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French Bistro in the GTA?

e
excel Apr 10, 2011 03:35 PM

Hey guys,

Well, like the title suggest I'm looking for the best french bistro(s) in the GTA. Now I know there are a lot of posts on this subject, but there doesn't seem to be anything recent. So, if you guys would be kind enough to help me put an up to date list of great french bistros that would be fantastic.

Thanks!!

  1. c
    ctl98 Apr 10, 2011 03:41 PM

    My most recent experience was at Simple Bistro on Mt. Pleasant. There were 4 of us and we all had different dishes. We tried each other's dishes and they were all excellent...scallops, steak frites, fish special of the day and another special..beef tongue. Everything was just perfectly cooked and the service was excellent as well. They have a prix fixe for $40 which allows you to pick an app, a main and a dessert from their menu including the specials. The dessert were perhaps the weakest point of the meal. They weren't bad...I had the sticky toffee pudding, which was ok, but I am comparing that to Nota Bene and Beast, which have excellent STPs!

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

    1. w
      wontonfm Apr 10, 2011 03:46 PM

      I enjoy Le Select Bistro and Coquine.

      WON
      http://whatsonmyplate.net

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

      Coquine
      2075 Yonge St, Toronto, ON M4S2A4, CA

      1. jlunar Apr 10, 2011 04:08 PM

        I'll toss in Le Rossignol!

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        Le Rossignol French Bistro
        686 Queen St E, Toronto, ON M4M 1G6, CA

        1. e
          excel Apr 10, 2011 05:11 PM

          Thanks for your recs guys, maybe we should include a bit of a review and when was the last time you ate at the restaurant

          1. u
            uberathlete Apr 11, 2011 05:05 AM

            Simple Bistro in Toronto.

            Bistro Chez Anne in Mississauga.

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

            1. d
              dubchild Apr 11, 2011 05:33 AM

              Ditto Simple Bistro and Le Select.

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

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

              1. Teep Apr 11, 2011 06:48 AM

                I had duck confit at Midi and Le Select within the last year and found both disappointing. Onion soup also had a burnt bitter taste at Le Select. Midi also served a tart tartin that was rather blah.

                Would Biff's count? it's on my list to try.

                1. s
                  ski break Apr 11, 2011 07:12 AM

                  Pastis...TO's best according to Joanne Kates....was there Sat night (April 9)...usually do once a month. Always on point and tres delicieux...great overall selection.
                  Le Select is good but they are SOOOO in your face Francaise..the 'tude rubs me.

                  Bon appetit

                  SB

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

                  1. chocabot Apr 11, 2011 07:19 AM

                    I've been wanting to try Liberty Belle Bistro. They're menu looks like it has all the classics.
                    I have not been, but Lafayette Bistro looks very authentic from France.

                    1. j
                      JennaBean Apr 11, 2011 07:25 AM

                      Ici Bistro - I've eaten there twice since they opened and both times were really great meals. More expensive than other bistro's but totally worth it.

                      My go-to French bistro is Le Select. I eat there at least once a month.

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

                      2 Replies
                      1. re: JennaBean
                        dlw88 Apr 11, 2011 07:28 AM

                        Haven't heard anything about Batifole in a few years now. This used to be a CHOW favourite. Can anyone comment who's been recently?

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

                        1. re: dlw88
                          j
                          juno Apr 11, 2011 09:15 AM

                          To me, a French bistro is a mid-level joint that - given Toronto prices - does solid, consistent, satisfying bistro classics at about $100-$125 a couple, with a half liter of drinkable wine, all in. At that price level, you'll find none that are great, as the OP requested, but a number that are good and one or two very good. Too bad about that $100-$125 price level - just a couple of years ago, it was more like $75-$100 - but such is life in the big city. The most accomplished bistro in town is, in my view, Pastis Express, but it has long gone above $125 a couple, so it doesn't qualify as mid-level (nor does Ici Bistro, good though I'm told it is). The whole point of bistro cooking is that it be mid-level affordable. In which case, I'm left with two neighboring joints on Mt. Pleasant Rd., the aforementioned Simple Bistro and, slightly pricier but a tad more inventive, Mogette. I lean toward Simple Bistro early in the week, when its $10 corkage charge for bring-your-own-wine is in force. Any bistro that charges just $10 corkage has my heart, any bistro that charges more (as Simple does later in the week) doesn't really want you bringing your own. Also uptown is the quite respectable Steak Frites, on Yonge St. above Lawrence Ave. Eminently satisfying, if not memorable (which is good enough for me). When I'm downtown, I lean to Weezie's, though if you don't watch yourself, you can easily - with those wine prices - bump up above $125 a couple. Good mac 'n' cheese and a knockout frisee salad. And then there's the classic Toronto bistro, one of the city's originals, Le Paradis, near Avenue Rd and Davenport, where you can actually eat well, with wine, for under $100 a couple, if you order prudently. If good value is your benchmark, it's Le Paradis every time out. I'm partial to its flank steak and frites. The aforementioned Coquine is fun if you're in you're 20s or 30s and like noise, though the cooking isn't always careful. They do a nice salad nicoise at lunch, if I remember. Haven't been in Batifole in years - sort of like a noisy downtown Coquine, if I recall. And don't know Le Select or Le Rossignol because I rarely get out to their neighborhoods, and no bistro is worth driving (or walking) too far for. The ideal bistro should be just around the corner from you when hunger arrives and you don't wanna pop $150-$200 a couple.

