            1. re: SMOG

              Went to Le Paradis last night and really enjoyed it. Overall, the service was attentive and pleasant and the food was just as I expected it to be: perfectly cooked, perfect portion sizes, great selection and exceptional value. The only negative I would say is the decor of the place, which I would say as past it's day, but certainly not bad enough to detract me.

              At our table, we started off with the vert salad, croquette salad and fish soup. Vert salad was fresh, but kind of plain. But it was only $4 and a large portion for that price. The croquette salad at $7 more interesting. The $4 fish group was great, although it was very, very spicy. I can handle spice, so had to issue with it, but for most people I would say it would have been over the top. I was warned of this prior to ordering though, so had no issue with it.

              (We were topped up on spectacular fresh bread regularly and of course, lots of butter on the table!)

              For mains, at our table we had 2 flank steaks with bearnaise sauce, frites and veg; a sea bass with rice and veg; and a braised lamb shank with beans. Everyone thoroughly enjoyed the food. The flank steak was cooked perfectly to medium rare, the same colour all throughout. It was nicely charred on the outside to give it lots of great flavour. Just enough sauce on it. And we asked for aioli for the fries, which also were cooked perfectly and eaten to the last little bit! The fish came with a gorgeous and incredibly unique tasting sauce. I don't remember what they called it, but it was made with coconut milk, lime butter, shallots and chili. Portion sizes, in my opinion, were plentiful for price. For everything, including a couple beers, the bill was $105 including tax and tip. Considering we ate appetizers, steak, lamb and bass, I'd give value a 10/10!

              Now for the interesting part - comparing it to Batifole. Although I really enjoyed both, I'd say that my experience at Batifole was more enjoyable. The food was a little more refined, but what I enjoyed the most was the atmosphere and overall feel of the place. Pros of Paradis are that they have a more extensive menu, which was appreciated, and I think the value was better. Batifole for more expensive, but still I'd say good value. It's a tough choice though! I highly recommend both.

            2. re: Charles Yu

              Celestin is one of my favourite restaurants, but seems to be not as popular here.
              It is a restaurant to go to with friends, and have a very relaxed enjoyable evening.
              Never rushed, and just solid food.

              1. re: erly

                Totally agree Erly- not sure why nobody mentions it. The food is innovative French but is served without pretense, the room is lovely- is it a secret spot Chow people don't nkow about?

                1. re: MartiniGirls

                  the reason batifole gets more recommendations than celestin probably relates to price. batifole is one of the better value/quality places in town, as far as i'm concerned. celestin, haven't been there, but the menu looks really good and i've heard good stuff from others. but appetizers between $15-$23 and mains getting close to $40 puts it in a different category. that being said, the original request was up to $80, ex drinks, so celestin fits the bill.

                  1. re: grandgourmand

                    Exactly. Celestin is in a different league with respect to price. It's a formal place that's high-end, whereas Batifole is a casual place where you can eat a full meal for less than the price of one entree at Celestin!

                    1. re: SMOG

                      i guess the question then, is whether or not Celestin is in a different league in price AND food; if so, $80/head is worth it.

                      1. re: MartiniGirls

                        Yes to all of the above. Celestin is in a different league from Batifole in terms of both food and price. And it is well worth the extra $$ in my opinion. I would also add that the ambiance and location is much nicer too!

                        1. re: millygirl

                          If that's the case, then I'd argue that you can't and shouldn't compare them. It's like comparing.... well, you got the point!

                          1. re: SMOG

                            Huh?? You'd be arguing with yourself smog. It's not a matter of comparison. We are simply discussing price points, food quality, and why one resto gets mentioned over another. No 'dis' intended to Batifole.

                            1. re: millygirl

                              My two cents:
                              Batifole if you want honest, tasty French food and not blow your brains after getting the bill. A frequent stop.

                              Celestin if you want really nice French food (sorry, haven't been there so can't really comment) for a special occasion.

                              Personally, I'm biased towards the better value places. I've been disapointed many times by "high end" Toronto restaurants that don't deliver the goods to match the price. Susur, Truffles, a few others come to mind. Those places, I'll save for the expense account.

                              1. re: grandgourmand

                                I have been to Celestin and think the food good but not outstanding with a good environment. I like the white theme of the room. Never been to Batifole.

