Midi Bistro (March 08) - A pleasant find!
Midi is a French bistro on McCaul, just around the corner from the busy Baldwin Street restaurant strip. The room is pretty and warm, with red walls and red leather backs on the chairs, a bar along the back wall, large mirrors, French movie posters and an all-around authentic bistro feel.
The menu is designed so that one can order two or three-course prix fix dinners ($28 and $32 respectively), with mains otherwise coming in at $21.50 and apps variously priced. There were four daily specials — soup (lentil), appetizer (gravlax!), fish (tilapia), and a beef burgundy — which did have some influence on our menu decisions. We were offered some tap water (often refilled from a pretty white pitcher), and some really amazing crusty country bread while we worked on our wine and waited for dinner. The wine list is mostly French, and favours the Languedoc region. It is reasonably priced, most in the $30- or $40-something range and maxing out well below $100. Our Grenache was very drinkable and worked well with our meals. The house-cured gravlax presented as nice portion of fish layered on top of a spinach salad and dressed in tangy, citrus-y vinaigrette, along with some capers. It was a good size for splitting and a pleasant start to the meal.
Mr. Rabbit went with the beef burgundy for his main, which he said was very well executed — beef, bacon, mushrooms with some braised veg on top — everything you’d expect, and with a tasty sauce. Very fortifying. I had the lamb shank, a regular menu item our server insisted has been a customer favourite since they opened. This is, I discovered, with good reason. The lamb was tender, delicious, falling off the bone, and served with matchstick vegetables, still slightly crunchy (in a good way), and floating in a vermouth reduction that was a perfect complement to this dish. The shank was very sizeable, with lots of meat left for Mr. Rab to scavenge once I’d had my feed. We were also brought a dish of frites for sharing. These were slightly McDonald’s-y, but still really good and satisfying.
Dessert involves a lot of bistro favourites — profiteroles, crème brulee, a chocolate walnut cake, and a tarte tatin (our choice). The tarte was a small individual serving with a cookie-like crust and beautiful rusty-brown apples. The pie worked well with the cinnamon ice cream, which was actually kind of special. We washed this down with a calvados and Mr. Rabbit had some coffee (with sugar wrapped in those pretty paper cubes that one gets in France).
The kitchen was perhaps a little slow, given that the restaurant wasn’t very busy, but it wasn’t annoyingly slow, and I’d take the relaxed pace over any rush. Our server was affable enough with a slight air of French indifference — but in a way that only heightened the bistro experience as opposed to making us want to leave.
Overall, a really positive experience. Everything very pleasantly met or slightly exceeded our modest expectations. It was solid. I can’t recommend this as a destination, but if you’re in the hood, give it a chance.
Oh, the financials… Midi calculated our bill as one 3 course prix fixe ($32) plus one entrée ($21.40), wine ($38ish), coffee and calvados ($9ish)… $140 with tax and tip. Well worth it.
I work in the area and have tried both Bodega and Midi, but only for lunch. I much prefer Midi and it has become almost a weekly ritual for me! The quiche for lunch is absolutely amazing - I think the best I have ever had. Very light and fluffy with a melt-in-your-mouth crust. (note that sometimes they run out of certain types of quiche if you take a late lunch, so go early for the best selection) I also love that you can have both frites AND salad so there's no need to choose. I also tried the quiche at Bodega - it was ok, nothing special.
I have loved Midi for quite sometime..until recently when I found the quality just didn't measure up anymore.
I have always find their menu (food and wine) a little to limiting, but the food had kind of always made up for it. Plus, the establish is just ..such a charm: clean, pleasant, warm and inviting.
But for the last two visit that we have made this year, they have certainly disappinted us. The mussels dishes were just way too salty for both times, and terribly skimpy.
The frites were a joke; they hugn lumpy and cold in the cone shaped basket. Our server was too preoccupied with the other patrons that we decided to give up complaining, on both occasions.
The Riesling we had was good, as always. But really, you have to update the wine list once so often.
We do love the atmosphere and our server, however, It's one of those places that you always back to hope for an awakening experience, for old times sake.
Have to concur. My wife have been twice - the first time was in 2006 and it was terrific in every respect - felt like a hidden gem. Had been meaning to return but didn't get back until a few months ago. All in all, it was pretty lacklustre. Food that was previously perfectly executed had failings, service which on the previous occasion was truly professional was now simply ok (marred in part by cleaning up adjacent tables with some sort of noxious cleaning substance). If I hear some more positive experiences like Rabbit's I'll give it another go.
re: Ben Reiner
Hi Ben, I hope you and your wife will give Midi another try. I have been going to this restaurant for many years now and am satisfied with each dining experience. Each time I bring along a new dinner companion they are always impressed with the quality of the food. My most recent visit was last month. I had the spinach and beet salad, moules frites and tarte tartin. My friend also had the mussels and we both commented on how 'plump' and perfectly cooked they were. Through the years the only thing that has gone down is the service. Perhaps they should hire new wait staff?
Hey everyone, just wanted to add my two cents. Went to MIDI last night cause it was raining and it was closeby to take advantage of the prix fixe menu
I had the charcuterie plate which was pretty good, two large slices of proscuitto and two ample servings of duck pate with some salad on the side doused in lemon olive oil dressing. My main was the moules frites-the mussels were perfectly cooked, was an extremely large portion and absorbed the flavours of the wine broth it was steamed in. Frites were okay kind of reminded me of McDonalds fries-the best frites I've had were at Starfish.
Lastly, the dessert was tart tatin (correct my spelling please) crust was amazing, apples were caramelized beautifully. It was a fantastic dessert.
Mr. Muffin Top had the pea soup which was delicious, burger that was very average and creme brulee which was OKAY (not very sweet and not as creamy as I like it to be)
The food was fine and I'd go back for the food if not for the service. Unfortunately our server was very pleasant and kind-however there was only ONE server for the entire restaurant so dinner took FOREVER. It took about 45 minutes for us to get our mains, and it took about 35 minutes from when I finished dessert till I could flag her down to take my credit card! They really need to hire another server-there is no way that one server can wait tables for 30 people at a time.
So all in all, not a bad experience but I'm not going back till they do some timing improvements.