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May 13, 2010 06:14 PM

Current 'Top 3' best Bistros?!

The past few years have seen the addition of quite a few new bistros to the list of existing old stalwart like Batifole, Pastis Express, Fat Cat, Nota Bene..etc. Some of the standouts include Globe, Mogette, Simple, Delux, Harbord Room, Melanie's, Tatti, Citizen, Weezies, Loire.... This year alone, we see the addition of some more fine ones. These include Paramour, Earth, Hoof Cafe, Gilead, Black Hoof, Wine Bar.. to name a few. With such an impressive list to choose from, which in your opinion, are the 3 ' Must try' for visitors to Toronto?! Any associated standout dishes worth mentioning?! eg., The calves liver of Pastis. Cheers!!

354 King St E, Toronto, ON M5A1K9, CA

744 Gerrard St E, Toronto, ON M4M1Y3, CA

92 Ossington Ave, Toronto, ON M6J2Z4, CA

Harbord Room
89 Harbord St, Toronto, ON M5S1G4, CA

581 Mt Pleasant Rd, Toronto, ON M4S, CA

The Black Hoof
928 Dundas St W, Toronto, ON M6J, CA

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  1. The black hoof/Hood Cafe for the bone marrow and foie gras. In my opinion the other dishes were nothing special.

    1 Reply
    1. re: elvisahmed

      I thought the 'tongue sandwich' was pretty good?! No?!

    2. I mentioned on my blog that The Black Hoof would be on every list I would make about eating in Toronto right now. Except a vegetarian one. My current fave would be the Pork Belly and Rhubarb.

      I happen to like Splendido a lot. I recommend any vegetable dish. They do them really well. Service is tops here.

      hmn... a third I'd rec... probably Globe, for its local fare and general all-around resto. Not too fancy, not too expensive, really nice atmosphere, good food, and local to boot. Good walk-about neighbourhood afterward.

      I'm not sure you'd call any of these a "bistro" though!

      124 Danforth Avenue, Toronto, ON M4K1N1, CA

      88 Harbord Street, Toronto, ON M5S 1G5, CA

      The Black Hoof
      928 Dundas St W, Toronto, ON M6J, CA

      2 Replies
      1. re: jlunar

        I was initially thinking of adding Splendido to the list too. However, I think their price point is a bit steep to be regarded as a Bistro?! IMO, I think bistros should price their mains below $30.
        BTW, I'll be giving L.A.B a try next Wednesday. May be I'll add it to the list afterwards?!

        88 Harbord Street, Toronto, ON M5S 1G5, CA

        1. re: Charles Yu

          So, for a Bistro a main should be below $30 but it's OK if the meal for two is $180 or so? That what it can cost at Note Bene or Globe.

      2. I don't think Citizen, which closed last year was a standout and an surprised you even mentioned it in the same sentence as some of the others. Ruby Watch Co. is now in that space.

        1. What local restaurants are covered by the following definition of bistro?

          Born and bred in Montreal the above definition has always described a bistro for me. Where indeed are the establishments that serve "moderately priced simple meals in a modest setting"?

          16 Replies
          1. re: mrbozo

            Bistro Camino, Gallery Grill, Osgoode Hall's dining room!!! (Some may disagree that Hart House and Osgoode are "modest" settings though)

            Gallery Grill
            7 Hart House Cir, Toronto, ON M5S, CA

            Bistro Camino
            2750 Danforth Ave, Toronto, ON M4C1L7, CA

            Osgoode Hall
            130 Queen St W, Toronto, ON M5H 2N6, CA

            1. re: T Long

              The prices at Osgoode hall are not typical "bistro prices" . I've never been but I know how much it cost when my sisters and parents ate lunch there a few weeks ago.

              1. re: foodyDudey

                Mains range from $12.00 - $24.00, and there's a three-course chef's menu (prix fixe) for $21.00.

                Menu appears fairly typical of a bistro:


                1. re: Full tummy

                  Thanks for the link to the Osgoode menu...never had any luck finding it in the past.

                2. re: foodyDudey

                  I usually end up getting their fixe prix entry...about $ typically $30 pp tips and taxes included. Pay similar or more at Osgoode, less at Bistro Camino. All moderately priced imo.

