Tag Archives: French food

PATIO LIT EATS: XXL pork chop? Don’t mind if I do…

Now, it’s probably safe to say that patio season in Toronto is pretty much over, with rain in the forecast for the next few days and the temperature dropping below 20 by the end of the week. (Hey, at least we’re allowed to eat inside now!) But before it gets too cold to eat out in the street, we’re hitting up one last patio at Domaine MaMo on Mount Pleasant, where half the menu is French food, and the other half Italian — it’s all written in English, though. And while they’ve got six kinds of pasta and eight different pizzas to choose from, I think I’m gonna stick to the French side of the menu…

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They call this dish panisse, and what we’ve got are some thick-cut chickpea fries, crunchy on the outside but soft on the inside, with a little olive tapenade and some harissa hot sauce for dipping. Now, you’re probably supposed to eat these with a fork and knife, but the only time I use a fork to eat fries is when I’m chowing down on some poutine, son!!!

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And now it’s time for the main event. I gotta say, this Porc XXL is really just a Medium compared to this pork chop I had a few years ago or even this one. But what it might be slightly lacking in size, it more than makes up for in flavour. Nice, tender meat with a crispy breading and just a touch of lemon. There’s even more olive tapenade on the side, bro! But we’re also kicking it up a notch with some meli melo, a mix of seasonal mushrooms with garlic, herbs and cheese. You could put that on a sandale de plage, and it would still taste good!!!

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Now, for dessert, I gotta say, I’m a little disappointed that they don’t do tiramisu or creme brulee — or even some funky combination of them both. Instead, we’ve got profiteroles…but these are not your typical profiteroles, with chocolate sauce on top and vanilla gelato on the inside instead of cream. I would still crush, like, 16 of these — but they only come 3 to an order, bro…

This crème brûlée is an appetizer, NOT a dessert. Whoa…

Now, when it comes to French food, crème brûlée is one of the things I judge a restaurant on. I mean, if you can’t get that right, do you even know français, bro? But of course, it always comes at the end of the meal…until now. We’re hanging out at Peter Pan Bistro, this funky joint on Queen Street West, where they are serving up this truffle crème brûlée — as an appetizer. Fermez toutes les portes!!!!

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While this is a (mostly) savoury dish, I swear the first thing you taste is that caramelized sugar on top. You do get some of the truffle aftertaste, though, along with a hit of pickled mushrooms — and it goes great on the toast that comes on the side. The crème-to-toast ratio is almost 2-to-1 though, so it looks like I’m gonna hafta lick the knife…

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But like the title says, that was just an appetizer — now it’s time for the main course. These mussels are NOT from Brussels, but rather the Salt Spring Islands, in B.C. They’re served in a bouillabaisse broth with potatoes and chunks of corn on the cob. Oh, and a side of fries, with both ketchup and mayo. Nothing wrong with that at all — except that 5-6 of my mussels didn’t even open, bro. 😦

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Now, when a funky joint is serving up crème brûlée as a starter, I dunno how they can even do dessert, bro. It turns out their dessert menu is only two things, so I decided to have a couple beers instead — starting with this Burdock Vermont Blonde, which they actually had on tap. Easily crushable at 4.5% and not too hoppy, it sure beats having Molson Canadian on tap, bro!!!

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And now we’re bringing on another NEIPA, with this Jutsu from Bellwoods. It’s definitely heavier and hazier, but still not too, too hoppy. I could probably crush another 10 of these… and still have room for dessert?

GRAND REOPENING: 24 oz cote de boeuf for one @ Jules Bistro

Unless you’re new to Triple B, then you already know that this is body by steak, bro! So when I heard that Jules Bistro, this funky French joint on Queen West, was serving up a 24 oz. AAA grade ribeye platter for two, well, I figured that I could eat it all by myself. Hey, I did just polish off a 24 oz steak, like, a week ago, bro!!!

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I gotta say, I liked this steak even more than the one I had last week. Meat was cooked to perfection, a nice medium-rare, with a solid peppery seasoning. They even left the bone to gnaw on — although there wasn’t much meat on it. And the fries were on point; they basically tasted like McDonald’s, with a side of mayochup for dipping. But when it comes to the salad, they made a bit of a mistake…

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Now, on the menu it says you can substitute a Caesar salad for a few dollars more, and I figured that if I had to have salad with my steak, then it had better be Caesar. But as you saw in the first picture, the board came out with a plain green salad on it…and when I mentioned I had ordered the Caesar, they brought it out separately in its own bowl. Which means I now have to eat two whole salads. Not that it was gonna stop me…

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AND BOOM GOES THE DYNAMITE!!!