                                grandgourmand, so in your opinion, which "high end" restaurant deliver the goods to match the price ? Or have you experienced any at all ?

                                1. re: skylineR33

                                  I've been to Susur, Truffles, Canoe on my own dime. Good food, no doubt, but did I feel it was worth the $150+ incrementally over a place like Batifole? Nope. Conversely, I've been to a few similarly priced places when work was picking up the tab and didn't really think much about value then. That's how i feel, hence prefaced the statement with "personally"...kind of getting off topic from the original request, though.

                                  1. re: grandgourmand

                                    every time we go out, all things are considered; price, location, service, food... sometimes homey is all I'm looking for, sometimes price will keep me away from a restaurant I love. That said, I wouldn't eat at Susur every week, but I am glad I had the chance to experience it. anyway, i do appreciate your personal selection on this one- batifole is a great little spot, especially in that area & I didn't intend to diss it.
                                    on another 'off the topic' mention- I never have the perfect dinner when out with work, no matter how nice the resto- it's just not the same as enjoying dins with friends..

      2. Le Select on Wellington or Thuet on King West....Miranda

        2 Replies
        1. re: miranda

          havent been to Batifole yet, but I have tried Le Select and really enjoyed my meal. I dont know how authentic it is to be honest, but its clean, a beautiful room, a good menu that should please everyone and the service was excellent.

          1. re: hungryabbey

            Third for Batifole. Le Select is inconsistent, and the decor, while expensive-looking and beautiful, is kind of a touristy recreation of 1920s Paris. I'd rather go for a neighbourhood French boîte any day.

          1. re: HelloClarice

            Can you be more specific, Clarice... I've been eager to try Tati... was there a problem?

            1. re: Rabbit

              I was at Tati this week. It is a good little spot to have in the neighbourhood, but I would not travel any distance to eat there (at least not yet). Uneven service--nice, but not particularly organized or professional. The food is just okay. I had the duck terrine, which was bland, but the antipasto platter at the table next to us looked very fresh, with huge shrimp. My New York steak was tender, and cooked how I requested, but had an ice cold lump o' herb butter on top that didn't melt until I was almost done. Frites were mealy, plating was unappetizing. (And I was shocked that they asked if I wanted ketchup--until I looked around and saw half of the tables were using it.) My companion had the lamb, which was doused in some sort of reddish sauce--he said it tasted better than it looked, which isn't saying much. Generally, I'd try it again, but I plan to give it some time. However, if your idea of celebrity sightings is profs from U of T, you'd be in heaven!

              1. re: Rabbit

                I had a terrible experience there last Saturday night. Here’s a look at what the evening was like:

                Went arrived as a party of 4, although we reserved as a party of 5, with a 7:00 p.m. reservation. We showed up timely, but without our 5th guest, who cancelled last-minute. While standing in the doorway, with half our party literally standing outside in the cold, we were promptly delivered a lecture by the hostess, who was clearly very annoyed with us, on how in the future it would be a “simple courtesy” to call them ahead of time in the event of any change to the reservation, since they’re “very busy”. We understood, but explained that we only learned of the cancellation minutes ago ourselves. A little annoyed, and still in the cold, we were subsequently delivered another lecture by our gracious hostess, this time reminding us that there they offer two sittings, and our table was “spoken for” at 9:00 p.m., so eat fast.

                After this warm welcome, we were finally invited in out of the cold, but left to stand idiotically in the centre of a busy restaurant holding our coats until our hostess finally decided we could stay and offered to take them off our hands. While I have it in mind, I should mention that at the end of our night we were asked to traverse the stairs and retrieve our own coats, since the staff had no recollection of which coats were ours (note to restaurateurs: the “memory system” is perhaps not the most excellent system for a coat check) At long last we were seated at our 4-person table, where the 5th chair (which was squished awkwardly into one side) was removed with much drama.

