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Traditional French bistro in Toronto: some names?

Dean Tudor Jun 6, 2011 03:50 PM

I'm just looking around for places in Toronto which serve traditional bistro food (duck, rabbit, liver and/or kidneys, pates, terrines, sausages, charcuterie, soupe de poissons, et al).at the usual moderate prices, in pleasant surroundings (nothing fancy) but without the "put upon" Gallic expression.

So far I have Le Paradis, Le Select, Batifole, Pastis Express.

Are there others in the GTA? Let me know, and thanks in advance!!!

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

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  1. j
    JennaBean RE: Dean Tudor Jun 6, 2011 04:05 PM

    Le Rossignol Bistro. 686 Queen Street East

    1 Reply
    1. re: JennaBean
      juno RE: JennaBean Jun 6, 2011 04:49 PM

      In my view, nothing beats Le Paradis for classic bistro nosh at modest prices. But Steak-Frites, on Yonge St. north of Lawrence Ave., does a pretty good uptown version of Le Paradis, with most of the dishes you requested, but at slightly higher prices. Somewhat fancier decor, though. And also uptown, there are two small French bistros on the same block of Mount Pleasant Rd. south of Eglinton: Simple Bistro and Mogette, both of which are pretty damn good - and cheaper than Pastis Express, which is the best of the bunch, but the most expensive as well. Definitely not what I'd call moderate.

    2. t
      table4onthefly RE: Dean Tudor Jun 6, 2011 04:34 PM

      I wonder if Ici Bistro applies? I haven't eaten there, but I hear it's pretty old school...

      1 Reply
      1. re: table4onthefly
        JennaBean RE: table4onthefly Jun 7, 2011 07:14 AM

        Ici is lovely but I would not call it classic French bistro and the price point is slightly higher than typical bistro as well.

      2. TorontoJo RE: Dean Tudor Jun 6, 2011 04:37 PM

        Steak Frites Bistro at Yonge and Lawrence.


        1. Charles Yu RE: Dean Tudor Jun 6, 2011 04:42 PM

          Pastis for top notch food!

          1 Reply
          1. re: Charles Yu
            millygirl RE: Charles Yu Jun 6, 2011 05:05 PM

            Jacques Bistro du Parc is a definite must for your list.

          2. m
            MeMeMe RE: Dean Tudor Jun 7, 2011 09:12 AM

            Tati Bistro on Harbord. Great food and a beautiful patio.

            1. b
              BequiaT RE: Dean Tudor Jun 7, 2011 09:25 AM

              Midi on McCaul, south of Baldwin

              1. m
                melly mel RE: Dean Tudor Jun 7, 2011 12:18 PM

                There's a nice little place on Ossington north of Queen called Beau Lieu Bistro. They have a very traditional French bistro menu, delicious food and the staff is lovely.

                Beau Lieu Bistro
                59 Ossington Ave, Toronto, ON M6J 2Y9, CA

                1. AzulH RE: Dean Tudor Jun 7, 2011 04:18 PM

                  Le Tournesol, Howland & Dupont, has most of what you ask. Prix Fix $28 and a decent not over-priced wine list. Small and been around for years.

                  11 Replies
                  1. re: AzulH
                    Dean Tudor RE: AzulH Jun 7, 2011 05:04 PM

                    Thanks for all of your recks. The problem I'm having is that not many are serving "traditional" French bistro cuisine with rabbit, duck, soupe de poissons, offal, tongue, sausages, cassoulet, charcuterie, et al. -- being listed on a daily basis.

                    Most have steak frites, omelettes, quiche, salmon, a local fish, Cornish game hen, stuff like that.

                    I'm not trying to be picky, I just would like to know from all the Chowhounders, what places can serve "trad French bistro".

                    Thanks for your continuing input!!

                    1. re: Dean Tudor
                      Snarf RE: Dean Tudor Jun 7, 2011 06:10 PM

                      Tati does a nice fish soup, which you can buy at their cheese shop Chabichou, which also features their charcuterie and prepared foods.

                      Toronto, Toronto, ON , CA

                      1. re: Dean Tudor
                        aser RE: Dean Tudor Jun 8, 2011 12:47 AM

                        What you're asking for doesn't exist in Toronto.

