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Oct 24, 2008 11:03 AM

Le Select Bistro and The Fat Belgian (downtown Toronto)

If you've eaten dinner at either or both of these places in the past few months, please let me know what is memorable and superdelicious and what should be avoided at all costs. I tend to order the "weirdest" stuff on any menu. If I saw any sweetbreads, escargots, or other such delicacies, I'd be tempted to go in that direction, so stop me if they are incompetent!

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  1. As a "regular" at FB, stick to the "basics" - Moules Frites. I love their fries. Though they are not in the same style as the frites in Belgium (or France), where I happen to be at this very moment. I've tasted practically everything on the menu and their moules frites seem to be the most consistent. The appetizer with beef and brie is also pretty good, but the beef is not always as tender as I like.

    1. No comparison...Fat Belgian is only ok ...was very disappointed....Le Select by comparison is stellar...also Le Select ambiance service and location is superior...Miranda

      1. I can only speak for Le Select (have never been to FB) but I find LS both authentic and consistent. And Mr. Rabbit is prone to ordering the "weird" stuff (sweetbreads, cheeks, various gutty things) and he reports that LS does well with these French classics. Also, they have a lovely zinc bar and a superlative wine list.

        I have a full review (from April 08) with some photos here:

        2 Replies
        1. re: Rabbit

          Rabbit, I always enjoy your blog links. Thanks!

          1. re: Rabbit

            I made sure to sit at the zinc bar to enjoy an aperitif and a boiled egg before my friends arrived.

          2. Also haven't tried FB, but in response to your request, recently tried the bone marrow at Le Select. Served a la Flintstone, one large bone on a rectangular plate with celery, sea salt, and toast. Very simple, perfectly executed. Also tried the Cassoulet, and found the flavours quite good, but the skin on the confit wasn't crisp.

            5 Replies
            1. re: Snarf

              WOW! Sounds right up my alley. I've only had the bone marrow at Thuet in the past.

              1. re: Snarf

                Sadly, they are out of bone marrow until Friday (supplier issue).

                1. re: Food Tourist

                  Tried the marrow. Unfortunately, I think I find marrow to rich for my tastes. I tried really hard to enjoy osso bucco in Italy, but to no avail. This version was quite 'bland', as the only seasoning was from the roasting itself (the bone), and some fleur de sel on the side. Great presentation though.

                  1. re: BokChoi

                    You're right, it's a fairly basic dish. The presumption is that the richness of the fat within the marrow is where you get the depth of flavour. That richness can also be offputting. It can also be cut by a deep glass of red wine, such as a Rhone Villages.

                    As you note, marrow is not a dish that has seen much in the way of creative presentations or ingredient combinations. Could be fodder for someone's creativity. Maybe some white beans, toaster rosemary, marrow on a crisp crouton. Hmm

                    1. re: Snarf

                      Snarf, thanks for the suggestions.

                      I think the Italian preparation method of the Osso Bucco is more to my liking. It incorporates many more flavours and textures and this, I think, helps remove the heaviness inherent to the marrow itself. At least one is not forced to consume bite, after bite, after bite of translucent 'fat'. But to be honest, even OB was too rich for me at times during my visit to Italy.

                      LS did serve it alongside the croutons, which did add a nice textural contrast. But I think they still need a little something else to 'cut the fat'. This dish ate like a main - I was almost ready to cancel my second course after attempting to consume this marrow. I hope they take your suggestions into consideration.

              2. I'd recommend the braised beef cheeks at Le Select. Haven't tried the Fat Belgian though.

                1 Reply
                1. re: GoodGravy

                  My friend asked me what to order and I suggested the beef cheeks to her, based on this rec. She was thrilled with her dish! I tasted a small piece and enjoyed it, too.