                Recent Riverdale transplants, we really wanted to love Tati since we live down the street and long for a French bistro to replace our beloved Batifole. So we agreed to wipe the slate clean and start fresh with a clean plate, so to speak. The place was hopping. It’s a lovely room with a great bistro feel. Our waitress made her initial appearance at our table at 7:15 p.m. Tick, tock. She dropped off and menus and disappeared into the crowd. We didn’t see her again until 7:30 p.m. Tick, tock. We ordered a bottle of wine and some water. Our first pick on the short wine list was not available. Not a problem. We picked again with success. The wine came, was promptly poured all over the table, then wiped up unapologetically. I prefer my $120 wine in my glass, thank you. Mercifully we were left to pour the wine ourselves the rest of the night. 7:45 p.m. Tick, tock. Our waitress reappeared and we ordered our starters and mains, along with some frites for the table to munch on.

                Starters came at 8:15 p.m. Tick, tock. We were getting concerned that we were going to run out of time. Surely this wouldn’t be an issue, after all, we were not responsible for the service which was slower than evolution, were we? As you know, good food can counteract bad service and elevate a dining experience, and vice-versa. Beef carpaccio was bland and tasteless. Calamari was a also bland and tasteless with the consistency of wet toilet paper. Perhaps by “grilled” they meant “boiled”. The French onion soup was decent, but so is the frozen Costco version. Mussels were excellent. Where were those frites? Ah, here they come, and pretty good too. 8:25 p.m. Tick, tock.

                We awaited our mains, as well as the various pieces of cutlery that were removed and never returned. 8:40 p.m. our mains arrive. The cutlery does not. We renew our requests for cutlery. “It’s coming, we’re short-staffed”. Replied our annoyed waitress. No kidding. The hostess' lecture hung in our heads. Better eat fast!

                The forks and knives arrive after 10 minutes and without apology, and so our guests can proceed to eat their steak. Still no sign of the requested mayo, water, salt and pepper. We give up. Steak cooked to order and very good. Cod with roasted garlic sauce on truffled mashed potatoes: 10 out of 10. Duck confit was soft, bland and utterly disappointing. Accompanying vegetables were nice, and although raw garlic has some proven health benefits as an antioxidant, the heaps of it laced atop the sweet potatoes made the accompaniment too sulphuric and bitter. Ugh, where’s that water? Wait, here comes the mayo!

                It’s 9:00 p.m. (tick, tock) by the time the plates are cleared and we are offered coffee and desert. we order 2 desserts to share. They show up at 9:15. Tick, tock. Lemon tart was fantastic, with the perfect ratio of sweet and sour. Frozen chocolate mousse was also a winner. I’m not a huge dessert fan, so I usually prefer to share them – I just prefer to have my own fork, which seems like an impossible luxury at Tati Bistro. By this point, staff has really started to apply the pressure. The party of 12 that was set to swallow up our table at 9:00 p.m. swarmed in and were now seated at the 8-person table next to us. A particularly obnoxious guest in the party of 12 leered at us constantly (and eventually confronted us), adding to the discomfort. Finally, at 9:20 p.m., we were refused additional coffee by our now hostile waitress and asked to leave (“You were told about that when you got here, were you not?”) – of course not before paying the $400 bill. A brief discussion with the owner resulted in an offer to move to another table and finish our coffee. Desserts were knocked off the bill (or forgotten). Too little, too late.

                After fetching our own coats we left. Outside we stared longingly into 93 Harbord wishing we could turn back the hands of time on this dreadful evening.

                1. re: HelloClarice

                  That was a BRILLIANT review!

                  124 Harbord Street, Toronto, ON M5S 1G8, CA

                  1. re: HelloClarice

                    UGHH!! That's one place that's off my to-try list as of now. I hope management are reading, and I hope they're ashamed.

                    1. re: HelloClarice

                      Oh my, what an awful experience. I feel terrible for you and your party. I have never experienced that kind of rude service there in the half dozen times I've been, but perhaps it's because I dine solo (not that it should matter). Seems like they've got some serious staff issues that need working out. Thanks for the review.

                      1. re: HelloClarice

                        Ack! - horrific.

                        Thanks for the excellent report and sorry for your dreadful evening.

                        I'll be striking Tati off the to-do list for the foreseeable future. These kind of bad service stories make me crazy. Totally agree with estragon's comment that management should be very embarrassed by this report.

                        1. re: Rabbit

                          Thanks for the great review HelloClarice. I really feel for you. It's a shame to plan for a dinner out, spend your hard earned money only to end up being abused by people that are clearly in the wrong line of work.