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Now, you might think I wouldn’t have room for dessert after such a glorious feast…but you’d be wrong, son! I am kinda glad this creme brulee wasn’t more than a couple ounces, though…

GRAND REOPENING: Snails in a half shell…snail power!!!

Now, I may not be French, but I know the French cook with a lotta butter and cream, and this is body by butter and cream, so I can go for that any day of the week, son! And it doesn’t get more French than escargot — snails swimming in garlic butter. I’ve ordered escargot a couple times at funky local joints like Le Papillon, Cafe La Gaffe and Auberge du Pommier, but here at Maison Selby, this cute little French bistro just a mime’s rope pull away from Bloor and Sherbourne, was the first place I’ve seen em served inside the shell.

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Now, after a bit of work with the escargot fork (which has two prongs, instead of three), I was able to wrestle a couple of these bad boys out onto a piece of toasted baguette. Nice texture; meaty, but not too chewy, and that garlic butter was TheBomb.fr — I just wish I had some softer bread to soak it all up…

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But you KNOW it’s gonna take more than six snails before I call it a night, bro! And it turns out this place has both kinds of lamb: leg AND shoulder, right here in their duo d’agneau. Meat was nice ‘n tender, in a rich, brown sauce…but I probably couldda eaten twice as much, and still had room for dessert.

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Don’t get me wrong, the food was pretty good, but the best thing about this meal was the beer. They’ve got this Guava Gose from Collective Arts on tap, which is equal parts fruity and sour, while looking like the kinda pink drink that FGL would stick an umbrella in. Baby you a beer, make me wanna roll my windows down and booooze!!!!!!

HEATED PATIO EATS: The full French experience @ Biff’s Bistro

So we’re hanging out at Biff’s Bistro, this funky French food joint on Front Street. I’ve been here a few times before, and they’ve always had some good grub, but during the pandemic, they’re going back to their French roots with culinary classics like duck confit, steak frites, Coquilles St. Jacques, and these crispy critters in Flavourtown, Cuisses de Grenouille — we’re talkin’ frog legs, son!

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Now, if you told me these taste like chicken, you would not be wrong. But watch out for them little bones, bro! These babies are topped with chopped ‘nduja sausage for that extra kick, and there’s like a cool ranch donkey sauce underneath, giving you that full chicken wing experience…

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And speaking of chicken, up next we’ve got another French culinary classic, coq au vin. Dude, this was some of the best cock in wine I’ve ever had, bro! The chicken just falls apart, super-tender and juicy, with some mashed potatoes, a couple mushrooms and crisp green beans. This dish was so good, I even ate all the veggies, bro!!!!

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But you KNOW I’ve still got room for dessert. And it definitely doesn’t get more français than crème brûlée, mon ami!

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Say no more, mon amour! This burned cream snaps, crackles and pops with a nice crispy shell, creamy centre and they even throw in a sugar cookie, for that extra crunch. This totally puts Auberge du Pommier to shame in the dessert department!!!

PATIO LIT EATS: Breezy Sunday brunch @ the Brick Works

As we start heading into fall, you gotta ask yourself, how cold is too cold to eat out on a patio? I saw a couple places that busted out the heaters last weekend, but if you go out in the daytime, you probably don’t need em…yet. We’re hanging out at Cafe Belong, this funky little joint in the Evergreen Brick Works, on a sunny Sunday afternoon. At 15 degrees, the weather was pretty decent — as long as the wind wasn’t blowing. But with the wind, you definitely needed a jacket.

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This place is serving up the same dishes for lunch and dinner on its all-day menu, and while they did have a couple of Sunday specials that checked all the boxes for brunch, I ended up with the duck confit, served with cherry tomatoes, green beans and creamed corn — the most veggies I’ve had all week. The bird had a nice, crispy skin, and the meat was pretty tender, but man, that corn-to-duck ratio was maybe a bit too high…

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We’re washing it down with a Muskoka Mad Tom IPA, cuz hey, it’s 12 o’clock somewhere. This beer had enough hoppy IPA taste, without being too in-your-face. And I had to hold on to the empty can cuz the wind kept blowing it over!!!

Croque Madame? Don’t mind if I do!!!

Finally… the brunch has come back to Toronto! With the city moving into Phase 3 this weekend, I now have a reason to get up before noon on Sundays again. So, we’re hanging out at Lapinou, this funky French bistro on King West, that’s serving up a three-course Sunday brunch special for 35 bucks a person — that’s like a five-finger discount in Flavourtown!!!

