Tag Archives: French food

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.

St. Jacques is no jokes @ Cafe Boulud!

Now, you know me, I’ll eat just about anything that moves. But I can’t even remember the last time I had scallops — I think it mighta been the cold ones at Langdon Hall. And those were not your ordinary scallops! So, when I found out that Cafe Boulud, this funky French joint inside the Four Seasons, was serving up a legit Coquilles St. Jacques, I was all over that like a beret on a baguette, bro!!!!

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Don’t get me wrong, these little flavour nuggets of the sea were seared to perfection, with some corn puree, cherry tomatoes, and a truffle vinaigrette…but what makes it are the lardons!!!

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Pretty much any time you add little chunks of bacon to a dish, you KNOW it’s gonna be good! The problem was that this dish was kinda small — it only took up like one-third of the plate. But that just means I still had room for dessert…

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Dude, this chocolate molten cake was too legit to quit, son! You’ve got a great ball of chocolate, oozing with chocolate sauce, with a little scoop of caramel ice cream and a smear of caramel sauce — I could eat that all day and all of the night, bro!!!!!

Funky French/German sausage feast @ Le Sélect Bistro!

Dude, we’re hanging out at Le Sélect Bistro, this funky French joint just south of downtown Chinatown that’s been cranking it out and dishing it up since 1977 — it’s like the Plastic Bertrand of Flavourtown! And with a brunch menu serving all kinds of French comfort-food classics, you KNOW Ça plane pour moi, bro!!!!

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This here’s their choucroute garnie a l’Alsacienne, a quadruple pork party from the German border. You’ve got chunks of bacon, pork hock, and not one, but two kinds of sausages — Strasbourg and Montbeliard, served up on a bed of sauerkraut. But the housemade dijon mustard is what makes it!!!!!!!

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Bro, I would sooo put that on a flip-flop! And of course, because it’s 5 o’clock in France, we’re washing it down with a Belgian beer:

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Now, any beer with both “Grim” and “Bergen” in its name and you know it’s gonna be evil! I first had this double amber at Bodega, and it actually went down a bit smoother this time… A couple more of these and I’d be on my way to kill Euronymous!!!

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Of course, even after scarfing down four kinds of pork and practically a pound of sauerkraut, you KNOW I still had room for dessert. This mini dark chocolate mousse was topped with fresh berries and served with a passionfruit cookie — so at least I got one serving of fruit today.

Lamb two ways @ Auberge du Pommier

Now, after having a surprisingly satisfying dinner at Canoe, we decided to check out the other fancy O&B joint, waaay up in North York – Auberge du Pommier. This upscale funky French place has been going for 30 years, so you know it’s gotta be good. And when I heard they were serving up not one, but two kinds of lamb, I totally had to try it!

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But first, we’re starting off with some escargot. These slimy little snails are served with a couple little croutons on a big green sea of watercress. Whatever happened to mushroom caps, bro?

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And now it’s time for the main event. When the menu said they’re serving up lamb sirloin and shank, I figured that’s gotta be a lotta baa-baa black sheep! But as you can see, they really only give you a little taste of each. I’m soooo gonna have room for dessert, broooo!!!

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When it comes to dessert, what could be more français than crème brulée? But just like that crazy deconstructed chocolate cake at Canoe, this was not your normal burnt cream. You’ve got these little mini cream brulees, served with passionfruit, Thai basil and a coconut ice cream. It might be a little too funky, but I’d eat that ice cream off a flip-flop, though!!!

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Now, the best part of this meal has gotta be the beer. They’ve imported this Loirette Saison from Brasserie de la Pigeonelle in the tiny little town of Céré-la-Ronde, France. Well, Céré-la-Bouche, cuz that’s some good stuff, son!!!

Legit lobster BLT @ La Société

So, we’re hanging out at La Société, this funky French bistro on Bloor St. Of course, you’ve got your duck confit, your cassoulet, your beef bourguignon…but for lunch, they’re also serving up a bunch of funky sammies, like a croque monsieur, roasted turkey, and this chicken of the sea, lobster BLT:

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OK, now let’s break it down. You’ve got these thick, meaty chunks of lobster in a lemon aioli, with some crispy bacon, crisp lettuce…and I guess there’s a tomato in there somewhere? Comes with a great big cup of fries — with both ketchup AND mayo, bro!!!

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Now, I’m normally more of a ketchup man, but as they say, when in Quebec, ou est la bibliothèque! I guess you could even make your own mayochup, but that might not be such a good idea at lunchtime…

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Speaking of getting mayochup’ed, this place only has two beers on tap — but they’re Kronenbourg and Lagunitas, so, y’know, quality over quantity, bro! This little half-pint will set you back nine bucks, though… Like I said, it’s a fancy French restaurant!!!

Duck confit on a bun for this funky French brunch!!!

Now, I don’t really celebrate Easter — I pretty much eat Peeps 24/7, bro!!! — but I’ll take any excuse to go for brunch that I can get. So, we’re hanging out at Le Paradis, this funky French bistro that’s kinda in the middle of nowhere, on Bedford north of Davenport. This place has got everything on their brunch menu from steak tartare to eggs benny to a raclette cheeseburger — although I see they’ve omitted the beer-braised lamb, which makes me a sad lambda. But we’re still eatin’ good in this neighbourhood!!!

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We’re starting off with moules a la marinière, these PEI mussels steamed with white wine, garlic and onions. Dude, who needs muscles from Brussels when you can have mussels from Charlottetown???

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But you know that was just a light snack in Flavourtown, so now we’re moving on to the main event — a duck confit sammy on a ciabatta with a fried egg on top! It’s like if Italy was facing off against France in the kitchen, and they both laid an egg — which sounds kinda like a soccer game, eh? The duck is nice and tender, you’ve got the crunchiness of the ciabatta, and then that egg oozing all over the place… Man, I’d actually sit through a soccer game if you fed me a few of these!!!

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Now, here’s where we kick brunch up a notch with a pint of Averbode Abbey Ale, this Belgian brew from the 14th century. Well, OK, I don’t think this one was actually brewed in the 1300’s — that would be some pretty skunky beer, bro! But I gotta say, it was a nice, fruity, brunchy beer with a deceptively strong 7.5% kick. I’m not drunk or anything, but I might have led the resto in a round of “Frère Jacques” — sonnez les matines, son!!!

Pounding crispy pork knuckles @ Biff’s Bistro

Have you ever had a knuckle sandwich, bro? I don’t mean the kind where you get punched in the kisser… We’re talkin’ pork knuckle, son! They may not put it between bread, but at Biff’s Bistro, this funky French joint on Front Street, they’re frying up and dishing out the best part of the pig, and its hors de la chaine, mec!!!

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OK, now let’s break it down. The pork falls off the bone – they don’t give you a steak knife cuz you don’t even need one! You’ve got some new potatoes, green beans, and sauerkraut, giving it a little saltiness. But man, the crispy pork skin is what makes it, bro! You could put this stuff on a flip-flop (or on top of bad poutine), and it would still taste good!!!

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Of course, after eating every single bite of this pig fist, you KNOW I still had room for dessert! Last time I was here, I had a Bomb.fr slice of chocolate cake, so I had to get an instant replay on that one. This gateau is super-rich, with a toffee sauce, and a whole lotta peanut butter mousse on the side… It’s like Paris by Night in Flavourtown!!!