                          If nothing else please know that your review is very amusing. One of the best I have read in a long while. Rest assured this is one place I will not bother with.

                          Actually friends of mine went about a month ago and experienced a similar disaster. Not sure of all the details but I do recall it started with a waitress (picture a pierced belly button staring in your face) asking "'what can I get YOUSE to drink". It was not a good start and went progressively downhill from there.

                          1. re: Rabbit

                            someone should email the management and let them know that people are reading about the dreadful hostess and service and are actively avoiding the restaurant for their poor (and admittedly abnoxious) service!

                            there's no publicity like bad publicity.

                            Amusing review BTW, HelloClarice. I enjoyed reading it.

                          2. re: HelloClarice

                            Holy Sotto Sotto Batman! Tati was never on my "to do" list. Too many bad rumours, too many solidly good places in Gotham.

                            1. re: HelloClarice

                              Amazing review. What makes a great restaurant is really the combination of food, service and ambiance. I think if one of them lacks, people are bound to get ticked off.

                              After reading this review, I would never bother going there. Simple as that. Thanks for all your effort, Clarice.

                        2. How about Bodega? I haven't been for a few years but I still remember the gorgeous duck breast with pomegranate sauce and the rabbit stew with a deep, dark red wine sauce and peppercorns. There were also some great wild boar sausages to start.

                          It's in a converted mansion which adds to the atmosphere too.

                          33 Baldwin St. 416-977-1287


                          1 Reply
                          1. re: GourmandGirl

                            I had a good meal at bodega as well. Especially the french onion soup :)

                          2. I have always had a lovely time at Celestin, and the food is excellent.

                            1. Thank Clarice, you just saved me $150!! I had called yesterday to make a reservation for Saturday but they don't take reservations on Saturday so I thought, I'll think about it..... not really willing to take my chances on getting a table on a Saturday night.
                              Tati is off the list!

                              8 Replies
                              1. re: Baelsette

                                Really? Tati said they don't take res. for Saturday night? We had dinner there a couple weekends ago on a Saturday and had a reservation (at 8 p.m., no less). Not surprised at all by Clarice's experience, though. We must have encountered the same hostess, although I will say we had a better experience with the food and waitress. For anyone that is willing to try it and can make a reservation, please specify to the person on the phone that you do not want to sit near the door!

                                1. re: sake

                                  Thanks for all the constructive inputs! Keep it going! Bodega doesn't look that authentic to me unfortunately.As for Batifole, what is worth ordering from the menu?

                                  1. re: 325i

                                    just wondering what "authentic" means to you exactly in the context of Toronto.

                                    1. re: JamieK

                                      Preferably French by French, with minimized Canadian influence in indegridients etc.

                                    2. re: 325i

                                      Yeah but Bodega does sweetbreads! And Batifole does a great flank (or hangar?) steak. That's what I respect about French cooking how they tease the best out of – and use – the whole animal (or veg).

                                      The ultimate recessionistas! (Well, Chinese too)

                                    3. re: sake

                                      a restaurant not taking reservations on a saturday night should be rewarded with an empty dining room. sounds like the whole management is driving the snotty "don't care if you come" attitude.

                                      1. re: doctorandchef

                                        Zuni Cafe in San Fran. doesn't do reservations, and is constantly packed! I used to work as a server and Saturday's were always full of no shows. Sometimes up to 20% of the reservations, which is terrible for business. It seems many groups will reserve at a few places and then decide the night of where they want to go. I've even had friends do this, and I would be frantically calling up the restaurants at the last minute to cancel, to my friends bewilderment. Not that I think clarice's experience was acceptable, especially since they spoke to the owner and didn't get a satisfactory result. It seems that tati opened up, got some good reviews from the press and now can't handle it. They need to get into gear or it could be too late.

                                        1. re: doctorandchef

                                          Vij's in Vancouver doesn't take reservations and is packed from the moment it opens every night. They serve free snacks in the lounge, and sell a lot of drinks. It's just good business.