                        The ones listed are it. No place will be serving tripe, andioulles, tete de veau. A restaurant serving that stuff will go out of business in no time in Toronto.

                        1. re: aser
                          Snarf RE: aser Jun 8, 2011 05:31 AM

                          Does the presence of a tripe dish on Le Select's menu mean they're closing soon?

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

                          1. re: Snarf
                            aser RE: Snarf Jun 8, 2011 10:26 AM

                            yes they're closing right away.........don't take it so literally, you know exactly what I mean.

                            there are restaurants serving some of the dishes he's looking for, but not everything on a daily basis as he is asking for.

                            1. re: aser
                              Snarf RE: aser Jun 8, 2011 11:29 AM

                              That would be ...wait for it....sarcasm. I agree that a bistro menu composed completely of offal and nasty bits would not last (which is probably why we never see snouts and tails on the menu in nose to tail places), but in the aggregate one should be able to find mosts dishes somewhere in town.

                          2. re: aser
                            torontofoodiegirl RE: aser Jun 8, 2011 08:17 AM

                            Just checked the website for le Paradis, and (at least as of today) they have veal kidneys, veal liver, duck, cassoulet, and pork and rabbit pate -- all of which seem to be what the OP is asking for -- and they're very much stil in business. Similarly, Batifole has Soupe de Poissons, veal liver, cassoulet, and chicken liver brule. So I think such restaurants do exist...

                            744 Gerrard St E, Toronto, ON M4M1Y3, CA

                            1. re: torontofoodiegirl
                              Splendid Wine Snob RE: torontofoodiegirl Jun 8, 2011 10:06 AM

                              Yes, I would say that Le Paradis is about as traditional as it gets. Does any other French bistro in Toronto serve kidneys?

                              Le Paradis has cassoulet and choucroute, but they don't offer it in the summer. It's just not something people want to eat when it's 30+C outside. As far as duck, rabbit, and liver, they have those on a regular basis. They had house-made sausages on their menu not too long ago. They almost always have a fish soup on the menu, but again, more typically in the colder months.

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

                              1. re: Splendid Wine Snob
                                juno RE: Splendid Wine Snob Jun 8, 2011 02:31 PM

                                I agree with Splendid Wine Snob that Le Paradis is the benchmark for inexpensive French bistro cooking in Toronto. Also, to answer Splendid Wine Snob's query about kidneys: yes, there is another bistro besides Le Paradis that serves kidneys (which is my favorite bistro main dish). It's also on the menu at Prix Fixe, mentioned above, though at a somewhat higher price than Le Paradis. It's listed at Prix Fixe as a special menu item without a price, because the price seems to change slightly every now and then. But I know of no other Toronto bistro with kidneys on its menu. It's a specialty item that's not ordinarily popular, though mighty tasty at both Le Paradis and Prix Fixe.

                            2. re: aser
                              Dean Tudor RE: aser Jun 8, 2011 04:38 PM

                              I would agree, for Toronto. I'm just looking for a place that will serve MOST of it, For example, I'd be happy with just one offal (changing on a daily or weekly basis?). But it should at least have duck and rabbitt every day.

                            3. re: Dean Tudor
                              jlunar RE: Dean Tudor Jun 8, 2011 11:57 AM

                              I know Le Rossignol had cassoulet in the winter, but they've just changed their menus to reflect the season. Here's what it did look like when it was on offer: http://www.flickr.com/photos/jlunar/5...

                          3. j
                            jrex RE: Dean Tudor Jun 7, 2011 08:23 PM

                            I would suggest several options (being from montreal myself where we have copious top notch bistro fare..)
                            Biff's bistro.. the bouillabaisse is one of the best i've had
                            Selecte bistro...ok but perhaps a little overpriced
                            Rossignol...Great steak frites but atmosphere's a little blah
                            Batifole...haven't tried but i've heard great things...only thing is location is quite unfortunate being in far east china town
                            La Palette & Lucien: 2 places I have not tried either but have heard some great feedback from peeps.
                            Enjoy the french cuisine!

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

                            1. meatnveg RE: Dean Tudor Jun 7, 2011 08:45 PM

                              Matignon restaurant Francais: 51 Saint Nicholas Street (one street west of Yonge.

                              They do basic french food, done well and has been there for ages.