                      2. h
                        hilary9 Apr 11, 2011 09:07 AM

                        Batifole in the Gerrard Street chinatown is an admirable French bistro, good food, good service and reasonable prices. I recommend the escargot, also the horse tartare.

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

                        1. e
                          excel Apr 13, 2011 09:05 AM

                          Thanks guys for all the feedback, please keep them coming. I'll have to throw my hat in the ring for Simple Bistro - last time I was there we had the tasting and added the liver - all good but the liver was fantastic!

                          Going to Ici today and will give feedback in a bit.

                          I agree that bistro food should be cheap and cheerful, close by, comforting, and well prepared. Unfortunately we live in TO, so all I really look for now is well prepared. C'est la vie

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

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: excel
                            Googs Apr 13, 2011 12:34 PM

                            Not certain what neighbourhood you live in, but certainly Weezie's fulfills 4 of your 5 requests. I haven't been in about 3 months. I used to be about a once-a-month regular there when I lived in the neighbourhood. The wines are well selected and priced, her seafood dishes are impeccable, salads fresh and flavourful, beautifullt sourced. If you see something on the menu you wouldn't typically like, try hers. I did on many occasions and always left thinking 'so THAT's how that's supposed to be done'.

                            -----
                            Weezie's
                            354 King St E, Toronto, ON M5A1K9, CA

                          2. m
                            mexivilla Apr 14, 2011 05:28 AM

                            And there's always Merlot on Bloor West.

                            1. Charles Yu Apr 14, 2011 07:21 AM

                              Simple and Pastis are my two 'hands down' favourite. However, I'm going to give ICI Bistro a try. Got a hunch it might trump most of the establishments mentioned so far?! ( Assuming I can get a reservation!! )

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: Charles Yu
                                j
                                JennaBean Apr 14, 2011 07:31 AM

                                I don't think you'll be disappointed by Ici but the bill will be higher than Simple and maybe Pastis.

                              2. t
                                tartytatin Apr 16, 2011 10:03 AM

                                I agree with Juno about a French Bistro being a mid-level joint. Ici Bistro is not what I consider typical. Nobody mentioned Jules Bistro on Spadina, just South of Queen Street. This where I head for lunch or dinner when I'm craving classics like salmon tartare, steak frites, moules, and of course tarte tatin! It's not fancy but it's very typical bistro with menus written on big black chalkboards and flea market chadeliers. Eric the owner is a very nice French man who aims to please, and the service is always impeccable - no attitude. Lots of wines to choose from in the $30 to 40 range. Oh and best of all, no first seating, second seating baloney. Try it.

                                1. c
                                  caviartothegeneral Apr 16, 2011 01:43 PM

                                  I've been going to Bistro Tournesol for years and have never been disappointed. Warm, friendly service and excellent value.

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

                                  1 Reply
                                  1. re: caviartothegeneral
                                    AzulH Apr 16, 2011 07:09 PM

                                    I second Bistro Tournesol for standard selection of soundly prepared bistro type food with a decent wine selection, neither over priced. ( Better to eat there after 7.30 when the Tarragon theatre crowd have vacated.)
                                    Agree with and appreciate Juno's succint comments above.

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

                                  2. e
                                    excel Apr 17, 2011 11:56 AM

                                    Thanks guys for keep this thread alive. Like I promised earlier, here's my Ici review. Went to Ici's on a Wednesday night, got a RSVP for 8:30 seating. When we arrived the first seating must have just finished as everyone around us seemed to have just been seated. We were a party of 5 that night and were all hungry and ready to go.

                                    Service the whole night was very good, the server we had was very knowledgeable about what was on the menu however, there were times when I thought we had to "look" for our server - this is nitpicking though.

                                    Now for the food. I'll start off by saying that I was disappointed that most of our dishes were under-seasoned - a huge negative to me and what made it worse was that the owner/chef was there and working the pass. Seasoning food is a basic skill and it's something that should never be an issue at a restaurant that is considered to be "best new restaurants" in TO - on a side note, I am finding more and more that Toronto Life reviews and what I experience seem to be way different. I'm not sure if that's telling on my part or theirs, but I've become extremely sceptically about TL's reviews. The seasoning issue was noticed by all the dinners in our party, so I don't think it was my palate. Furthermore, I haven't had an issue with under seasoning at other restaurants in a very long time.

