“The best french food in chinatown”

Last night was my husbands birthday and he had requested a home cooked meal, but a busy work week and empty fridge meant an impromptu dinner out.  We decided to stay local, and it seemed like the perfect chance to try out Batifole in Leslieville.  This restaurant has been getting great reviews and since chef Jean-Jacques Texier came from Sassafrazz, I had a feeling the food would be great.  After all, he needs to cook great food to drive people out of the trendy Yorkville hood and into Chinatown right?

When we arrived at the restaurant there were a handful of other tables already there, so while it wasn’t packed, it was pretty busy considering it was a rainy, Thursday night.  We were quickly seated and ordered a bottle of wine from their very extensive, and very french, wine list.  You could easily splurge with a fancy bottle but there are also a lot of reasonably priced options.  We started our meal with one of the daily specials, a terrine of pork, wild boar and chicken liver.  Served with homemade crackers, pickles, grapes and roasted red pepper the terrine was presented beautifully and tasted equally good.  I find terrine can be tricky, but this was the perfect balance of flavours and texture.

For my main I ordered Le Cassoulet Royal, rustic baked white beans with duck confit, sausages and crispy pork belly.  This is never a dish for the faint of heart, or appetite and Chef Texier’s version is no different.  That being said, I found the meat delicious, perfectly cooked and very flavourful.  I couldn’t finish it all but put in a good effort.  I definitely recommend ordering a side salad to balance out your meal.

My husband went with the Duo de Canard – “duck” for those of you who didn’t take french in school.  I was lucky enough to get a few bites and it was really good.   The ratatouille, olives and thyme served over top were a perfect match.

So all in all I would recommend Batifole for a weeknight dinner or special date night.  It seems like a great local, go-to spot for a quiet night out.  The patio out front would be great in the summer although the neighbourhood would still be what you could call “up-and-coming”.  But the good news is, parking on the street is free after 6.

Batifole, 744 Gerrard Street East, 416-462-9965

Food 4/5     Service 5/5     Value 4/5     Overall Rating 4/5

My first Michelin Star experience

This post is a little off topic, since technically Dio Deka is in California not Toronto.  I wanted to write about it just because I have never before had the chance to try out a Michelin star-rated restaurant.  And if you read my last post, the timing seemed perfect since I had just questioned if there was any greek food I could really love.

Since it was a work event I didn’t get too many photos, here’s a few of the salad and moussaka.  The salad was yummy, great feta cheese, but I’ve never really eaten a greek salad I didn’t enjoy.  The moussaka was really good.  Not as greasy as some that I’ve had in the past.  I guess I was impressed, it was better then the greek food I’ve eaten in Toronto, although I really thought I would be more “wowed” by a Michelin star restaurant.

Good greek, or great?

On Friday night we were meeting friends for drinks on the Danforth so decided to check out some Greek food.  Since it was a bit of a last minute decision I did some quick searching online to find a recommendation.  One of the places that showed up on several lists was Avli.  Since we’d never tried it we decided to check it out.

I’ll start by saying that I’ve never been a huge fan of greek food, I love the appetizers but they lose me after that.  Since Avli is famous for their dips – at least according to the sign outside – we started with a trio of eggplant, roasted red pepper & goat cheese and hummus.  And because we can never resist melty cheese, an order of saganaki.  Everything was delicious.  The dips were fresh and flavourful – and the pita served with them was perfectly crispy and soft at the same time.  I also doubt I need to say that the hot, melty, salty cheese that is saganaki was fantastic… although I’m not sure it’s possible to make that wrong.

For mains I had the greek salad and my husband ordered chicken in a pita.  We both agreed that the ingredients were fresh and flavourful, and very good.  Amazing?  I don’t know.  I will say that the service was great, the staff were very friendly and I get the feeling this places gets a lot of regulars.

I don’t know if it’s possible for me to find truly amazing greek food in the city that will make me fall in love with this cuisine.  I guess I might have to check out a few other places to compare and see.  Please let me know if you have a favourite place that you think might do it.

Avli Restaurant, 401 Danforth Avenue, 416-461-9577

Food 3/5     Service 3/5     Value 4/5     Overall Rating 3/5

No more food court thai for lunch

Don’t get me wrong, sometimes a quick fast-food lunch is just what I need on a busy work day.  But next time I’m craving some real pad thai I will definitely be dragging my co-workers to Khao San Road.  My friend Elizabeth and I checked it out at lunch today.  (Note: If you’re going for lunch,  get there early. At 11:50, the place was full.)

I ordered the Pad Thai Sam Ros ($12), according to our waitress it is the most popular dish.  Might seem crazy, and maybe it’s just the excitement of my first restaurant, but I do think it might be the best I’ve ever had.  I’ve never been to Thailand so I can’t compare but this dish was amazing.  The flavours were so rich and the spice (medium) was more than enough for me.  I’ve always found pad thai tricky to make at home so I feel like I’ve eaten a good sampling of what Toronto has to offer, some delicious, others shockingly bad.  This was miles beyond anything I’ve tried, the sauce had so many layers of flavour and was perfectly thick and creamy.

Elizabeth ordered the Pad Gra Prao ($10), a dish I had never tried before.  Thank goodness for friends who share!   It is basically stir-fried pork (you can get chicken or beef instead) with holy basil and jasmine rice, topped with a fried egg (shell out the extra $1 for the egg, apparently it’s a must-do!).  My description is not doing it justice, let’s just say, if I can convince myself away from the pad thai I will be ordering this next time.

One thing you may already know, or will soon learn if you keep following this blog is that my eyes are almost always bigger than my stomach.  I couldn’t resist adding the soup and spring roll to my main for just $3.   The soup was the perfect mix of sweet, sour, salty and spicy – another hit!  The spring roll took a back seat in my photo because I assumed it was just the same-old cold roll.  It was a lovely surprise to find it busting with flavour from the chicken sausage hidden inside, even the dipping sauce was so good we scooped some on for the second bite.

So there you have it.  My first restaurant on this culinary experience and I have to say I think this is going to be fun!   I might even try to squeeze in a second trip here to check out the dinner experience.

Khao San Road,  326 Adelaide Street West

Food 5/5     Service 5/5     Value 5/5     Overall Rating 5/5

Here we go!

My first post.  Still figuring out how to do this but for those of you checking it out – thank you and hopefully it will be more exciting soon.

I haven’t decided where my first meal will be, but hopefully it will be this week.

And if you have any recommendations for me to try please check out the list and then send me a note.