                              51 St Nicholas St, Toronto, ON M4Y1W6, CA

                              2 Replies
                              1. re: meatnveg
                                TexSquared RE: meatnveg Jun 7, 2011 10:20 PM

                                Matignon has been closed for over a year now.

                                1. re: TexSquared
                                  danionavenue RE: TexSquared Jun 8, 2011 02:33 PM

                                  I had rabbit and my husband had some kind of lamb stew of sorts at Batifole a year ago. Loved it! Nice little place with good service.

                                  744 Gerrard St E, Toronto, ON M4M1Y3, CA

                              2. prima RE: Dean Tudor Jun 8, 2011 02:38 PM

                                Provence Delices has duck, escargots, fish soup, liver and cassoulet on the menu.


                                Mind you, it isn't traditional for French people to eat cassoulet when it's 33 degrees C outside.

                                Haven't been in 10 years, so I don't know whether it's worth visiting lately.

                                Bistro 990 has liver, duck and rabbit rillettes on the dinner menu regularly. http://www.bistro990.ca/menu_dinner.asp

                                You might have an easier time finding kidneys, sweetbreads and other offal on TO bistro menus in the fall & winter, than in the summer.

                                Bistro 990
                                990 Bay St, Toronto, ON M5S3A8, CA

                                12 Amelia St, Toronto, ON M4X1E1, CA

                                5 Replies
                                1. re: prima
                                  Dean Tudor RE: prima Jun 8, 2011 04:41 PM

                                  I agree.

                                  What's cooling in the summer? Cheeses, breads, sausages, charcuterie, pate, terrine, rillettes, fissee salad with gizzards, any more?

                                  1. re: Dean Tudor
                                    Splendid Wine Snob RE: Dean Tudor Jun 8, 2011 06:22 PM

                                    Vichyssoise, anything a la Nicoise (Pissaladiere), cured fish, lightly cooked fish and shellfish dishes...

                                    Le Paradis has duck legs every day even if they are not listed on the menu. They serve rabbit often either as a plat or an entree such as pate.

                                  2. re: prima
                                    Teep RE: prima Jun 13, 2011 07:04 PM

                                    Provence Delices is "featured" in this Worst of Toronto thread
                                    and I had a similar experience too.

                                    1. re: Teep
                                      prima RE: Teep Jun 14, 2011 07:13 AM

                                      Sorry to hear you also had a disappointing experience. You mentioned in another thread that the duck confit was good (the only good part of the meal), and better than the duck confit at Le Select or Midi. http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/7500...

                                      Maybe it's still worth visiting, if the OP focuses on ordering duck, and nothing else? ;-)

                                      1. re: prima
                                        Teep RE: prima Jun 14, 2011 02:15 PM

                                        Well there's the "strange waiter". I didn't write about that as he wasn't as "strange" to us as in the other reports.

                                  3. e
                                    eppicurious RE: Dean Tudor Jun 8, 2011 08:26 PM

                                    Batifole.....horse tartare....need I say more......

                                    16 Replies
                                    1. re: eppicurious
                                      Charles Yu RE: eppicurious Jun 8, 2011 08:39 PM

                                      Don't touch their 'liver' though!! Worst liver dish I had in Toronto!! Watery gravy, overcooked liver....yeeeeuck!! Compared to Pastis' version, its like eating Japanese at all you can eat vs Sushi Kaji!!

                                      Sushi Kaji
                                      860 The Queensway, Toronto, ON M8Z1N7, CA

                                      1. re: sumdumgoy
                                        millygirl RE: sumdumgoy Jun 13, 2011 03:21 AM

                                        The new place opening up in the Colonnade sounds promising. Sorry I don't recall the name. Where Dynasty was.

                                        1. re: millygirl
                                          jlunar RE: millygirl Jun 13, 2011 07:24 AM

                                          La Societe, if I'm not mistaken. Looks pretty cool in there, but food will tell...

                                          1. re: jlunar
                                            Splendid Wine Snob RE: jlunar Jun 13, 2011 08:55 AM

                                            Yeah, some connection with Balthazar in NYC I hear...

                                            1. re: Splendid Wine Snob
                                              jlunar RE: Splendid Wine Snob Jun 13, 2011 09:29 AM

                                              hmn.. I know it's the Khabouth bros (club owners, Briscola) that are doing this one up. TL bit: http://www.torontolife.com/daily/dail...

