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Le Kensington Bistro & Rotisserie

Posted by Kaela Greenstien / Listed on September 14, 2011 / review policy

Le Kensington Bistro & RotisserieLe Kensington Bistro & Rotisserie is not chef Jean-Charles Dupoire and sommelier Sylvain Brissonnet's first foray into Toronto's French restaurant scene. The longtime friends already own the acclaimed Loire restaurant and have taken over the former grounds of La Palette in Kensington Market for their second mark on the city. Fine French cuisine may not be the first sort of restaurant that would come to mind when dining in the market, but with the surrounding plethora of fresh produce and cheese shops, its locale is reminiscent of a typical neighborhood brasserie mingled amongst shops on bustling Parisian streets.

Le Kensington is more détendu than Loire with a menu of contemporary French bistro and brasserie staples. Speaking French is a requirement for servers working alongside the chef/somellier duo who switch from French to perfectly stereotypically accented English with customers. Brissonnet's character-like Frenchness and flurried, yet controlled rushing about adds an extra je ne sais quoi charm to the whole experience.

Le Kensington BistroThe decor is simple, but I'm not sure what to make of the menus adorned with a pompously cheerful rooster playing waiter. The big black chalk boards menus that dominate the wall space are a charming throwback to a typical bistro.

Le Kensington BistroThe brunch menu offers some surprisingly un-brunch like options including fresh market oysters (3pc/$9, 5pc/$18), beef tartar with quail egg ($12) and whole or half rotisserie chickens ($32/$16). The French have a somewhat complicated relationship with breakfast given that aristocrats rarely rose before noon from their late night, wine-fueled escapades. Déjeuner actually translates as "break the fast" but today means lunch unless you're in Quebec and it still means breakfast which we all know, of course, thanks to Trudeau and his cereal boxes. More on why you are eating diner for brunch can be found here. For those less willing to delve into oysters for brunch, the eggs Florentine are an immaculately whipped delight served with rösti, a Swiss style of potatoes, or a market fresh petite salad at lunch time.

Dejeuner still takes on it's traditional etymology as breakfast with choices like pork belly with fried eggs ($15), eggs Benedict ($13) and wild mushroom omelette with goat cheese ($13) on the lunch menu. The simple, but insanely popular jambon beurre sandwich ($9, add $4 for salad or frites), makes the cut on the short lunch menu as well as the croque-monsieur ($9). The two sandwiches, essentially the fast-food staple for thousands of corner brasseries in France, aren't exactly the most, bah, elegant of French dishes. However, the decidedly unpretentious options felt well chosen for this Kensington home. As expected, the croque was perfectly delicious with melted gruyere cheese dripping into the creamy layering of ham and Béchamel sauce. The more adventures can opt for beef tongue in lieu of ham on their croque.

Le Kensington Bistro RotisserieThe rotisserie chicken to-go ($16/$32) is certainly a luxurious form of take out food but deeply satisfying for the inner gourmand. The chicken is without a doubt, masterfully cooked in a sauce that took chef Dupoire months to perfect. There's something about eating such an immaculately cooked piece of chicken on your couch that feels so indulgently Marie Antoinette- ceci n'est pas KFC.

Le Kensington BistroDinner includes more of the classics like moules frites ($18), steak frites ($22) and, le plat préféré of my thoroughly Parisian petit-ami, duck confit ($26). Brissonnet's carefully chosen wine list is a mix of Canadian and French wines with most glasses around $10 and bottles around $50.

Crème brûlée ($9), mais oui, finds its way onto the desert menu but I opted for the sinfully rich dark chocolate mousse ($9) with a light orange flavouring and four langues-du-chat to sweep up any left over chocolate evading the spoon.

Le Kensington BistroFor those who have visited the most visited country in the world, the dishes are elegant and meticulously crafted renditions of nostalgia inducing classics from the motherland of fine cuisine. And for those intimidated by the seemingly inedible, unpronounceable offerings of French cuisine, le Kensington is certainly an ideal place to discover some of the simple, everyday indulgences of France. The unpretentious and downright cheery service is certainly more Canadian than French and they will even let you, gasp, take your left overs to go — a true sign of refined French cuisine meets Kensington Market.

Le Kensington Bistro



Matthieu / September 14, 2011 at 11:59 am
Je pensais justement que toronto avait besoin d'un endroit comme celui la. Il te faut vendre un rein si tu veux manger dans les 3/4 des resto francais alors qu'ils ne refletent pas la vrai nourriture francaise. Encore un peu cher et ca manque un peu de specialite du sud ouest mais j'irai probablement y faire un tour prochainement.
kstop / September 14, 2011 at 12:53 pm
Enough about the food. What I'd like to know is, did the new guys actively collude with the landlord to force La Palette out, or did they just take advantage of the opportunity to trade off someone else's hard work and good reputation?
Aces / September 14, 2011 at 02:02 pm
I hate to be a grammar snob, but how the hell did this get past the editor? Confusing it's and its, misplaced commas, words left out of sentences. I could have my 12 year old sister write a more coherent review.
Yzziefrog / September 14, 2011 at 02:11 pm
If the first picture truly shows a $13 lunch ($9 sandwich + $4 salad) then this better be unicorn meat in there, and these greens should be harvested at the full moon by a gaggle of red-haired virgins. Really, it looks like 2 pieces of Wonder Bread with a handful of spring mix.

