Classic French Dishes at a Reasonable Price
Location: Toronto, Canada
Address: 1097 Queen St East
Time of visit: Dinner on a Saturday in October
The dark, jewel-toned candlelit restaurant certainly resembles a classic bistro and makes a great date location. However, with limited seating, you should make a reservation to avoid disappointment. On the night of my visit with girlfriends, we found a similar crowd - groups of friends catching up over glasses of wine and traditional French cuisine.
We decided to start with their appetizer of the day, pork belly with tempura shrimp ($14). The shrimp was the better of the two proteins but I wouldn't consider it to be tempura - more like lightly battered. The pork belly, although crispy, was too lean for my taste; a thin layer of fat would have given it more flavour and contrast to the crisp skin.
I ordered the duck confit with a black current glaze ($26). It was refreshing to have a confit that wasn't overly salty so that the taste of duck could still be enjoyed. The meat was very tender and went well with the black current glaze. The skin could be rendered more as most parts of it were slightly soggy. Surprisingly, the crisp green beans accompanying the dish were one of the most enjoyable parts - perfectly cooked and flavoured.
Duck confit with black current glaze (1)
You can't be at a bistro without trying the steak frites ($27) which is what one friend had. The frites were exactly what I like - fresh potatoes fried until they are crisp on the outside but still dense and flavourful in the middle, only lightly salted. The strip loin (?) was a generous portion and tender but lacked the stronger "black Angus" flavour I prefer.
My other companion had and the daily risotto ($25), on this day was with lamb and goat cheese. Keep in mind I'm basing this review on only one bite - I must say it's not what I like. The tangy goat cheese didn't merry well with lamb and risotto in my opinion. Its slightly grainy texture ruined the creaminess of what I enjoy about risottos.
Given I don't have a sweet tooth, I rarely order desserts. But, my friends are very different from me, so we ordered two things to share. If anything, I thought their desserts were the highlight in the meal.
- The chocolate terrine was a cross between a ganache and mousse and was a melt-in-your-mouth creamy texture. It also went wonderfully well with the raspberry and vanilla custard sauces that decorated the dish.
Chocolate terrine (3)
- The blackberry upside down cake was my favourite. Cooked in a skillet, the dish was served warm and topped with generous amounts of sweet black berries which baked right into the cake. I thoroughly enjoyed the plump blackberries popping in your mouth and combining with the sweet warm vanilla cake.
Blackberry upside down cake (4)
Dinner for three with a bottle of wine and three cafe au laits came to $199.
Overall mark - 7 out of 10
Gastro World's Grading System
- Anything under 5 - I really disliked and will never go back
- 6 - decent restaurant but I likely won't return
- 7 - decent restaurant and I will likely return
- 8 - great restaurant that I'd be happy to recommend
- 9 - fantastic restaurant that I would love to visit regularly and highly recommend
- 10 - absolute perfection!
- Duck confit with black current glaze - Sifu Renka (http://www.flickr.com/photos/sifu_renka/3690301665/in/set-72157620999191360)
- Steak frites - Fare Bistro (http://www.facebook.com/FareBistro)
- Chocolate terrine - Sifu Renka (http://www.flickr.com/photos/sifu_renka/3690301665/in/set-72157620999191360)
- Blackberry upside down cake - Yelp (http://www.yelp.ca/biz_photos/fare-bistro-toronto?select=XbBQ-z8j3BnUQgtZ855v0A#AgZCmkXh-s8Gc8D-wfjGyg)