                                              1. re: jlunar
                                                gothlig RE: jlunar Jun 13, 2011 09:38 AM

                                                La Societe: self-described as Parisian cuisine in a bistro setting of the 1920's but sure looks more like a brasserie to me. Invitations have gone out for the opening tomorrow night so presumably it will be open for business this week.

                                                1. re: jlunar
                                                  prima RE: jlunar Jun 13, 2011 09:47 AM

                                                  Re: La Societe


                                                  Re: Khabouth


                                                  1. re: jlunar
                                                    Splendid Wine Snob RE: jlunar Jun 13, 2011 10:46 AM

                                                    Yeah, knew it was Charles Khabouth. Rumblings/rumour mill that there was some connection to Balthazar in NYC, but wasn't clear what that connection was, whether it was a copy, menu consultation or investment. In any case, looks like it will be a beautiful space, and like you said, it remains to be seen whether the food can match the decor.

                                                    1. re: Splendid Wine Snob
                                                      peppermint pate RE: Splendid Wine Snob Jun 13, 2011 11:02 AM

                                                      Given some of the recent chef/owner migrations from NYC's kitchens to ours, it's totally within the realm of possibility that Keith McNally would join the train - and a number of his spots have a similar vibe and sensibility to Khabouth's. Either way, I'll be curious to check this place out - I'm not entirely sure on the location as it's pretty deadsville at night but maybe they can draw the crowds. And with all that natural light, it should be a stunning space for lunch/brunch and even brekkie, if they open for that.

                                                      1. re: peppermint pate
                                                        Splendid Wine Snob RE: peppermint pate Jun 13, 2011 11:13 AM

                                                        Precisely what I was thinking too PP. I imagine migrations/collaborations between Toronto and NYC chefs and restauranteurs will only increase with time, particularly as the economy worsens in the US.

                                                        In any case, curious about how this space will compare to the gorgeousness of Balthazar.

                                                        1. re: Splendid Wine Snob
                                                          prima RE: Splendid Wine Snob Jun 13, 2011 11:21 AM

                                                          From the Toronto Star

                                                          Though sophisticated, La Société won’t be intimidating or the service obsequious and snotty, Khabouth insists.

                                                          "I have a well-seasoned staff who knows how to welcome people-with zero attitude. I promise you, the last thing we'll be is arrogant or snotty."


                                                          How is that Parisian? Ha ha ha.

                                                          1. re: prima
                                                            Splendid Wine Snob RE: prima Jun 13, 2011 11:31 AM

                                                            Unless they can get fresh escargot, it's no dice for me. To my knowledge, no one serves those tasty little critters fresh in TO as there is no one doing heliciculture here (damn!) And I don't think there's enough of a fresh import market here either. It's a secret wishful career trade for me...

                                                            1. re: Splendid Wine Snob
                                                              prima RE: Splendid Wine Snob Jun 13, 2011 11:33 AM

                                                              Thanks to all the rain, there's plenty of fresh freerange helici culturing in SW ON, if you're brave enough to eat them!

                                                    2. re: jlunar
                                                      JennaBean RE: jlunar Jun 13, 2011 03:15 PM

                                                      Yes this is Charles Khabouth's new place. He's hoping the food is better than Spice Route or Ultra.

                                                      Spice Route
                                                      499 King St W, Toronto, ON M5V 1K4, CA

                                                    3. re: Splendid Wine Snob
                                                      peppermint pate RE: Splendid Wine Snob Jun 13, 2011 10:08 AM

                                                      I'm guessing the connection is the turn of the century decor, and maybe the menu. The picture in The Star looks a lot like the interior of Balthazar but it doesn't look like there's any chef/owner crossover. My first visit to Balthazar was a midnight reservation not long after they opened - shared a huge iced seafood platter and a gorgeous bottle of white. The place was packed and very buzzing - would love to have something like that here.

                                                      1. re: Splendid Wine Snob
                                                        Charles Yu RE: Splendid Wine Snob Jun 13, 2011 03:44 PM

                                                        Balthazar is one damn good bistro!! For North America, their 'raw seafood pyramid' was amazing! Their leek and onion tart appertizer was also ultra tasty! Lets hope La Societe will bring similar quality food to TO?!

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