Psst... We're working on the next generation of Chowhound! View >
HOME > Chowhound > Ontario (inc. Toronto) >
Jun 20, 2011 06:37 PM

La Societe Bistro

After a long day of travel yesterday, my bf and I checked out La Societe last night since we live in the Collonade and I didn't feel like going far.

So, I have been watching them work on the renovation for a while now, and after seeing their soft opening last week,I was looking forward to checking it out for myself. Its a pretty large space inside, and a good size patio upstairs. They even have a bar and patio on Bloor St., right outside of our apartment's front doors. This is definitely going to be a busy spot come TIFF time.

We didn't have a reservation, but were seated promptly on the upstairs patio, a few tables over from Galen Weston, actually. Service was efficient and incredibly friendly. Our (super) cute young server was both professional, but very personable, which I appreciate, though some may have felt it was a bit "too much". For example, we told her we lived in the building, and the rest of the night was spent chatting about where in Toronto to buy an apartment in, as she was some-what new to Toronto. I like this type of casual approach to dining, but others might just want to be left alone, especially if lets say, they were on a first date and wanted to talk to one another, not the server. Not a problem for us, of course. She was also very attentive, and when she noticed that I was getting cold outside, she dragged over a heat lamp. Scored big points for me.

Okay, on to the food. I was pretty excited about the menu, there are a lot of options I can see myself being happy with in different situations, from comfort classics some some healthier raw seafood selections.

We shared the "Shrimp" which were 3 absolutely ginormous shrimp with a simple cocktail sauce. A tiny bit overcooked for me, but in general, a nice, refreshing start.

My bf had the Lobster risotto, which was a bit TOO al dente for my preference. But I felt it was a really good serving size and was nicely seasoned.

I did the Braised Short ribs with glazed vegetables. The short rib (one bit one) was perfectly cooked and tender, but the vegetables were a bit under and hard to even get my fork into. I also would have preferred a bit more caramelized sweetness or acidity in the jus as it was a little flat, and would have helped cut the richness of the short ribs.

To finish we went with the Banana Tarte Tatin with Rum ice cream. Well, this one was a no brainer because I love bananas (especially when caramelized) and tarte tatin is one of my favourite desserts. It did not disappoint, and was the best part of the meal. The pastry was perfectly cooked (too often I find it to be overdone and therefore very hard to cut with a fork and eat), and the rum ice cream was a lovely accompaniment.

So, for the app, 2 mains, dessert, 1 large bottle of Perrier and a tea, the total came to about $100 including tax and tip, not terrible for us. I didn't get the really check out the wine list, as I was recovering from a week of drinking and overeating while away. I was very happy with the service, and while the food wasn't amazing, it was great by Yorkville standards, and since its a very convenient dining option for us, I am sure we will be back again when they work a few of the kinks out.

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. Thanks for the review! This place is on my list to check out... Seems like a very "it" spot right now, which sort of makes me want to visit a bit less.

    5 Replies
    1. re: jlunar

      ha, yah.. I still would give it a few more weeks. If I didnt live in the building, I would have done the same.

      1. re: hungryabbey

        Noted! I can certainly cool my heels until the craziness dies down.

        1. re: jlunar

          What craziness?

          She walked in, without a reservation, and was able to get a seat. We drove by last night and the patio was empty??? This was around 8 p.m. Sounds very 'uncrazy' to me. I expected the patio to be chock full - where was everyone?

          1. re: millygirl

            Huh. I kept seeing a stream of tweets since the opening, but has the activity already died down? Or maybe everyone thought it was going to rain...

            1. re: jlunar

              When I saw them on opening night, I thought, Oh god, another one of those typical Yorkville establishments (too many beautiful people!!! ha.) But on sunday the inside was empty, and almost all of the patio tables were occupied.. but we will see how it goes throughout the rest of the summer for them.. it is a great patio for people watching, and really, one of the only places actually ON bloor st. in yorkville.

    2. Heard they also have a seafood tower similar to NYC's Balthazar. Anyone checked it out yet?!

      1. I went with a girl friend of mine for brunch today. Made a reservation but apparently the patio is first come first serve, like most places. We still managed to get a seat on the patio because it was early, but there were only a couple of tables that were occupied inside.

