Bacchanal, an elevated nouveau French bistro, brings back classic French fare (hors d'oeuvres!) with vivacity. Alongside creative cocktails (absinthe!), vigourous vinos, and stunning interior as backdrop, dinner party feels are practically guaranteed.
“There’s small plates and tapas trends. I wanted to respond to that with hors d’oeuvres,” says executive chef Luke Donato. “It’s a nice way to open your palate.”
Watching Jacques Pépin and Julia Child growing up, the former Campagnolo chef has always had a love for fine dining, coursed dinners, “and especially bistros.” Serving up “eclectic dishes with a nod to classics,” the menu features everything from Pâté de Grand-Mère ($9) and Dover Sole à la Grenobloise ($42) to Oeufs en Meurette ($15) and Cote du Bœuf – Tout Garni ($75).
Staunchly “bringing it into 2017” with slightly smaller proteins and slightly higher acids, this refined made-from-scratch fare delivers equal parts homage and invention.
Jason Griffin (formerly of Montreal’s William Gray Hotel Maison Boulud and Ritz-Carlton Hotel) is an exceptional mixologist who draws you in with fascinating elixirs. He’s even created a secret/not-so-secret absinthe cocktail list.
And GM/Sommelier Lachlan Dennis (former sommelier and manager at Le Select Bistro) has got you covered when it comes to wine. With “esoteric varieties,” the predominantly French wines aren’t the usual suspects. And be sure to check out their vin au verre program, an expansive list of both old and new world wines by the glass ($11-$18), including:
- Château de la Galissonnière Muscadet, Loire, France (2015) – $12
- Domaine Dampt, Chablis, France (2015) – $18
- Biondi Santi “Braccale,” Toscany, Italy (2012) – $15
No Pinot Grigio by the glass? How refreshing.
Fixtures and Fittings
What a room.
But it sure didn’t start out that way. An entire wall was removed, pillars were stripped of drywall and tiles, and the porcelain bar got turned in the completely opposite direction.
From the roomy velvet stools and very deep bar, to the custom toile featuring whimsical vignettes of Toronto (Sam the Record Man, raccoons and pigeons, to name just a few), it’s a comfy, cozy spot with personality.
The open kitchen isn’t just pretty to look at. There’s a bevy of new equipment to keep the kitchen on point, and Donato’s set up is a classic brigade system.
And just wait until you head to the washroom. I can’t post a photo of it, so you’ll just have to go see for yourself.
Off the Menu
The Dali ($14)
An ode to the Surrealist art movement born in Paris, this whimsical sipper of London Dry Gin, Crème de Violette, herbes de provence, fresh lemon, and butterfly pea flower is as captivating in the glass as it is on the palate.
La Belle Epoch ($14)
A play on a champagne cocktail, combines Amaro Nonino, Luxardo Bitter Blanco, oleo saccharum (macerated citrus peels in sugar) and Cava. A great way to start the night.
Lorde de Mere
No longer available, replaced by Papillon featuring Demerara Rum, Chambord, mezcal, oleo saccharum, and lime.
Leeks Vinaigrette ($7)
Leeks become so tender from poaching, fine strings fall away with every bite. Topped with sabayon, fines herbes and espelette, this “France-on-a-plate” is a must.
Oeufs Pépin ($7)
Donato watched Chef Pépin make this on TV countless times, so no wonder the dish is reminiscent of the classic, with garnish of minced onions, capers and top-shelf anchovies. A slight curry heat wafts up from the sauce marie-rose.
Jambon Blanc ($8)
Sometimes simple is best – enjoy delicate slices of Jambon blanc from France piled high, nestled next to remoulade, quintessential gherkins, served with fresh baguette made daily.
Hamachi Cru ($19)
Yellowtail gets a flourish of lemon cucumber emulsion on top, followed by shavings of burgundy truffle and a few leaves of micro watercress.
Donato makes all pastas from scratch and this is one not to be missed. With all the elements of escargots, snails have never been so sexy. The tangle of textures – plump snails, toothsome pockets boosted with cocoa then stuffed with hen of the woods and button mushrooms, dotted with additional macrofungi, and finished with Alain Ducasse’s silky satiny sauce iodine – are intoxicating.
Magret de Canard ($31)
You’ll notice Japanese plateware used throughout the meal, but it’s this dish that feels most Japanese in execution and reverence. Seared duck is paired with a single parsnip confit in duck fat, luscious foie gras, gastrique, finished with duck jus flavoured with poached plums.
Truite des Fjords ($29)
Tender Ocean trout boasting crispy skin, set atop buttery rich, sorrel sauce (“sauce a l’oseille”), with carefully turned cucumber on the side.
Save room for pastry chef Cori Osborne’s Paris – Brest ($15) with choux and hazelnut praline crémeux. And her elegant presentation of Crème Bachique ($15) with frozen champagne grapes, caramelized walnuts and verjus gelee, was made for the ’gram.
Bacchanal accommodates 100 guests for dinner and drinks – with seating for 12 to 14 in the semi-private wine room, and 15 at the bar.
Head Honchos: General Manager/ Sommelier Lachlan Dennis and Executive Chef Luke Donato
At the Stove: Executive Chef Luke Donato
At the Bar: Jason Griffin
FOH: General Manager/ Sommelier Lachlan Dennis
Map it: 60 Sudbury St. (Queen and Dufferin)
Visiting Hours: Wednesday to Sunday, 5 to 11 pm
Phone it in: 416-586-1188
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