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Best of the New Bistro Bunch?!

Charles Yu Mar 21, 2009 03:30 PM

I have noticed in the past year, a huge number of Bistro type eateries have sprung up all over the city. These include Grace, Fare, Atelier Thuet, Bite Me, Coquine, Tati, Merlot, Black Hoof, Harbord Room, Deluxe, Melanie's, Weezies.......etc., to name a few. ( I left out Nota Bene since the place is too big to be catagorize as a bistro ).
Question - Which of these new comer has the BEST food? OK! May be to single out the best is kind of tough. How about the top 3?!

  1. m
    millygirl Mar 21, 2009 08:07 PM

    I've not been to many on your list but did want to point out that Weezie's is not new. They've been around at least 2 years. That is one that I've been to and the food is very good and great price point. Not a huge menu but what they do, they do well.

    1. c
      childofthestorm Mar 22, 2009 06:32 AM

      I've missed a few on that list but my favourites thus far have been Harbord Room and Delux.

      1. Dimbulb Mar 22, 2009 06:51 AM

        If by Bistro, you mean small-ish neighborhood spots. I'd go to:

        Black Hoof
        Harbord Room
        Atelier Thuet over Bite Me

        Merlot on Bloor W is a snore and has been around 15 years or so.

        3 Replies
        1. re: Dimbulb
          Charles Yu Mar 22, 2009 09:27 AM

          My mistake about Merlot, I mean Loire. Also, there's Mogette?!

          1. re: Charles Yu
            Sui_Mai May 8, 2009 07:52 AM

            Don't forget Sauvignon! haha - can't resist a bad pun. (actually is kind of a cute place)

            My favourite bistro is delux on Ossington (and it's a real bistro in the rudimentry sense that it's lovely and honest casual comfort food).

            I've heard good things about Loire (Chatto, Kates et al) and of course the Harbord Room too.

            1. re: Sui_Mai
              Full tummy May 8, 2009 08:38 PM

              Sauvignon has been around for a while, though, so not one of the "new bunch"....

        2. p
          peppermint pate Mar 22, 2009 12:10 PM

          Hi Charles - I've been to many, but not all, on your list. I really enjoy the food at Harbord Room - it's a cool, cozy space, romantic and has a real buzzing energy. Also nice to sit at the bar. I also enjoyed my meal at Grace last summer, out on the very pretty patio. The room is quite beautiful - light, airy. I've heard of service issues there but we had a totally friendly unpretentious waitress so no issues for us. Black Hoof has great charcuterie and dishes with marrow - for me, it's more of a bar with very good snacks but that's because I find the food a bit rich to fill up on for dinner. With all that said, I don't think I'd categorize any of these as "bistro" - they are small, neighbourhood spots with very good food, though.

          Of the others on your list (above and below), I've heard pretty consistently great things about Weezie's and Loire and mostly great about Delux. All of those are on my list. Can't speak to the others. What/where is Melanie's? That one doesn't ring a bell.

          2 Replies
          1. re: peppermint pate
            millygirl Mar 22, 2009 12:52 PM

            Melanie's Bistro is on Danforth, at Coxwell. It's been getting a lot of press lately. I've not been. We went to Mogette and it was just okay for us. The room is quite lovely but the food was forgettable. I doubt I would make a return visit which is unfortunate, I really wanted to like the place.

            1. re: millygirl
              neighborguy Mar 23, 2009 04:26 PM

              Melanie's: Go.

              Have to admit I'm prejudiced as it's in my neighborhood but I find the food on their well edited menu always well executed and satisfying on all counts (I'm not crazy about the room -- it's still going thru development phases) Good thing I don't have a sweet tooth as we are frequently seated next to the cake cooler and the house-made desserts look great and tasted great when I have indulged.

              There were some previous postings here over whether or not Melanie's deserved the three stars awarded by that culinary authority Toronto Life. All I can say to that is everyone in the blogosphere is allowed to have more than his opinion. LIke I say, I'm a fan.

              To address the OP, I the only other place I've been to on Charles Yu's list is Weezie's. I liked very much and would return. Nice room, more grown-up than Melanie's, if I were to compare the two.

          2. always_eating Mar 22, 2009 10:30 PM

            I've been to about half on your list and would choose The Harbord Room, Weezie's and Delux. Not on your list I would recommend Forte Bistro & Lounge.


