Who Are We? We’re BFFs whose love of stuffing our faces has taken us to the US and Europe in search of the world’s top restaurants. But recently, we decided to have some food adventures closer to home. We’re setting out to try one new (or at least new to us) Toronto restaurant every week for a year – or at least until we can no longer fit into our clothes.
And here’s the catch… we want to give you an authentic experience so all of our reviews are done anonymously. As far as the restaurant is concerned, we’re just two patrons who take lots of photos of their food. Or are we?
This week, we hit up Pain Perdu Bistro, a recently opened extension of the popular bakery.
Address: 1385 Yonge St.
Vibe: Elegant but not stuffy
Closest subway: Lawrence Station
Drink menu: Excellent wine list
Service: Very friendly
First Impressions: We don't venture uptown very often, but it's hard to resist French food, especially when it comes from the team behind one of our favourite bakeries, Pain Perdu on St. Clair West. Chef Evaristo De Andrade, a former pastry chef at the pâtisserie, brings the food he grew up with in the south of France to this new, traditional French bistro. He's also responsible for all the paintings hanging on the wall, and is interested in architecture and design, which explains the well-appointed decor. For a guy who's only 31, he seems to have already mastered a variety of careers. But it's his skills in the kitchen that had us checking out their brunch menu on a recent Saturday.
Pain du Vénissieux ($9)
We started with a basket of pastries from the St. Clair West bakery. We were treated to two of each: cinnamon brioches, croissants, baguettes, and pain au chocolate. Each was warm, flaky and delectable, though the raisin-dotted brioches were our clear favourites.
Soupe a l'Oignon ($9)
We can't go to a French restaurant without ordering French Onion soup, and Chef De Andrade's version certainly didn't disappoint. Hearty bread was covered in generous layers of melted Gruyere cheese, swimming in a flavourful dark veal-based broth. Our benchmark for French Onion soup is cheese restaurant Artisanal in NYC and this is the closest we've come to that experience in Toronto. If it weren't for the food still to come, we would have ordered another round of this in a heartbeat.
Quiche Lorraine ($12)
A sizable slice of quiche was served with fresh greens that had been lightly tossed with sweet dressing, and a small pile of perfectly seasoned home fries. The quiche was filled with big chunks of bacon, but was slightly undercooked, leaving the bottom crust a bit too soggy for our tastes.
Steak Frites ($25)
Any disappointment we felt about the quiche was immediately forgotten the second we cut into the large steak. The wonderfully rare, chargrilled meat was tender, well-seasonsed and served with a dollap of Beurre Maitre d'Hotel. It was accompanied by crispy, skinny fries dusted with garlic and parsley and a small salad.
Tart au Citron ($9)
For our first dessert, we ordered the classic lemon tart, which was silky smooth and so delightfully tart it made us pucker. The crust was perfect and not too heavy. The sweet, fresh local strawberries were a great compliment to the tart.
We opted to finish with a traditional French dessert. Two light choux puffs were filled with vanilla ice cream and coated with dark chocolate. Roasted almonds and local strawberries dotted the plate. They were wonderfully messy and a delectable way to end the meal.
Final Thoughts: What the waiter didn't know about the food, he made up for in friendliness and a willingness to ask the kitchen and report back. Our brunch impressed us enough that we're planning another trip uptown to check out their dinner menu, which is packed with traditional French dishes like Cordon Bleu and escargots in puff pastry.