        The interior of the restaurant is gorgeous and you could tell they spent a lot of money on making the place very much like a true bistro - dark wood, tiled floors, and even a seafood "bar" where lobsters and clams were sitting on ice. If only the food were just as good. To start off, they were "out" of a few items - like crepe and I believe a mushroom soup. Huh? It was just the beginning of the day and they were already out? My friend ordered the eggs benedict florentine, which she said was lukewarm. She thought it had been sitting there for a while. My choice of the grilled chicken sandwich was ok, but a tad on the greasy side (for my taste). The server was friendly, but forgetful. (She asked if we wanted fresh ground pepper but never returned with it.) Points though for checking on us though.

        Not sure if it's just because the place is new, but there is definitely room for improvement. If one is going for drinks and people watching, they also have a beautiful setup on Bloor St. itself with a marble-looking countertop and expensive-looking bbq grill. It would be really great to see if the food improves...but at this rate, I'm not expecting lineups as one would outside of Balthazar in NYC.

        1. Okay, so I went earlier than expected! Pretty empty inside at 6:30 on a Sunday, but the patio was kickin'

          hungryabbey, you're gonna cry. They took the tatin off the menu :(

          They also took off the sous-vide steak (replaced with a regular flat-iron steak or something). I was eyeing that as part of their prix-fixe and then went with the braised short-ribs you had when I heard they didn't do it sous-vide anymore.

          Overall, okay. Not great enough that we'd gamble on the seafood platter next time, but there will be a next time, in about 6-8 weeks once they refine things.


          5 Replies
          1. re: jlunar

            Gotta say, this is one of the best looking restaurants in the city. Very Balthazar, Minetta Tavern esque. Biting Keith McNally hard, but can you blame them? He has a winning formula that generates a lot of $.

            Good job on the design. I'm not expecting much from the food but I'll give them a shot on the interior design alone.

            1. re: aser

              The decor takes me back to Paris. The food, though, sweeps me right back to Toronto (and not in a good way). Classic-esque dishes, poor execution.

              Like erly, we had a lot of apologies and a lot of dishes comped, but I'd rather have a good meal than a mostly free meal. Service, while nice, was not knowledgeable.

            2. re: jlunar

              You are fortunate that the sous-vide Steak is off the Menu.
              They can't get it right.
              Our sweet server,, but with very little knowledge told us that it can't be done less than med.
              It came very well done and cold.
              Our Friend did not even send it back, because at this point there had been so many errors with our order to the point that we just relaxed and enjoyed the Company.
              Our first apology came from the Manager, even before our first course was served.
              We needed to ask what he was apologizing for.
              We had several subsequent visits from him, and each time told him not to worry, as they had only been open for 2 days, and we understood.
              The Dover Sole was good, as was the Onion Soup.
              Everything else not bad,
              Only one Dish was sent back, wrong Dish which was given to me, which I would have kept anyway, except that it was an extremely well done Ribeye.
              Our shock was that when we received the Bill, more than half the Meal was Comped.
              Probably will give it another try far into the future.

              1. re: jlunar

                Oh damn.. that is unfortunate re: tatin. I wonder why...

                They need time to work out the food kinks... i hope they do at least, because its so convenient and a nice environment, and there is nothing else in the neighbourhood.

                1. re: hungryabbey

                  for both the tatin and sous-vide steak,we were told that it was because people weren't really ordering. I think that was just a line, really. The steak sounds (from your experience) like there were production issues. Not sure about the tatin - would have liked to try it.

                  I ordered the mignardises/friandises for dessert. The gelees were good, truffles alright, but man, the macarons were terrible! Bad enough for me to send a quick note to them about it. Maybe it was just the ones I had, but they were really damp.

              2. Went for lunch today with a friend. Decor is very French Bistro like, not unlike Balthazar NYC. Someone here said this was one of the best looking restaurants in the city. I wholeheartedly agree, very beautiful!

                Service was appropriately attentive, everyone was friendly and nice. Food needs work. I ordered the $15 burger. The bread tasted like something bought day-old from Loblaws and the meat was way overdone and dry as bone. My friend ordered the Quiche which she said was lukewarm but otherwise OK. The comp the burger which was very nice.

                I've heard that Charles Khabouth is more flash than substance and, unfortunately, this first visit didn't suggest anythiing different. The restaurant is still very new but it's got a long way to go and at the steep Yorkville prices they're charging, they better learn fast.

                1 Reply
                1. re: syoung

                  Charles likes to build places to see and be seen. Food is always secondary which is a shame b/c he hires great designers and always ends up with beautiful spaces.