C'est beaucoup trop cher, le genre de truc qui marche dans Yorkville, mais certainement pas dans Kensington. Tout a fait decevant qu'il est toujours impossible de trouver une cuisine francaise a Toronto sans faire violence a son portefeuille.
Triffid replying to a comment from Aces / September 14, 2011 at 02:14 pm
I was just thinking the same thing. It's just depressing that someone this bad at writing is doing this job. Really, they couldn't find someone who can actually articulate ideas well, and in decent English? I mean, "finds its was onto the desert menu"?!? Did the author write this after several glasses of beaujolais, by any chance? And this in the age of spellcheckers. For shame.
Roctop / September 14, 2011 at 03:35 pm
AUGH! Don't you hate it when someone (who thinks they can write)employs a cliche yanks use to extreme? A sentence containing "je ne sais quoi" in it just certifies their competence level. The food looks sub-par by the way, just like the blog.
Matthieu / September 14, 2011 at 03:48 pm
"The French "..." rarely rose before noon from their late night, wine-fueled escapades."

That's racist.
Baaah replying to a comment from Matthieu / September 14, 2011 at 04:31 pm
Are you for serious? I hope not...she's talking about the aristocrats of 18/19th century France. Give me a break, it explains the weird 'dejeuneur/soupe' thing
Ramona / September 14, 2011 at 06:18 pm
The pricing seems really high. That photo of the 'dessert'.. that cost you $9? Three drops of mousse? Also the pricing for the fresh market oysters.. (3pc/$9, 5pc/$18) <-- why does the 5 piece cost double the price of the 3? Wouldn't you just ask for two servings of the 3 piece? Y'know.. get one free kind of?

The place seems interesting, the food looks kind of cool. Can I afford it? No way. But it's nice.
porker replying to a comment from Aces / September 15, 2011 at 04:28 pm
How right you are! This woman can barely form a sentence.
matt replying to a comment from porker / September 15, 2011 at 06:58 pm
Are you kidding? First of all, the comments about the writing are ridiculous and completely unnecessary. The writing is well done and solid. This is a restaurant review not the next great piece of literature.

Second, does anyone actually have anything to say about the restaurant? Seems like everyone is much more interested in being an arse than contributing anything of value to the comments section.

I went here yesterday after reading the review and thought it was great! I lived in Paris for years and miss this kind of food. A little pricey, yes. But totally worth it.
tnt replying to a comment from Matthieu / September 16, 2011 at 12:46 pm
It's not racism if you're only referring to white french people, smarten up!
Roctop replying to a comment from matt / September 17, 2011 at 01:44 pm
Hey, Matt: so you say that "The writing is well done and solid."
An expert are we? It's solid in the way turds are. If one plans to write about any topic, like a review, remember who is going to read it. Poor writing insults everyone. I still say the food looks blah. Maybe the photographer is to blame?
matt replying to a comment from Roctop / September 17, 2011 at 01:58 pm
And you are an expert in identifying poor writing? And photography too? Thank goodness we have you! By the way, if you think the blog is sub-par, why bother reading it? Looks like a serious case of too much time on the hands.
Ally McBeal / September 20, 2011 at 10:29 am
Definitely out of whack with Kensington, places like these threaten to transform the market into just another boring boomer(wallet)-friendly part of Toronto.
Maureen replying to a comment from matt / September 20, 2011 at 11:26 am
SO, the food is sub-par (you can tell by the way she holds the off the grocery store shelf bread over the butter pad) but the prices are over the top. I give this joint a month or two before the bank closes in.
Tikiliberationfront / October 1, 2011 at 11:19 pm
As bad as the writing is, at least she refrained from calling it a 'boite' which, from what I've seen, appears in every review put out by that odious troll at Now magazine.
Mark / February 8, 2013 at 10:44 am
I love these guys, their restaurant, their food, and for them being immaculate in their restaurant and behind it. They are fantastic next door neighbours!
I have tried almost everything on the menu, and the quality is always excellent, and the portions are generous. I enjoy many of the restaurants in the neighbourhood, but the Bistro is by far my favourite.
I hope they stay here for a long, long time!
fifi malakiki / April 30, 2013 at 12:22 am
this is my first time writing on blogto - but i feel "compelled" to after my first/last time eating @ this restaurant. lacklustre atmosphere and meal. ordered 1/2 chicken w/ root vegs. friend ordered the duck/lentils dish and another had the 1/2 chicken w/ brussel sprouts. presentation lacklustre as was taste. and price? three entrées and two glasses of wine - over 100 incl. tip. just not worth it. in the least. could only suggest redecorating and hiring an actual french chef. or just reconsider renewing your lease. dommage.
fifi malakiki / April 30, 2013 at 12:25 am
seems unanimous that whoever wrote this review was deep in cahoots w/ owners of this "i can't believe it's not la palette!"

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