Coquine Restaurant is a bustling French bistro just south of Eglinton on Yonge Street. And I mean bustling - on a recent visit for lunch on a Tuesday the place was packed with suits, ladies who lunch, and Yonge and Egg-er's looking for a tipple to wash down their fine French food. In business for over five years, the restaurant took over from the old Manor Arms Pub.
Owned by Rob Prete, formerly of nearby Grazie Ristorante, Coquine has channels the interior decor of a Parisian bistro, brimming with those kitschy Martini vermouth posters, tiled floors and mirrored everything. A bar greets guests with black stools with comfy red cushions. Staff seem to know everyone, and seasoned servers make sure they are equal parts charming and entertaining.
Chef Sandro Bustamante (formerly of Gooderham House and Shark City) maintains a typical Parisian menu: staples like mussels, croque monsieur, and steak frites unsurprisingly dominate the menu, while a rotation of daily specials keep things interesting.
Wine and beer comes by the glass, ½ litre or bottle, and prosecco and champagne offer some bubbles. Prices are pretty steep for single orders ($14 for my glass of J.Lhor merlot, $10 for my friends domestic Pellar Estates Riesling), but bottles offer better rates. Cocktails are also nifty, with a cheeky chalkboard sign advertising their barrel aged manhattan ($14).
Bread with white bean dip is gratis (there's my OAC French credit hard at work), but we skip over those empty carbs for something definitely more French - poutine ($14)! Okay, while not a staple in the City of Light, this version could be. Frenched up with duck confit and brie, this massive portion was over the top rich and satisfying, just a touch too salty.
Escargots ($9) come soaked in a buttery Pernod base topped with Gruyere cheese and a toasted baguette, and were so good I wanted to cancel my main and just re-order more.
Luckily I didn't, because the delicious Quiche du jour ($16, lead photo) is a creamy pie of eggs, herbs, shallots and mushrooms. The crust comes slightly burnt, just the way I like it. It's the perfect sized portion and the hit of greens with a lemony vinaigrette provides a nice contrast to the weight of the eggs.
My friend's Salade du thon ($15) is basically a gussied up tuna salad with omega heavy avocado and eggs. Flecked with chunks of celery, green pepper and red onion it's a decent salad, but just not really great value for $15.
Flourless Torte au Chocolat ($9) is a decadent dessert and perfect for sharing. The presentation is sweet, with raspberry coulis swirl and a minimal two berries to fight over. The warm cake oozes out the good stuff, but we pretty much balked at finishing it. The coffee ($3) helped to neutralize the sugar buzz and refills were offered a few times.
With a wrought iron encircled side patio, (next to their Coquine l'Express Cafe for those in a hurry), a Yonge street facing patio, the cozy interior and quaint bar, Coquine makes their business through regulars who love this place equally for the food as it's charismatic servers. During our meal, the manager popped by to pick up a coat that we had dropped, and another server stopped to explain a menu item that we were mulling over. Service is one area that's commonly overlooked and here it's clearly celebrated.
Coquine welcomes private parties in a dedicated event space as well as offering a full catering menu. It is not wheel chair accessible.