                                    What was ordered.

                                    To Share:
                                    Steak Tartare - the tartare itself was good but seriously lacked salt to bring the tartare together. A bit strong on the onion flavour, but nothing seriously offensive. This dish came with potato croquette, which were crunchy on the outside and soft/fluffy on the inside - would have been really good if it had salt. Without salt it tasted like mash potato would if you didn't add salt

                                    Fois Gras Torchon & Black Trumpet Croquette - Probably this best dish of the night. the croquettes were tasty (great mushroom flavour) even though it lacked salt and the Fois was buttery and delicious, especially with the fig that came with the dish.

                                    Mains:
                                    Chicken Supreme Beatrix - Best main of the night and was a close second to being the best dish of the night. The chicken was cooked well, although a bit on the dry side. the sauce (a mustard base sauce) was delicious.

                                    Duo of Boeuf Bordelaise - 3 people in our party had this dish and it had so much potential to be a great dish. It came with a medallion of entrecote, short rib, bone marrow, and fried gnocchi. All of the meat needed salt, without salt the meat just doesn't have enough flavour. The medallion was cooked to med. rare, the bone marrow was also cooked well, but the short rib was on the dry side. The fried gnocchi was great and was the best item of the night. It actually came season properly and was probably the reason why it was so good. The gnocchi appeared, to everyone at the table, to be a smaller version of the croquettes that came with the tartare. This item was so good we actually order another side of it.

                                    Sablefish with White Asparagus, Lemon Sauce & Truffle Pearls - can't really comment on this dish, as I didn't get a full taste. The dish did come with a disc of polenta, which I tried and thought it was good, although I much prefer my polenta soft and runny, like at campagnolo.

                                    Dessert

                                    Praline Souffle - ordered 2 of these and it was good. Nothing spectacular,but what you would expect a good souffle to be.

                                    I can only compare this bistro to Simple Bistro - as these are the only 2 bistros I've been to in TO and I'll have to give my vote to Simple. I can tell you guys that I'm willing to give Ici another try, but I won't be rushing back. I really want to try all the other bistros listed on this thread before I go back to this place. For me, this restaurant just didn't live up to the hype - again I find this to be what I've experienced dining in TO all to often.

                                    Hope this sheds some light on Ici.

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

                                    6 Replies
                                    1. re: excel
                                      Googs Apr 20, 2011 11:43 AM

                                      Go to Weezie's. She does everything well and you get excellent value for the money you spend.

                                      -----
                                      Weezie's
                                      354 King St E, Toronto, ON M5A1K9, CA

                                      1. re: Googs
                                        Splendid Wine Snob Apr 20, 2011 12:42 PM

                                        I haven't been, but recent reports have not been good.

                                      2. re: excel
                                        haggisdragon Apr 20, 2011 12:47 PM

                                        Sounds to me that if you'd simply asked a server for a salt shaker your meal would have been great.

                                        1. re: haggisdragon
                                          e
                                          excel Apr 20, 2011 01:06 PM

                                          After a few dishes I couldn't hold out anymore and I did ask the sever for the salt shaker. Just don't think you should have to ask for a salt shaker at a place like Ici....,maybe I'm wrong?

                                          1. re: haggisdragon
                                            Splendid Wine Snob Apr 20, 2011 01:08 PM

                                            Interesting...never noticed issues with seasoning, and ate there recently with a party where our palates are all over the map. We all loved the food, can't wait to head back soon.

                                            1. re: Splendid Wine Snob
                                              e
                                              excel Apr 20, 2011 06:47 PM

                                              could have been an off night. We'll try it again, but not until we've tried the other bistros in TO

                                        2. o
                                          opifan64 Apr 20, 2011 07:24 PM

                                          I think Le Select must have declined significantly, or I was there on an off night. I ordered the steak frites and the steak was miserable... full of rubbery gristle and practically inedible. The frites were decent enough.

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

                                          1. justsayn Apr 20, 2011 07:31 PM

                                            I've been reading and hearing good things about a new restaurant - Liberty Belle Bistro, in Liberty Village.

                                            2 Replies
                                            1. re: justsayn
                                              e
                                              excel Apr 21, 2011 08:37 AM

                                              I'm actually heading to Le Select this weekend for brunch. I'll report back....I've heard mainly good things about the place, fingers crossed it lives up to the billing.

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

                                              1. re: excel
                                                o
                                                opifan64 Apr 21, 2011 02:52 PM

                                                Yeah, let me know. I've had decent meals there in the past so I was pretty disappointed, especially since I took a date there and said it was good. One of the chefs moved to La Palette when Le Select switched locations and I've had some good meals there (definitely better than the steak I had at Le Select).

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

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

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