Brownes Bistro - A hidden gem for over 30 years

March 1, 2017

You may have spent years in Toronto and never heard of restaurant Brownes Bistro.

With  the entrance tucked in on a side street in Rosedale - Woodlawn East - it’s remained a hidden gem for over three decades.

Jude Patrick Jacob has been here since 1996 - first as chef, and then taking over ownership in 2002.  His classic bistro menu pays homage to all things French, includes fresh creations for lunch and dinner conceived daily. 

Dishes such as Provimi Liver & Onions ($22), Atlantic Salmon ($22), and Certified Angus New York Strip Loin & Frites ($29) prove so popular, menu items often change only in spring and fall. Newly added dish, Pan Seared Tiger Shrimp & Sea Scallops ($29) is a bestseller ("People love it," says Jacob), while Italian offerings of pizza and pasta also please the crowd. 

Jacob trained in Paris, France, and brings those fine techniques and execution to his food. Making everything from scratch, he believes in simplicity – "Clean flavours, but still flavourful"  - as illustrated in his salmon dish. Skipping any oils or marinades, he simply grills salmon filets three minutes on each side to ensure the meat remains moist.

The bonus of this type of "straightforward" food, as Jacob calls it, is  it’s not heavy in the least, yet still satisfying.  And there’s no waiting around - dishes come out quickly. In fact, Jacob keep an eye on tables from the open kitchen and times the dishes accordingly – prepping the next course while guests finish their current one. So you can eat quickly or linger, it’s up to you. You set the pace.

The restauran,t celebrating 31 years in 2017, underwent extensive renovations seven years ago to keep up with the changing times – a new marble front was added to the open kitchen, along with new ceiling, sleek, warm wood furniture, and mirrors that add a modern bistro feel to the cozy space.

It’s one of the best rooms in the city. Despite seating a whopping 90 guests, the room is intimate without feeling crowded. It offers the comfort of a bistro with a clean contemporary look that compliments the sophisticated, yet unfussy food. The unmistakable European ambiance is matched with attentive service and crisp tablecloths, which fit right in here.

This Rosedale staple has long been home to the area’s affluent residents, but the demographics of the neighbourhood is quickly changing, thanks to an aging population moving out and younger generations moving in. With a number of condo developments already underway, the restaurant will soon see an influx of younger diners. They won’t be disappointed. This clean fare, featuring plenty of comfort food options, is right up their alley. And there’s a wine selection to match.

Young or old, you’d be wise to visit one of the city’s best restaurants.


Brownes Bistro is open seven days a week for lunch and dinner.

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