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A quick review of Biff's

Went to Biff's for dinner Friday night with SO and we had a great time there. After having been to Auberge du Pommier, we were looking forward to seeing whether Biff's would also live up to the O&B brand.

We had a reservation at 7:30 but ran a little late and the place we fairly busy. We were told that our table is being prepared and it would take a couple of minutes. We were then seated and our water/beverage/bread arrived promptly. We got a dozen oysters to start at $1 a piece and they were from New Brunswick if I remember correctly. They were smaller in size but were delicious nonetheless. I was tempted to order another dozen but I knew we had more food coming.

We order a 2 course prix fixe for $29 that included chicken liver parfait and duck confit. We ordered another main - the lamb shank. All three dishes were above average and falvourful. The duck confit was melt in your mouth good and the portions sizes were good. The lamb shank was fairly well cooked and the accompanied eggplants were delicious as well.

The one thing of note was the level of service was just as good as that offered at Auberge du Pommier. The entire staff all carried themselves professionally and were warm and friendly and non pretentious. One wow moment occurred when I came back from the washroom and one of the waitresses was walking across the room. She stopped mid-stride and stepped back just so she would not be in my way and she said "after you" with a big smile. She easily could have finished her walk in front of me as she was not really in my way at all, but little things like that really showed how professional and courteous the staff is. Another instance I saw one of the waitresses squatting down to take orders for two senior diners which once again showed how attentive they were.

The bill came to $95 w/ tax a tip for dozen oysters, one appetizer, two mains and a pint of beer. We had a great time and will definitely return.

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  1. Useful review, with all the necessary info and not long-winded. Thank you!

    1. Has anyone else has noticed an improvement in the food at Biff's lately? My dinner at Biff's last week was very good.

      I ordered the beet salad, the Pickerel(perfectly cooked) in Smoked Haddock chowder, and the Medjool date cake. My friends ordered Caesar salad, escargots, fork-tender lamb shank, bouillabaise (not traditional- this one used salmon, mussels, clams) and profiteroles.

      Thought the meal was reasonably priced considering the high quality and the neighbourhood.

      -----
      Biff's Bistro
      4 Front St. E, Toronto, ON M5E 1B2, CA

      8 Replies
      1. re: phoenikia

        BIFF's has always been a good resto; it is the underappreciated sibling in the O & B empire. I wish I could go more often, but alas there are too many restos on my growing list.

        1. re: Dean Tudor

          While I agree Biff's has always been a good restaurant, my dinner last week was even more delicious than previous decent meals I've ordered at Biff's.

          1. re: phoenikia

            I was also at Biff's last week, and was happy with what I got for the price. We were mainly tempted by the $1 oysters after 5pm (as many as you want! I don't know how they can afford to keep it up!). My husband started with the fricasse of escargots, then had the boudin noir. Our friend had the beet salad then the lamb's tongue. I myself started with the bone marrow pudding, followed by the sweetbread. Not the best fried sweetbread I ever had, but the celeriac underneath was very enjoyable - if not a bit too runny. For desserts we had the profiteroles and my friend got the chocolate pot de creme which she absolutely loved. We brought our own bottle of wine, and wasn't met with any cold attitudes about it. In fact the sommelier (I assumed he was, because opening the bottle was the only time he served us) was really warm and started chatting to us about the winery because it's one of his favourites. It was a fantastic way to spend a Tuesday evening (and the restaurant was actually pretty busy for a Tuesday night). Actually, given the prices aren't too out of line with for example, Le Select or Coquine, and the welcoming service, I think I have found a new go-to spot when I'm craving French bistro food...

            -----
            Le Select
            432 Wellington St W, Toronto, ON M5V1E3, CA

            Coquine
            2075 Yonge St, Toronto, ON M4S2A4, CA

        2. re: phoenikia

          I went a month ago and was disappointed in the service. The waiter was completely indifferent, he took my drink order and then left abruptly before taking my companion's. When he brought my drink he took off quickly before we could order the other one. We couldn't flag anyone down to refill our water. I had to get up 3 times myself to get the pitcher. The food was ok but I was expecting a higher level of service from an O&B restaurant

          1. re: plavka

            Sorry to hear you had a bad service experience, plavka.

            Our server was pleasant, professional and courteous, as was the hostess. Our water glasses were refilled countless times, so we never had to flag anyone down.

            While it sounds like service can be hit or miss at Biff's, I've lucked out with good to excellent service on all my visits.

            1. re: phoenikia

              I too am sorry to hear the bad experience. The reason why I started the thread was due to the excellent service I received. I've been to Auberge, Biff's and the new O&B Cafe Grill on Front and have never had an issue with service. Perhaps it was just bad luck.

              This definitely got me thinking about the buck a shuck again...

            2. re: plavka

              I have had good experiences at BIFF as well and would reccommend it. Plavka, did you BTW deduct the mandatory service charge? I think that wold have been the answer, then leave perhaps what you wanted (if anything) and explain why) After all, the tip is for service and if more diners did that, perhaps we would all benefit.

            3. re: phoenikia

              excellent service. tedde was attentive without hovering and provided warm friendly service through out. I don't know how Biff's Bistro manage to retain such incredible staff. and $1 oysters after 5pm!?! smart! will definitely come back for more!