                  1. re: T Long

                    Whoops, meant above that I pay similar or more at the Gallery Grill (compared to Osgoode).

                  2. re: foodyDudey

                    i wish posters would stick with places they have actually been to rather than passing along other's comments, it really is unfair. Grapevine and gossip do little to serve the community. Word of mouth is an important factor, but it needs to be from those who have experienced the resto

                    1. re: ingloriouseater

                      I don't need to have eaten there to mention prices. My mother told me that after taxes their bill was around $50 pp, for lunch. She also commented on the smallish servings.

                3. re: mrbozo

                  Based on the description - Le Paradis and Tati fit the bill for me. Great, reasonably priced food with a bustling atmosphere.

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

                  1. re: MeMeMe

                    Here's another vote for Le Paradis, which I regard as the benchmark in Toronto for "moderately priced simple meals in a modest setting". It has been around longer than just about every other French bistro in the city for a reason - it's consistently good, and rarely has an off night. Not great, perhaps, but eminently satisfying, which is what bistro cooking should be. Though all the menu items are solid, my favorite is the veal kidneys (which you can't find on too many bistro menus). Easy to take wine prices as well. Good value. About $75-$100 a couple, with wine, all in.

                    Further uptown, I like Pastis Express, probably the best of the bunch, but certainly not the best value - an imaginative menu, well executed, but a tad high end for a bistro, which may take it out of the "modest" class. The wine prices also aren't easy to take. But overall, a wonderful place - if you can handle $125-$150 a couple..

                    In third place, and farther uptown, I'd put Mogette, on Mt. Pleasant Rd., relatively new to the bistro scene, which does a mean cassoulet, but then everything on the smallish menu is nicely done. Good service. Offbeat wine list at standard markups. I put it at about $100-$125 a couple if you go for glasses of wine rather than a bottle.

                    But then, being a bistro enthusiast, I've been to just about all the above-mentioned joints listed in the thread above, and most have at least something going for them, though there are a few whose prices, in my view, don't qualify them to be listed as bistros. A new one I rather like after just one visit - though, given that it's almost around the corner from me, I propose going a few times more over the next little while - is Steak Frites, recently arrived on Yonge St., just north of Lawrence Ave. All the mains are under $20! And there are least a dozen bottles on the wine list between $25 and $30, which you don't ordinarily see on that high-rent strip of Yonge St., where a bottle under $40 is a rarity. All this and tasty food as well. Is that "bistro" enough for you?

                  2. re: mrbozo

                    Bistro Tournesol fits that definition for me.

                    Bistro Tournesol
                    406 Dupont St, Toronto, ON M5R1V9, CA

                    1. re: caviartothegeneral

                      Is it still good?! It must be years since I last tried it! Surprise its still in business since it kind of disappear from the chow radar screen?!

                      1. re: Charles Yu

                        It is still good -- I was last there in mid-March and was very satisfied with my meal. Good food prepared well with very personable service and a reasonably-priced wine list. They still do a lot of business from the Tarragon Theatre crowd.

                    2. re: mrbozo

                      Wow. Thanks to everyone for the reviews and suggestions—keep them coming if possible. This certainly makes it fun to choose a place that's in keeping with the true bistro spirit as outlined by the link I posted.

                      1. and Melanie's Bistro now has Mill Street brew on tap!, which makes it even more of a neighbourhood gem for me (although I'm not sure it's a 'must try' for visitors unless they're in the area... then definitely).

                        Melanie's Bistro
                        1870 Danforth Ave, Toronto, ON M4C1J4, CA

                        4 Replies
                        1. re: JamieK

                          Oh, gosh, I haven't been in a while. Really need to get back there again. Any change in the menu?

                          1. re: Full tummy

                            I haven't been in a while myself but noticed today on the outside blackboard menu the news about the beer on tap and also one of the specials today was "bbq-style" pulled pork sandwich. I don't recall ever seeing that on the menu before.

                            1. re: JamieK

                              Now that is a hubby-style dish! The specials are often the best things at Melanie's.

                              1. re: JamieK

                                I've had the pulled-pork sandwich before, in February, I think - it was good, not outstanding but tasty. Actually, I haven't had a bad meal in three visits, one dinner, one lunch and one brunch. Yesterday I had the Newfoundland breakfast - very good.