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Feb 14, 2009 03:54 PM

Simple Bistro, Mountpleasant

This place is opposite Penrose Fish and Chips, next to the convenience store on the other side of the intersecting street from Celestin.

Not really sure if we liked it or not; we both had the same courses. To start with we had a beet salad, which seems to have become a staple in TO restaurants. It was good, but the accompanying goat cheese was a tiny triangle, not really enough to complement a fairly large serving of beets, certainlt nothing to SQUEAK about. For main we had steak frites, which was pretty good, if workmanlike. Was dressed with horseradish butter that I really enjoyed, but not the person I was with. Frites were pretty good, soaked up the red wine reduction the steak came with, but an accompanying chipotle mayonnaise was a bit overpowering. At $24 seemed a bit expensive.

We had been clocked by a parking guy so needed to get out within an hour, as a result we didn't have time for dessert, though what was on offer looked good.

The main positive was that the server was really pleasant. The owner was there too, made everyone welcome. It was a pretty welcoming place, with no pretensions.

To sum up, I would say its worth trying if you are in the area; nothing spectacular but it is nice to support small businesses.

If anyone else has opinions, I would be glad to hear!

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  1. Have been a couple of times, though not recently. Each time, the food has been well thought-out and executed. I think the chef was previous owner of JOV Bistro, and long-time sous to Jamie Kennedy, which would explain the frites.

    One reason I haven't been back in a while is that the small limited menu hadn't changed in a while. Can't say if it has, but definitely would agree with the comments of the previous poster on the quality of service.

    15 Replies
    1. re: Snarf

      I'd rate Simple Bistro above average - although I also think it pushes the price a little high for what you get. On my visits the service has always been excellent, but agree that the menu tends to the unexciting. A good local option, but not really a 'destination'.
      And on the chef side, that could be a little misleading as indeed the Executive Chef was at Jov - but that was after its heyday. The original owners left and he was the replacement (it subsequently closed).

      1. re: estufarian

        When I'm hungering for bistro and don't feel like driving further south to Le Paradis, Simple Bistro is my go-to joint. The cooking is maybe a cut above Le Paradis - though I find Le Paradis more enjoyable overall - and certainly better than the nearby just-to-the-west Coquine (unless you prefer Coquine's exhileratingly raucous vibe). Service is solicitous, the dishes familiar and well executed. As has been indicated, every dish seems about a buck or two higher than it should be, as are the wines. If it gets any higher, it'll be moving into Pastis Express price range, and Pastis Express is a much superior and more imaginative bistro. For better value in the Simple Bistro neighborhood, I often go to Cafe Pleiade, a few blocks to the south on Mount Pleasant Road. Cafe Pleiade is bistro cooking with a vaguely Greek twist, and damn tasty. And Cafe Pleiade's wine list has a better range and is priced much, much friendlier. But when you're in the mood for a simple bistro nosh in a serene atmosphere, and don't much care about a bill that's a few dollars more than you thought it would be, the appropriately-named Simple Bistro is your place in that Mount-Pleasant-south-of-Eglinton neighborhood.

        1. re: juno

          I also go to Cafe Pleiade more often. It's been a regular place for me ever since it opened - and even before that at the owners previous place (les Pleiades).I can't think of too many places/chefs that I've been patronizing for over 20 years.

          1. re: juno

            i would also note that while Coquine has a raucous vibe, the food is more affordable than that at simple, both of which make it more appealing to younger folk like meself.

          2. re: estufarian

            If this is considered "past it's prime" I'd say bring it on.

            Masayuki Tamaru has one of the most outstanding pedigrees of the local chefs.

            1. re: Googs

              I actually think that Joanne Kates is one of the better reviewers in town. At least she gives her reasons. But even she comments on the 'big shoes to fill' - Jov made its reputation under Owen Steinberg - all I was trying to do was ensure that any reader didn't confuse the 'original' Jov with the final version - which did indeed close.
              As for pedigree - sometimes a mutt can be more friendly and enjoyable.
              I haven't particularly noted Tamaru's progress through the Toronto scene.
              At Simple Bistro, I suggested 'above average but unexciting' - that doesn't ring like a great pedigree but is probably a fair assessment.
              Looking back over his other ventures I note (again have no way of knowing whether Tamaru was actually cooking):
              Azure: - a significant drop from Accolade (its predecessor at the Intercontinental) - frequented Accolade - only went once to Azure which was definitely not exciting.
              JKWB:- look back over my posts - I never really liked this place (except for the great winelist). I had one good lunch there and maybe half a dozen mediocre to bad experiences. I even received an offer by private email to be their guest - I didn't accept the free offer but did return. On that occasion I commented on a dish that seemed 'unusual' - two different cuts of beef (one was a short rib; don't recall the other) with one piece 'hot' and the other 'cold'. Couldn't figure out why they'd be served that way - turns out they were supposed to be hot! And my meal there in 2008 was one of my worst of the year (when Toby Nemeth was still there).
              Rouge: never went there.
              Crush: I recall that food was OK - my persistent memory is that there were a huge number of chefs in the kitchen considering the number of seats. I wondered if/how they could survive. Not sure why I stopped going - just slipped off my radar.
              O-Do - never heard of it (AFAIK).
              The Fifth: Another 'hate' of mine. Sufficiently so that I haven't even tried the latest incarnation.

