Thursday, July 4, 2013

French Restaurant in East Chinatown??!!

I take off my hat to Viv (yet again) for this.  I don't know if you've heard of Living Social -- a really good deal of the day website which offers really neat and sometimes off the wall adventures each day.  All you have to do is sign up and say which town and country you're interested in.  And you get daily emails forever (and I do mean forever) telling you what's 50% off in your town that day.  Its perfect for when you travel to another town and you want to try something new.  I guess its pretty decent too if there is coverage in your home town too and you feel like an adventure but as we're based in Bermuda where LS doesn't reach, that's tough for us.  But this week we were in Toronto and Viv found 3 things, one of which was a chic French bistro in East Chinatown in a 'burb called Riverdale to be precise.

This was Batifole and Viv bought the voucher because she spied one of my favourites -- which is cassoulet.  A magnificent dish based around white beans and the fattiest meats imagined by man -- pork belly, duck confit and white Toulouse sausage.  Combined in a casserole and baked, this is a dish to make you smile for a year.

Getting there was a breeze too once you skimmed the website and found the very precise instructions but the district it is in is not one where you'd expect to find a quality French bistro owned and chefed by  Jean-Jacques Texier (the name sounds Basque to me), the chef and manager of Sassafrass, the swanky Yorkville eatery (he lives nearby apparently and liked the lot when it came up 5 years ago when he pounced).  It is not a chic area at all.

The boss
However when you enter, things brighten up considerably and it becomes a lovely spot.  Tables and chairs are simple bistro furniture and the waiter was a charming guy (not French, I don't think) who was quite understanding when I explained I wanted to vary from the LS voucher fare (glass of wine, table d'hote menu) and have a bottle of the Grenache (very nice it was too) and the cassoulet.  Viv stayed closer to things with the savoury souffle but we both blew it on the dessert -- another favourite of mine being souffles, this one with marmalade and Grand Marnier.

Forgot to mention nearly the aperitifs -- Viv had some bubbles whilst I had a pastis.  Well you just have to in a French bistro, don't you?

So ticking off boxes as we go along: 1) cassoulet -- very, very nice; 2) souffle -- very, very nice.  Also the nice ambience, nice cold Grenache, pastis to start .... that makes for a very lovely dinner indeed!  And the bill even with my variations was exceptionally reasonable.  What more could you want?

We met a couple of guys there too who were restauranteurs themselves as Viv wanted to know how the Horse Tartare was.  I've eaten that before in France and it certainly looked great, a fact that the gentleman in question confirmed.  In fact both waxed very lyrical about their experience too.  I just wish I remembered which restaurants they said they owned.

Not sure the play button works.  But don't let me stop you.

744 Gerrard Street East
Toronto, ON
M4M 1Y3
(416) 462-9965

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