                                    4. I have to dissent from the pro-Batifole crowd. My experience was merely a 'B', as every excellence was accompanied by a flaw. The service was friendly and efficient, but... I had the fish soup, the flavour of which was excellent, but the soup had not been properly filtered and was unpleasantly gritty. The horse tartare was the highest possible quality of flesh, perfectly minced, but was overly spiced, such that the flavour of the flesh was masked. I really wanted to love Batifole, but I can't

                                      To my mind, Pastis is the most reliable bistro: Lovely room, effficient service, excellent food, never had a bad experience.

                                      1. Is everyone so out of love with Didier that his place doesn't even get mentioned?

                                        6 Replies
                                        1. re: Googs

                                          I haven't been to Didier, but I noticed that Le Paradis was not mentioned. I ate there for the first and second time in December/January and both times everyone enjoyed it. Perhaps they have given it a reno as I didn't notice the filth and dirt mentioned in this earlier thread : http://www.chowhound.com/topics/105106

                                          I've eaten at Batifole around four times, and nobody I went there with liked it, so I can't go any longer. When I suggest it to my wife, she says's she won't go. I really liked some of the appetizers at Batifole, especially the seafood soup, but some of the mains look like they were re-heated in a microwave before serving.

                                          1. re: foodyDudey

                                            I have followed Didier for yrs...since before The Fifth days. As far as I'm concerned, he is Canadas finest French Chef. The only complaint I've ever had about Didier is that the service is sometimes unreliable.

                                            1. re: foodyDudey

                                              I second Paradis, have enjoyed the food and service, never noticed any issues.

                                              Le Paradis
                                              166 Bedford Road, Toronto, ON M5R 2K9, CA

                                            2. re: Googs

                                              Just looked at the Didier menu.
                                              So disappointing.
                                              Pedestrian at best.
                                              Totally lacking in ambition.
                                              A decent cook can make any of the dishes shown.
                                              Too bad, as I was going to try it next week.
                                              Just compare it to the Le Paradis menu.

                                              1. re: erly

                                                Personally, erly, I enjoy simple dishes that are well-executed. Perhaps anyone can assemble ingredients, but talent & experience makes it art. I hope you still consider Didier.

                                                1. re: Googs

                                                  My wife and I decided to check out Didier two weeks ago since we had a gift certificate. I have to agree with erly regarding the menu - it was really quite ordinary, and given that the gift certificate was going to only cover about 1/4 of our costs, we ended up trying to go elsewhere initially. But we couldn't snag a reservation at our first choices, so we decided to give Didier a shot.

                                                  In spite of a general preference for more innovative cuisine (at that price point, anyway) I was interested to see what a classically trained chef could pull off and was entirely open to the experience. The bottom line was that the food was merely decent. My wife had foie gras as a starter which was very good. I had the oeufs en cocottes - I thought it was merely OK with the tomato sauce overpowering some of the other flavours but I admit to not being familiar with the dish, so I will assume it was cooked properly. We both had rack of lamb for dinner. Regardless of how one feels about taste (I thought the olive flavour was a little overpowering) it was cooked medium well to well done. The carrot mousseline on the side was lovely.

                                                  All things considered (there were some service issues, no horror stories, but minor issues nonetheless) I wouldn't recommend Didier. It's just too expensive for what you're getting.

                                            3. Try Coquine at Yonge and Manor. I've been twice now and have been quite impressed. Although I did find the Cassoulet to be lacking flavour, texture and general oomph, the steak frites is (are?) amazing! It's a French/Italian restaurant (more French, IMO) and the pastas are also wonderful. Service is spot-on.

                                              1 Reply
                                              1. re: thenurse

                                                Definitely do Didier! I love Batifole too, I know they just got a new, very talented French chef, but it sounds like there might be a couple tiny kinks to iron out there. I think Didier's food is on a higher level than Batifole, so worth checking out.

                                              2. Thanks for all the inputs guys! I'll try Batifole later this week then Le Paradis next. Will post pictures once I've tried them.

                                                10 Replies
                                                1. re: 325i

                                                  I'm not convinced by Le Paradis.

                                                  I just had lunch there and it wasn't very good. I went with a friend, we shared the mussels to start and then had our own mains. The mussels were okay, tasty but not anything special and we had to ask for bread to go with them. Also, there were two un-opened mussels. I know that shellfish dies, but I never know why the un-opened shells get served.