            1 Reply
            1. re: always_eating
              deabot Mar 23, 2009 02:37 PM

              I enjoy eating out at the Black Hoof, Weezie's and the Harbord Room. Out of the three, I think the Harbord Room has the best food -the atmosphere is lively and charming and Weezie's has decent well priced food but the atmosphere is more understated-don't really find desserts great there in terms of selection or quality. The Black Hoof is nice too but it is more casual surroundings than either the Harbord Room or Weezie's and the menu is limited to well you know ...charcuterie, meat. And it gets quite smokey inside easily you will definitely walk out smelling like food!

              Am also wanting to try Tati and Deluxe

            2. j
              JennaBean Apr 20, 2009 10:15 AM

              Three friends and I went for a birthday brunch at Atelier Thuet yesterday and everyone (include my SO who is a picky chef) was thrilled with their meals.

              At the table we consumed the following:
              Bread basket
              Two orders of the Kobe hash
              One tartare
              One french toast and pork loin sandwich

              To say that we were stuffed is an understatement.

              The menu says that both the bread basket and the Charcuterie are for two people to share. Well it was me and three men who like to eat and between the four of us we were not able to finish either. The standout was the duck and the caribou. Both of the terrines could have used a little finishing salt but were tasty nonetheless.

              The standout dish for three of four at the table was the kobe but for me it was just a big portion of beef. The frites were a very tasty side but again between the four of us we were not able to finish them.

              The tartare was light, and fresh and tasty. My SO would have list some additional garnish but to me it was lovely.

              The french toast sandwich was AMAZING but again so very large. My friends who ordered it is 220 lbs and 6'4 and although he tried, he wasn't able to finish it.

              We were so full, we skipped dinner last night! Really it was a very large amount of food.

              All and all this is a great brunch spot but arrive hungry - very hungry or like us, you'll be leaving with a doggie bag!

              1. MichelinStarChaser Apr 20, 2009 12:24 PM

                Out of these, my top 3 would be Grace, Harbord Room and Deluxe. (It almost pains me to say this because they're all small-ish places and if they become too popular, I'll never be able to get in!)
                Honorable mention to Black Hoof which I absolutely adore, but I don't want to eat charcuterie too often.

                1. m
                  markdsgraham May 7, 2009 06:27 PM

                  Had a very disappointing experience at Tati. After reading good things on here, I decided to try it. It was right before Lent, or maybe on a Sunday, and I was craving beef so I tried the steak tartar. Now, I'm not an expert but have had steak tartar four or five places--this was bland, except it had too much salt. My dining partner had the fondue--also bland. It came only with bread and the cheese was too mild (for our tastes, at least). I've heard enough good things about this place that I would be willing to try it again: any recommendations on what to order, anybody?

                  We did get great service.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: markdsgraham
                    neoplop Jul 7, 2009 11:39 AM

                    Tati is great for the basics. Their NY strip and entrecote are the best meat I have tasted in Toronto. (Ruth's Chris is crap.) The frites are also in my top five. The Macaroni Gratin is also some of the best mac & cheese I have ever had. The black cod was nice.

                    Don't expect anything enlightening from the bar -- the waitstaff make their own drinks.

                    The wines by the glass are excellent.

                  2. g
                    galincity May 18, 2009 08:33 AM

                    Grace is fantastic! I have been there twice so far and have had good service and great food. Small restaurant with a nice vibe - romantic for couples who like good food.

                    Atelier Thuet is amazing for brunch! Unique and delicious brunch food. I have yet to go for dinner but am anxious to try.

                    Harbor Room is also fantastic. Nice feel to the restaurant and great bar area. Food is also yummy.

                    Coquine is a bit of a scene...and I have not eaten there but the food did look good - simple french bistro type items.

                    The above mentioned restaurants all have great quality food and you know the chef is in the kitchen!

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: galincity
                      Googs May 18, 2009 09:33 AM

                      Coquine's food is meh and the service is ditzy.

                    2. w
                      Wino In Training Jun 3, 2009 08:14 PM

                      My wife and I ate at Tati on Saturday night. We had a great experience. Luckily we ended up at the front window table, which although small had plenty of room around it (that's not the case with most other tables that we saw). My wife had the French onion soup and boeuf bourgignon, which were both delicious (a bit salty as a combo but that's not unexpected with those two). I had the wild mushroom feuillate - outstanding. For the main I had the tartare. I noticed a previous post noting that it was bland.... something must have happened in the meantime because ths was most definitely not bland. Very flavourful actually. Very, very tasty.

                      Good deal for the price.

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: Wino In Training
                        neoplop Jul 7, 2009 11:42 AM

                        Yes the feuilleté (also misspelled on Tati's menu to my horror) is excellent.

                        The place is extraordinarily loud when more than a handful of tables are full...

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