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We’re starting off with some bread for the table — but this ain’t just any day-old bread, bro! We’re talking warm ‘n crusty Focaccia rolls with some tomato vinegar and olive oil for dunking. Pretty sure I could slam, like, six of these…

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You’ve also got some veggies and dip — a killer bay-leaf aioli with some salsa verde on top. Dude, this is body by salsa verde!!!

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But now it’s time for the main event. We’re talking French toast, smoked ham, dijon mustard, Mornay sauce…and a fried egg on top. Crip to the Croque, the hits don’t stop!!!

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And then, at the end, a little amuse-bouche of watermelon sorbet. OK, so I couldda slammed a triple scoop of this stuff, but it was still nice ‘n cold and refreshing!!!

PATIO LIT EATS: Coq au vin poutine? Say no more, mon amour!!!

Now, everybody knows I love poutine. Dude, this is body by poutine, bro!!! So when I found out that Cluny, this funky French bistro in the Distillery District, was serving up a coq au vin poutine, I was all over that like French on bread, mec! They say it’s meant to share, but this looks more like poutine for one in Flavourtown…

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OK, now let’s break it down. The fries are super-thin, and the cheese, if it was ever in curd form, was completely melted by the time it hit the table. But the chicken was nice ‘n tender, and you’ve got these little flavour nuggets of bacon and mushroom for an extra kick. This one might not go in the Poutine Hall of Fame, but it was still a pretty tasty dish. It wasn’t even enough food for me, though — you KNOW I still had room for dessert, bro!!!

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The only thing that’s bittersweet about this Bittersweet Truffle Bar was that it’s not a bit bigger! It’s kinda like a solid chocolate mousse, with a whole lotta raspberry sauce, a few pink marshmallows and these little caramel cocoa nibs. Pretty sure I could slam three of these, and still have room for… I dunno, maybe some frog legs or something?

French food meets deep-fried diner classics @ Le Swan

Now, I dunno if they actually have diners in France. I mean, they’re all about the discotheque and the bibliothèque over there, with maybe a baguette or two for déjeuner. But when I heard about Le Swan, this funky joint on Queen West that calls itself a French diner, you KNOW I had to come check it out! And with half the menu in French and the other half in American, I was soooo down for this culinary exchange in Flavourtown!!!

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So, we’re starting off with a culinary classic from across the pond: French onion soup. Only, they do theirs a little bit different — instead of croutons, they bake the cheese onto three crispy baguettes, which are hard ‘n crusty at first, but get softer after you dump ’em in the soup. So it might not be what you’d find at, say, Le Sélect Bistro, but it’s still pretty tasty!

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But now it’s time for the main event — real-deal, southern-style chicken fried steak. Dude, I think the last time I had this dish was in Seattle, at a dingy dive that was even darker than Le Swan…which means I didn’t take any pictures. But the flavours here were definitely on point. Nice, crispy breading, with a bit of a peppery kick, on top of a bed of mashed potatoes and a gravy that really brings everything together. Now, if only they’d put, like, some raclette on top, that would really take it to the next level…

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Speaking of next-level, their rum chocolate malt really kicks things up a notch! This boozy Fudgesicle in Flavourtown takes the rich, chocolatey goodness of an old-school diner shake, and adds a nice kick of rum. This ain’t your grandmama’s milkshake, son!!!!

Pounding two pounds of mussels @ Midi Bistro, bro!

Now, I don’t always eat mussels, but when I do, it’s go big or go home. Whether it’s as a starter, a main meal or part of a massive feast, I can swallow several of these slippery suckers any day of the week! So, we’re hanging out at Midi Bistro, this funky little French joint about a block north of Dundas, where they’re serving up a redonkulous 12 different kinds of mussels to choose from. While you can get a pound of these bad boys for 17 bucks, you can add a second pound for just seven dollars more. That’s like a double dog discount in Flavourtown!!!!

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I ordered mine Quebec style, which means they’re served with goat cheese, shallots, parsley and a Blanche de Chambly beer broth. That broth goes great with bread, bro! You don’t really taste the booze, but the mussels are cooked perfectly, not too firm or too chewy. Comes with a side of fries, which were a lot like McDonald’s, except maybe not as salty. And when you order two pounds, the mussel-to-fry ratio is about three-to-one — I actually needed a refill on the fry front!

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Now, even if they didn’t really have that wheat-beer flavour, I still wasn’t gonna wash down these mussels with more Blanche de Chambly. (They have it in bottles, but not on tap.) Instead I went with a Granville Island Pale Ale, which was neither pale, nor particularly hoppy. It tasted more like a milder red ale…not that there’s anything wrong with that.