                                                  As to mains, my friend had the mixed fish dish. When he asked for it, he was told that it wasn't as described on the menu. It was more tomato-based and had fennel instead of citrus. It was decribed as "Nice, but nothing to write home about." I chose the grilled chicken and it was really dry and bland. The compound butter may have melted on top and vanished, but there was little flavour and the chicken itself wasn't very tasty. And did I mention dry? The fries it came with just weren't very good.

                                                  I had the frozen chocolate mousse dessert, which I admit was lovely, but only after profiteroles I wanted weren't available. The service was decent ("rough and ready" rather than gracious) and there is definately a good selection of wines under $50, but two glasses of wine, one starter, one dessert, a cappuccino and two mains was $65 plus tip. The decor is also a bit tatty and parking is difficult to find, especially in the snow. It's also not that easy to find...

                                                  Honestly, I prefered Midi Bistro for lunch and either Pastis, Jacques' or Browne Bistro in general by far...

                                                  1. re: morrigan

                                                    Le Paradis is my idea of what a good French bistro should be like - comparatively cheap, tasty and cheerful - and has been for the 25-odd years that it has been around. But perhaps lunch is not the best time to test it. You're right, parking is difficult around there at mid-day. But at night, abundant street parking opens up, as well as in the covered lot across the street from the resto. And few restos are easy to find first time out, but once you've been there one time it becomes easy. Though I can see where finding the joint and then finding a parking spot can put a person in a cranky mood for the festivities to come.

                                                    I've had most of the dishes you've mentioned - always at dinner (it's the exact same menu at lunch and there are no price breaks) - and have never been disappointed, though some times have been better than others. I'm surprised you had difficulty securing a piece of bread with your mussels, because a hefty chunk of fresh bread is just about the first thing servers plop down on to your table when you sit down, but you usually have to ask for a second piece (or a third), and there's no problem getting them when you enquire. Details like a couple of unopened mussels are looked upon as unimportant in the scheme of life at Le Paradis. Just don't eat them. It's all part of a more casual experience at a more casual price. Agreed that, as you say, Pastis and Brownes Bistro are probably better (I've never been to Midi, or to Jacques for years, where parking is truly difficult), but those two are also several cuts above in price as well. And Pastis' wine prices - except for its house wine - are truly horrifying. Celestin is a cut or two above Pastis and Brownes in quality and price, to the point where it can no longer be called a bistro, but a first-class French restaurant, one of the best in the city. (Note to the original poster: if $80 per is your price point, go for Celestin.) Le Paradis is Batifole for an older crowd, mainly from the Annex neighborhood. There's a reason they keep on coming back. The service is certainly not servile, but it's brisk and professional. Many of the servers have been around a long time. If the joint is looking a little tatty, I haven't noticed it. But it's clean, which is what counts. At night, you can hardly ever get a reservation, though the place always keeps a strip of tables open at the front for walk-ins without reservations (I guess it believes that locals, or anyone else, should be accommodated if they feel the sudden urge for decent bistro cuisine).

                                                    The atmosphere at night is particularly jovial, mainly locals eating and drinking (one of the best-priced wine lists in town) and having a helluva good time. The joint has lasted a long time because it usually delivers. Next time you're in the neighborhood around dinner time - it's probably not worth driving across town for - park in the covered lot on the ground floor of the commercial building directly across the street (which opens its lot to Le Paradis patrons for free after 6 p.m.) and give it another whirl. I'm partial to the garlicky Caesar or just about any other salad on the menu, and the flank steak with frites. Simple, straightforward dishes, unembellished but flavorful, which is what bistro cooking oughta be.

                                                    1. re: juno

                                                      My 2 cents:

                                                      I'm with you on this morrigan and thought your review was bang on. LeParadis just didn't do it for me either. Okay the price is reasonable, but the food is nothing to write home about. "Rough and ready" pretty much sums it up. Last time we went, which was well over 2 years ago, my husband's cut of meat was of such poor quality he was put off red meat for days afterwards. And hopefully they have cleaned the place up because I gotta say it was pretty grungy when we were there. Old food stains on the wall is not a pretty thing. That was the real turn off for me. It was so bad we asked to be moved.

