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Restaurants

Cafe Pleiade

Posted by Debbie Ohi / Reviewed on November 22, 2007 / review policy

Brie and asparagus salad
This small Mt. Pleasant restaurant (near Manor Rd.) has become one of my favourite dinner restaurants in Toronto. Jeff and I decided to eat there a few weeks ago before a movie.

I arrive first, and opt for the cozy and romantic cushion-lined corner looking out onto the street:

Cozy corner of Cafe Pleiade
The server brings me a whiteboard with the Prix-Fixe menu, in case I didn't want to order from the regular menu. Hmm...for $24.95 I can get a choice of appetizer, main course, and coffee or tea. Hungry, I decide to start my appetizer before Jeff arrives, and choose the Romaine Feta Pear salad:

Pear salad
The salad is fantastic, with perfectly ripened pear slices and a tastefully tart dressing. I'm halfway through when Jeff calls to say he's going to be late; he was held up in traffic.

I order some wine for solace. Happily, Café Pleiade has a wide selection of wines; Chef Stavros Tsimicalis is a collector. The chef, by the way, is also a published poet. He was born in Skoura, a small village by the Eurotas River in Laconia, and emigrated to Canada in 1963. After training at the Windsor Arms Hotel, he worked as a maître-d at the Millcroft Inn for many years.

But back to my (unexpectedly solitary) dinner at Café Pleiade.

For my main course, I choose the Roast Pork Tenderloin with Shiitake Mushrooms and Apple:

Roast pork
Dear god. For a moment I'm grateful that Jeff isn't here because I'd be SO ignoring him right now to focus properly on my food. Exquisitely tender meat (I rarely cook pork because inevitably I turn it into pork leather), full of flavour. I decide that I have to order this every single time I eat here.

A few weeks later we dined at Café Pleiade again, this time with Jeff's parents. I was disappointed that the roast pork wasn't on the Prix-Fixe menu but opted for Fresh-Baked Arctic Char instead (with pomegranate and citrus dill sauce, $20.95):

Arctic char at Cafe Pleiade
It was FANTASTIC. In fact, everyone was delighted by their choices. I ordered the Organic Spring Greens with Asparagus and Brie drizzled with an apple cider viniagrette ($7) which was just as good as the pear salad I had ordered last time. (Picture at top of this post.)

Another appetizer: Fresh Mussels Mariniere with tomato, onion, garlic, herbs and ouzo ($9):

Mussels at Cafe Pleiade
My mom-in-law, an ex-restauranteur, loved her Grilled Calf's Liver with Caramelized Onions ($18):

Liver at Cafe Pleiade

But after mutual taste testing, we all agreed that Jeff had ordered the best dish, which was the Supreme of Chicken with Apricots, prepared with Scotch and a light curry cream sauce ($16):

Chicken with Apricots
Fortunately we all still had room for some shared desserts (desserts range from about $4-7) like the fruit tart:

Fruit tart
And a wonderfully foamy zabaglione:

Zabaglione
And after writing all that, I'm hungry again.

You can browse the regular menu on the Café Pleiade Web site. The restaurant is closed Sunday and Monday.

Cafe Pleiade interior

Discussion

10 Comments

Tanja / November 22, 2007 at 05:21 pm
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Wow, looks delicious.
Debbie Ohi / November 22, 2007 at 06:19 pm
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It was! :-)
Gloria / November 22, 2007 at 06:37 pm
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Amazing! My boyfriend and I actually wandered by when we were looking for a dinner place before a screening of Blade Runner. We went to Five Doors North instead because the Cafe looked so packed -- in fact, we were turned away by two or three other restaurants because of crowds. We definitely have to go back.
frank / November 22, 2007 at 09:16 pm
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the chef's a laconic poet!?! wicked!
vanessa / November 23, 2007 at 10:18 am
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finding a good calf's liver is often near impossible in this city despite all the mediterranean influenced restaurants. my last experience at thuet wrote me off the restaurant entirely... the liver was fine but it (and the polenta it was sitting on top of) was drenched in a ridiculously salty sauce that i couldn't find reprieve from any of my dish. i'll have to try pelaides version for sure.
Debbie Ohi / November 23, 2007 at 02:24 pm
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Gloria: We went to Cafe Pleiade early both times but I did notice the restaurant filled up quickly!

Frank: I'm planning to track down a used copy of one of the chef's poetry books and ask him to autograph it for me. :-)

Vanessa: Sounds like you have a lot more experience with calf's liver than me. Do you ever cook it at home? I love liver but Jeff hates it so I can only have it when we eat out.
Wendy / June 18, 2009 at 05:32 pm
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Pleiade is one of my favourite restaurants. It doesn't hurt that I live nearby, but I would cross the city to go there!
Ashley / April 24, 2010 at 01:36 pm
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Let me start by saying that the art and over all decor in this place is like no other cafe in the area; it is charming.
No question about it, it is very inviting from the outside and in however I could have made this so called chef an omelette and taught him a few basics about customer service.

My sister and I popped in for brunch, I ordered the omelette with smoked salmon and asparagus, she tried the apple and cheese and was also completely disappointed.

The eggs were literally raw and soggy not to mention the asparagus was in huge chunks.
I had attempted to politely ask the waitress, his wife if I am not mistaken, for cooked eggs; this time requesting it without asparagus. Her response was and I quote....
" HE WILL NOT BE COOKING A NEW ONE, HE WILL RE-COOK THIS ONE!!!!".

Nothing really shocks me theses days but please people do not waste your money.
They seemed to cater to an older gent, a regular I imagine and ignored the needs of new young customers, very typical.

The bread was dense and dry, the salad was a joke, romaine drenched in olive oil with a few cucumbers. The coffee was warm, not hot, the capuchino even more sad, room temperature and was definitely not made with espresso.

Should have made brunch at home!!!!!

Do not be fooled by all of the old Toronto Life award stickers in the window, my guess is that those pseudo accolades are sent to most restaurants in the city; they mean absolutely nothing.
G.M. / January 29, 2013 at 08:56 pm
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My boyfriend had phoned ahead that day and spoke with the chef about the Winterlicious Menu,made a reservation and he was looking forward to a particular dish on the menu. When we arrived we were one day early so communication skills are not their strong point. When we asked about Prix Fixe the white board was unceremoniously plopped in front of us with no explanation of specialties. When I asked for a description I was told - "read the menu". When I mentioned that I was Gluten Free, finally an explanation of what was in the dishes was given. To me service and ambience are important and I felt we were getting neither one here. Had it not been a frigid night we would have left, disappointed. We did notice that 'locals' got very good service.

I would hope that the waitress learn to smile and engage the diners in future. Also some quiet jazz, or french or classical music which enhance the lovely surroundings of couches, linen table cloths, soft candleight and original art.

When our food arrived, it was fresh and flavourful and once we got over the first rude 20 minutes and just accepted the poor service, we did enjoy our evening.
Sasha / September 6, 2014 at 08:53 pm
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Mike and I were visiting that neighbourhood and since we were starving we noticed this café and walked in.
We were greeted by the chef and had the window seat.
If we were impressed with the welcome...the food just confirmed that this place is a total package.
The food was fantastic!
We ordered for crepe chicken with mushroom in white sauce and it was amazing.
We actually went back there today for brunch and the frittata with Italian sausage is a must try.
We will be going back there again soon with a few friends.

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