              If that's the pedigree - I'm still waiting to be impressed.

              Incidentally - a rough glance suggests he was the chef at a number of those places when they closed (Jov, Rouge, Odo?).

              1. re: estufarian

                I understood that he was chef/owner of JOV at the time when the owners of Amaya presented an offer that could not be refused at a time when a new baby was on the way. If you can sell a lease at a premium, that's not a bad thing.

                I agree with the comments that the food and service are good, but could benefit from expanding the choices, or improving the value. The small fixed menu tends to discourage being a frequent customer.

                1. re: Snarf


                  Simple Bistro
                  619 Mount Pleasant Rd, Toronto, ON M4S2M5, CA

                  1. re: Googs

                    Actually their dinner menu looks really good...

                    1. re: Squeakycheese

                      Actually, I find their dinner was pretty good, and they had a slightly different menu back when I went last year.

                      Duck Breast and Rabbit Two Ways

                      Both entrees were cooked very well and great service as well.
                      The sauce for the meat was excellent as well. Two grainy cellphone pics of the entree.

                      1. re: spoonandsoup

                        To be clear, It's the repetition on the brunch menu I'm griping about. Nice to hear that the dinner was good.

                        I've never found the food to be anything less than very well executed.

                        1. re: Snarf

                          Yes, brunch menus. They tend to be repetitive everywhere.

                2. re: estufarian

                  Well if "outstanding pedigrees" means working for mediocre restaurants with a very short stay each time, I'm sorry to say that Toronto is populated by such so called Chefs!

                  1. re: likeit

                    This restaurant got reviewed in the National Post this weekend, conclusion was pretty much the consensus here, good but nothing to write home about. I hope they succeed, the staff are so nice.

                    1. re: Squeakycheese

                      I went a while back. Yup, really nice service but the food was nothing memorable. I also found it a bit pricey for what you got, but that was when the produce of rice/wheat/produce was skyrocketing.

          3. i thought pricing was fine, service was attentive but unobtrusive, the dishes were executed exactly how i expected and it was all in all a good experience. great? not really but for the price paid exactly what i wanted and expected...can really ask to be wowed all the time or can we be satisfied with dollars spent and expectations met..i think so

            1. thoughts on this place for brunch?
              might try it this weekend

              8 Replies
              1. re: sleepy

                Great food at a great price! Period!!

                1. re: Charles Yu

                  Hi Charles,
                  Agree that the food here is good. However, I've always found Simple Bistro to be a little expensive for what you get. Not good enough to be a 'dstination' and a bit more expensive than the other places in the neighbourhood.
                  However, I certainly agree that the food is always good (not sure I'd move as far as 'great'). My call, A very good neighbourhood place.

                  1. re: estufarian

                    How would you say it compares with Moguette Bistro?

                    1. re: kawarthagirl

                      Haven't tried it yet. Both times I tried, the reservation book was full!

                      1. re: kawarthagirl

                        Both Simple Bistro and Mogette - on the same block and within a few doors of each other - are solid bistros, a cut or two above most other such bistros in Toronto. Simple seems to specialize in classic bistro dishes, at prices a tad higher - in my view - than they should be. For the more jaded bistro patron, Mogette offers more twists on traditional bistro classics, at what seem to be reasonable prices given the quality and imagination of the dishes. I'm particularly partial to its version of cassoulet, and its nightly specials are always inventive. Its wine list also seems more reasonable. As you can see, I lean towards Mogette at the moment, but Simple offers a good alternative in straightforward bistro cooking. About $120-$130 per couple, with wine, tax and tip at Simple, if I recall correctly, and slightly less at Mogette. In short, little to choose between them.

                        1. re: juno

                          I recall the 3 times I've ben at Simple, it was over $150 - approaching $170; but perhaps my wine tastes are more expensive than yours.

                    2. re: Charles Yu

                      ended up going last weekend for brunch, it was pretty good.

                      simple bistro has a kind of relaxed, down to earth vibe.

                      i had the eggs bene w/ salmon :)

                    3. re: sleepy

                      I find Simple consistently good. Their brunch is very good and service is great. The eggs bene is served on a croissant, the french toast is more the savoury type. Desserts are amazing, try the chocolate thing and I've been told the cheesecake is to die for.