            4. We had dinner at Biffs last night and were very impressed on all fronts. The Boudin Noir was just outstanding, as was the Boeuf Bourguiginon. Service was attentive and informed. (There was a good Cotes du Nuits @$77 in the wine list)

              1. Another thumbs up for Biff's. We found the food to be solid, reasonably prices, many interesting options on the menu and good service. I'm quite fond of the steak at Le Select, but I would place everything else we had above other French Bistros like Le Select, Batifole, Bodega, La Palette, or Le Paradis. The cooking is refined which can lack in other bistros. The only thing lacking is the room doesn't feel cosy. I thought the room looked much better when they used to use tablecloths.
                A quick note about service. There was three staff members on; two servers and a manager. No bartender, hostess, food runners etc.. There was a couple people in the bar and they had 10 tables in the dining room. Despite running a little thin, I never felt service suffered.

                -----
                Batifole
                744 Gerrard St E, Toronto, ON M4M1Y3, CA

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

                Le Select
                432 Wellington St W, Toronto, ON M5V1E3, CA

                La Palette
                492 Queen St W, Toronto, ON M5V, CA

                1. Another vote for Biff's this past week! My original plan was to slurp down a bunch of oysters and sip some cava alongside...but one thing led to another..2 dozen oysters, frites, an order of liver and a prix fixe for my eating partner /husband (ceasar salad, duck, chocolate torte) plus a couple of beers and man, we were happy, but full campers! Bill was 116.00 before tip. Service was professional, warm and polite. We sat in the lounge area and chatted a bit with other diners. I always get a little rush when staff offer me ice water, from the tap, up front (instead of pushing mineral water). Great spot for a mid-week date after work with hubby - we will definitely be back. I love a good bistro-licious liver and theirs was stellar! I may wait till post winterlicious for round two though...unless the oyster craving gets too great (which is possible). Only thing missing was a good dark beer on draft..

                  1. Wanted to add my review for Biff's.

                    Dined last Friday with 2 other dining companions.
                    The server was wonderful! Cheery and very knowledgable about the dishes.

                    The three of us shared a dozen oysters (at $1 each -- available in the dining room also although the sign says in the bar, steak tartare and crispy pigs ears).
                    Oysters were fresh, if a little small.
                    The crispy pigs ears came with pork rinds. The pig ears were great, but being from a culture that KNOWS pork rinds I would say that the pork rinds were just... okay.

                    I had the smoked sweetbreads. It was a very generous portion, and they were good. As another poster had indicated it was not the best preparation had (I LOVE the one at Beast), but the coating could have been crispier. The vegetables were cooked perfectly.

                    One companion ordered the 35 day aged ribeye. The review he gave was that it was "okay" and cooked perfectly to order. There was nothing wrong with it, but also nothing exceptional.

                    The real standout of the night was the roasted pork belly that was ordered by my 2nd companion. I took a bite of his dish and it just melted in my mouth. Very good with the homemade mustard that was also provided.

                    For dessert I had the Mejool date cake. I was very disappointed in this, but I suppose it was my fault. I had heard that it was an acceptable version of Sticky Toffee Pudding (in fact, most sticky toffee pudding recipes I have come across do have a fair amount of dates), but I was comparing it to the Sticky Toffee Pudding I love from Beast.
                    The one from Biff's was very "date-y", which had my companions laughing at my disappointment; as they pointed out "You order a dessert called date cake, yet don't like it because it tastes too much of dates". Point taken.

                    One companion ordered the profiteroles which he LOVED and stated far surpassed those he had last month at Beast. The server had overheard that we were celebrating his birthday, and had "Happy Birthday" written on the plate as a surprise. It was a very nice touch.

                    All in all -- an excellent meal.

                    I would definitely return and order the roasted pork belly for myself.

                    1. Thinking about going to Biff's in the next few weeks. Anyone with any recent experiences ?

                      7 Replies
                      1. re: PoppiYYZ

                        Yes,
                        I was waiting to try again before posting - but time just slipped away.
                        The chef changed about a year ago (?) and it's dramatically better! Perhaps not coincidentally she moved from another restaurant in the group, and the kitchen there has slumped dramatically. Maybe just a coincidence, but .....
                        My last meal at Biff's (late summer) was by far the best I've had there - but I'm reluctant to fully endorse based on a single visit. However, would love a second opinion.

                        1. re: estufarian

                          Went in June and October. Great service as usual for an O&B restaurant and good food. Would agree that the food is better than it has been in the last few years.

                          My only quibble was that the sauce on my main (a sort of paupiette of pork stuffed with liver and forcemeat with a side of kale) in October was far too salty, but the dish overall was done well.

                          1. re: lsk

                            Thanks,

                            Still planning on going with a small group, so I'll share our experiences afterwards.

                          2. re: estufarian

                            I went last week, and it was a nice meal. Intended just to go for oysters and drinks, but ended up getting a small beef tartare for myself and the fried smelts to share. Loved the tartare, the smelts were good but nothing special for me. Others at my table got the bone marrow and steak frites and they seemed happy with their meals. Oysters were very good and fresh as always.

                            We were a large-ish and disorganized group, and our server was an absolute champ, handling our many requests and splitting the bill without a pause. I've been there a few times last year, and have always received great, warm service every time.

                            1. re: CuriousCat

                              Thanks CC,

                              Maybe unacceptable with the Mods, but between you and me, I think the name of someone responsible for quality "champ" service should also be mentioned. Credit where credit is due !!

                              I am REALLY looking forward to our dinner because of the positive reviews of Biffs AND the very special company in our party !

                              1. re: PoppiYYZ

                                Haha, I'm with ya! Hope you have a great dinner, look forward to hearing your thoughts afterwards! :)

                                1. re: CuriousCat

                                  Good to hear that Biff's is maintaining their level of quality after all these years. I totally forgot that this thread was started by me some 4 years ago.

                                  Time for a re-visit very soon to get me some good cheap oysters.