                                                      I know, to each his own, but give me Pastis any day. The service and atmosphere is stellar. The staff are professional and friendly. We've had some fantastic meals, with 2 glasses of wine, apps, mains, and shared desert for approx. $120 and always walk away with a full tummy and happy heart. That, to me, is what a good french bistro is all about.

                                                      1. re: juno

                                                        I'm definitely with juno on this one. If I want a bistro experience, Le Paradis is where I'll go.

                                                        I love Le Paradis - not because the food blows my mind but because it is one of the only restaurants in Toronto that has delivered time and time again. At its price point ($15-17 mains), I could not ask for more than Le Paradis has supplied.

                                                        It is well-priced (far more affordable than most other restaurants mentioned in this thread), service is professional (many people on this board seem to complain about it but I personally have never been disappointed), food is always well-executed and satisfying, and the environment is friendly, casual and elegant.

                                                        The bouillabaisse/bourride is almost always delicious, and the fruit tarts are toothsome. I couldn't have said it better than juno: simple, straightforward dishes, unembellished but flavorful, which is what bistro cooking oughta be.

                                                        And thanks Juno for the parking tip!

                                                        1. re: Yum2MyTum

                                                          Fair enough yum2mytum. I understand. For you, Le Paradis is good value and I gather you've enjoyed many a meal there which is great to know. I have to say though, that referring to the environment as 'elegant' is a real stretch. But hey, it's been around for years and I am happy that you are happy with it. Sadly my experience was quite the opposite.

                                                          1. re: millygirl

                                                            Okay, millygirl, maybe I was exaggerating with "elegant" - but the folks in the Bistro can definitely be described in that manner, if not the decor itself. Oh, and given your impression of the restaurant as 'grungy' I have to ask - were you seated in the lower level of the restaurant? I would definitely recommend staying away from the basement portion of the restaurant which is past its prime; if you can, dine in the upper area, above the open kitchen, or in the front of the bistro near the bar.
                                                            Maybe give the place another shot; who knows, it may surprise you!

                                                              1. re: millygirl

                                                                Oops - looks like your post was cut off, millygirl.

                                                                1. re: Yum2MyTum

                                                                  I see that, thanks yum2mytum. Just the same old rant really. I was questioning why, if the restaurant's basement area is 'past it's prime' and they seem to do a great business - then why the hell can't they spend a few bucks and clean the place up? I'm not talking a total reno here. Simply throw some fresh paint on the walls. That's what kills me. Stuff like that always makes me shudder to think what goes on behind the scenes. Anyways, enough with my rant on Le Paradis.

                                                                  Hope you have a great evening at Niagara Street Cafe tomorrow. I look forward to reading all about it. Mr. Millygirl and I are off to Pastis. But that's a whole different story :) Cheers

                                                            1. re: millygirl

                                                              There is a bit of a difference between a bistro and a restaurant in France too.

                                                    2. Le Montmartre, 911 Sheppard Av West, Tel 416-630-3804
                                                      Cozy atmosphere; fireplace, attentive staff and good food for a reasonable price
                                                      Has been in business for many years.

                                                      1 Reply
                                                      1. re: cocolou

                                                        My last experience there a couple years ago was very ordinary. I didn't find much special about the food. Although, it was good, just nothing to bring me back. Nice place.

                                                      2. I'd characterize Batifole as "quietly competent". Hit and miss but worth a try.
                                                        Pop Bistro might be a good alternative. Don't expect a wow experience, just decently prepared food.

                                                        1 Reply
                                                        1. re: yaddayadda

                                                          Pop Bistro has always been good to me. But I think they had a chef change. The first time I had a whole grilled fish that was among the best I'd had. The owners and the small size make for an entertaining and intimate evening. But the last time, the food had come down a notch. But I'll go back to check up on them again soon.

                                                          While I liked Batifole, it was deafening to the point that my husband and I had to yell across our table for two just to hear each other --- painful. I wish they would work on that and I would go back.

                                                          Also, no one's mentioned Avant Gout. I haven't been back since they moved. Heard rumblings that the move may have prompted a decline in service and quality.

                                                          All three of these are in the same league as far as casual bistro style versus impress-a-first-date style.