[Feature photo by Lénaic Mercier via Brickyard Bistro]
Head to Leslieville for a fun, casual all-day café and bistro with simple, affordable French classics done well.
Run by a team of friends who are incredibly passionate about all things food, wine, beer and coffee – you’ll go as much for the people as the food and drinks.
Chef Jason Kibyuk (formerly of Le Baratin) has cooked all over the globe (Cape Breton, Iceland, Poland and Greece, to name a few), on TV and movie sets (hello Matt Damon), and in oil sands for a few years where temps dropped to -60°C. Much of the time, it was French fare.
Made-from-scratch traditional dishes such as Duck Confit ($23) and Steak Frites ($21) are all made from scratch and served as they do in Paris – hearty portions with lots of fries and sauce on the plate.
You won’t find any tapas-y type plates or fusion dishes here, though more modern interpretations are available in specials offered throughout the week – think: Short Ribs ($23) with an espresso reduction. Menu items change to reflect the season.
Ingredients are kept to local as much as possible, from suppliers including: The Butcher Shoppe, Strickland’s, Cheese Pantry down the street and the farmer’s market located just behind the restaurant.
Wine, coffee and beer are taken very seriously here. Co-owner Jesse Hughes is passionate about them all. As a former co-manager at Bar Hop, he can speak about hops all day. And as it happens, terroir and coffee beans too.
When it comes to beer and wine, the focus is local. Vino is mostly from Ontario, with a couple from across the globe (6 oz. gls $10.25-$14; btl $40-$85). The list is small for now, but will build in coming months.
Most of their selections come in a two-ounce pour option ($3.50-$4.85) so you can mix and match to make up a flight. I say, leave it in the hands of Hughes – he’ll set you up. If you wish to do it yourself, there are detailed tasting notes on the menu to guide you.
Beers are all local, in tall cans ($6.75-$10), table bottles ($15-$25) and a rotating tap ($7-8 approx). With the current beer boom in the east end, expect a fantastic range of hyper local selections.
Classic cocktails ($9-$14) named after the owners are made with select Canadian whiskeys and gin. Coffee cocktails are in the works.
Fixtures and Fittings
“The space was in good shape, but needed some flair,” Hughes says.
To make it “look like places in Paris we’d been,” the owners redid it themselves, along with good friend Adam Fullerton who constructed the benches and extra tables.
Co-owner Corey Durand and designer Neil Schmidt designed the walls, back area and the copper pot installation hanging in the kitchen.
The result is a casual, comfortable space with industrial touches suitable for a quick stop of coffee and pastry, or drink and leisurely meal.
Off the Menu
Veal Sweetbreads ($11) Tender, crispy sweetbreads pair perfectly with the velvety parsnip purée, while the house demi glace adds depth.
Ratatouille ($15) A summery stew of diced eggplant, zucchini and bell pepper in a tomato “caviar” gets a dusting of shaved Parmesan, and dried Nice-style olives for added crunch.
Pork Cassoulet ($16) Pork belly fans will swoon over the crunchy exterior revealing a melt-in-your-mouth centre. Accompanied by pickled red cabbage, slow simmered - yet still toothsome beans - and an expert demi glace, this comfort food satisfies.
Steak Frites ($21) There are a couple of things to know about this steak: The six-ounce shoulder cut is chewier than Striploin, though tasty. It arrives sliced and covered in your choice of red wine reduction or creamy blue cheese dressing, with a hearty side of frites (this is how they do it in France, Hughes says, so they’re following suit here). This means the sauce soaks through the steak and the fries. The frites are well-done and crispy – tossed with herbs and salt – so they can stand up to the sauce. If this isn’t your thing, ask for it on the side.
Peanut Butter Crème Brulée ($6) Deemed “mouth-watering” on the menu, chef’s specialty tastes like Reese’s Pieces blended into a smooth, creamy custard.
The dining room accommodates 32 guests for coffee, pastries, lunch, dinner, drinks and brunch.
At the Stove: Jason Kibyuk
Head Honchos: Jesse Hughes, Carly Thorne, Corey Durand and Eiko Anderson
FOH: Barista Philip Murray; Servers Ben Chen, Maya Cormier-Limbertie, and David Diaz
Map it: 1289 Gerrard St. E. (at Greenwood)
Monday – 7:30 am to 3 pm
Tuesday to Friday – 7:30 am to 10 pm
Saturday – 5 to 10 pm
Note: Lunch is served 10 am to 3 pm, Dinner begins at 5 pm.
Phone it in: 416-778-4440
How Cool is This?! Dine on Wednesdays and enjoy half-price bottles of wine.
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