Toronto is one of Canada’s top foodie cities, and when it comes to picking a place for dinner, hungry visitors and locals are spoiled for choice. But there’s a trend taking over the city that’s giving the golden age of traditional fine dining a refreshing new look. From flaky croissants to rich coq au vin, French cuisine is making a bold comeback. Here are some of the best Toronto restaurants for the perfect plat du jour.
In the heart of the picturesque and historic Distillery District, Cluny is an expansive French bistro and boulangerie with a contemporary take on French cuisine classics. A stunning tiled floor stretches throughout the space which is dotted with chatty tables and banquet seating. If you’re short on time, turn left when you enter into the boulangerie to choose from a freshly baked array of sinful pastries. If you’ve come for dinner, Cluny’s small-plates sharing menu is the most fun way to go. Try the asparagus “frites” with a crispy sesame coating for a fresh and satisfying crunch, or the salt cod donuts with smoked potato dipping sauce for something rich and filling. Seafood specials like spicy kingfish ceviche and tuna tartar are favourites for seafood fans, while dishes like frog’s legs with a ginger-red pepper sauce prove that the classics still hold weight here. Make a day of it exploring the Distillery District, one of Toronto’s most interesting neighbourhoods.
Colette Grand Café
Nothing is more pleasing to those who have a soft spot for Parisian cafes than Colette. This chic bistro is divided up into several rooms to suit your mood and the time of day: patisserie-style cafe, bar, library lounge, elegant dining, and outdoor patio. Head here for petit fours and macarons in the morning when the sun pours in, then come back in the evening for a wonderful sommelier-curated list of French wines and some rich and satisfying contemporary takes on French classic dishes. Try the coffee-brined duck breast or the lobster bouillabaise. It’s the atmosphere and impeccable service that wins you over at Colette. You truly feel transported to an elegant Parisian bistro—one you can visit at any time of day for a perfect plat du jour from breakfast to after-dinner drinks.
Located at the unassuming intersection of Queen Street and Spadina Avenue, Alo, Toronto’s newest and most-talked-about French fine-dining spot, is turning heads and booking tables months in advance. The elegant space, as nice inside as the old building is outside, appears bright and light-bathed during the day, and sultry and sophisticated in the evening. The lauded chef’s tasting menu is reasonably priced (compared with many chef’s tasting options in the city) and proves that upscale fine dining has not lost its charm. If you’re wondering, Alo is a Latin word, meaning to nourish, cherish, support, sustain, maintain, and keep. Dishes like Quebec foie gras with veal trotter and king oyster are sure to cover that definition without being stuffy. Alo should definitely be on your Toronto bucket list for French food.
With plenty of hotels in the area, you needn’t limit yourself to just one of the best Toronto restaurants for French cuisine. Take your time to enjoy each plat du jour in true laissez-faire style.