With its intricate preparation and rich flavours, French cuisine is traditionally reserved for special occasions. Toronto’s burgeoning bistro scene is changing that. With enticing offerings that will tempt even the most discerning eaters, you and your family can enjoy a culinary visit to France with no passports required. You can find a range of fine French food in Toronto as well as perfectly-crafted kid-friendly meals at these four eateries.
Le Sélect Bistro
You’re shown to your table amid the happy clatter of dishes and the chatter of fellow diners. The abrupt pop of a champagne cork makes you second-guess your freshly brewed coffee in favour of a mimosa, and you waver between the oeufs Bénédict and the apple and cranberry stuffed French toast. Noting that the eggs come from “pastured” hens—and eager to try real French hollandaise—you go for the Bénédict.
One of the most popular places for French food in Toronto, Le Sélect Bistro showcases the talents of chef Albert Ponzo who uses only farm-fresh and certifiably sustainable ingredients in his dishes. This commitment extends to the children’s menu where your little ones will find a tempting variety of expertly prepared options such as confit de canard (with frites, of course!) or risotto aux champignons.
The first thing you notice coming in out of the bustle of downtown Toronto’s Rosedale neighbourhood is the soothing, modern décor and bright pops of colour from under the glass display cases. Named for owner and fourth-generation pastry chef Lyonnaise Nadège Nourian, Nadège Patisserie is a boutique French pastry shop selling a select collection of sweets and sandwiches.
Whatever you do, you must try their authentic macarons, available in a dizzying variety of flavours like Iranian Pistachio, Cappuccino, and Matcha Green Tea. Make sure you peruse the gift boxes as well. These elegant packages boast bold signature designs and are filled with delectable pastries, chocolate, or gourmandises that will delight your family and friends.
As you open the door to Chabichou, you’re greeted with the sharp tang of cheese and the earthy, complex aroma of freshly baked bread. Co-owner Laurent Brion can often be seen behind the counter. Before he became a purveyor of French food in Toronto, Brion was a cheese-maker in France. He’s more than happy to share his knowledge and passion with you as he expertly guides you through the shop’s sixty-plus varieties of cheese.
Chalkboard menus announce the daily specialties. With French classics such as quiche Lorraine and beef bourguignon alongside more kid-friendly meals, this welcoming casual eatery will please even the pickiest palates in your family. While there, be sure to consider taking some French flavour back home. The prepared foods are lovingly presented, healthy, and made with quality ingredients and you mustn’t leave without an authentic French baguette—Chabichou is legendary for them.
Upon arriving at L’Avenue you’ll notice that it succeeds where many others have failed. By pairing chic design elements with pieces seemingly plucked from the French countryside, this bistro achieves a pleasing level of hominess without sacrificing elegance. The same could be said for its extensive menu. Each dish consists of hearty, simple elements, elevated by surprising combinations and plated to perfection. Try the chicken “a la Basque” to discover the flavours of the region, or opt for the calf livers and onions to experience classic French cuisine.
You’ll also want to explore the well-curated wine list. With many French bottles on offer, including several sparkling options, you’re sure to discover the perfect pairing. No French meal would be complete without dessert and, while there are many to choose from, L’Avenue’s lavender-scented crème brûlée is not to be missed. Bon appétit!