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Restaurants

Le Paradis

Posted by Beverly Cheng / Reviewed on June 11, 2009 / review policy

On an appropriately grey Parisian day, we head to Le Paradis to see what all the fuss is about. Luckily, we arrive early enough to be the first ones there and settle at the front of the house. Despite it being a damp Monday evening, Le Paradis fills up quickly and many are left waiting for a table.

A closely guarded neighbourhood secret, patrons exchange familiar nods and are welcomed by staff on a first name basis. We, on the other hand, seem to be the only outsiders. Our server is competent, but the friendliness is forced and we can't seem to shake off the feeling that we are not very welcomed here. Perhaps our reluctance to order wine with our meal is marking us as the odd ones out at this exclusive block party?

The ambiance is charming, but the dining room is dated with its cliche black and white posters, checkered linoleum floor and a painted seascape mural in the back room (an ode to the owner's Southern French roots). The open concept kitchen is inviting, as is the bar where many patrons who are unable to get a table dine. Le Paradis certainly captures the sort of casual allure of Parisian bistros, but disappoints in food and service.

Their prices are quite reasonable with most mains ranging from $14- $17, along with a changing three course menu at $20. To start off, I order the white bean and basil soup ($4). What arrives instead is lukewarm water with a medley of diced carrots, celery, beans and dried basil. I grow increasingly skeptical of a restaurant that avoids fresh herbs, particularly when it is headlining the dish. The Rustique salad ($6) is not much better. The overpowering garlic dressing drowns the wilted frisé salad, while the fried lardon bacon is rock hard, as are the whole wheat croutons.

Our mains are met with more success. The steak in peppercorn sauce ($17) albeit on the smaller side, is tender and well seasoned. The duck breast ($17) with its pink meaty center scrumptiously contrasts the crispy skin. The cherry-kirsch sauce, however, is too sweet and lacks the complexity of superior liqueur based sauces. The frites are delightfully crunchy and the green beans are crisp, though the portions are rather stingy.

With many restaurants offering competitive set menus at around the twenty-dollar mark, I'm not completely convinced that Le Paradis is a real bargain.

To the further dismay of our server, we skip out on dessert. At this point, we are unable to redeem ourselves and leave on a low note. As we walk out, the ambiance inside is increasingly convivial and many more couples file through the front door. We are left in a daze, feeling as if we missed out on something.

Le Paradis

Photos by Judy Nguyen. Exterior photo by Tatiana.

Discussion

16 Comments

ddt / June 13, 2009 at 10:03 am
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Honest revue....my suggestion?...The Brass Taps on the Danforth has half priced pizza night on wednesdays i believe, you'll be much more satisfied and will have spent half as much on a surprisingly good pizza...
Richard S / June 13, 2009 at 11:21 am
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"Perhaps our reluctance to order wine with our meal is marking us as the odd ones out at this exclusive block party?"

That is what irks me about a lot of restaurants. It seems like you're considered a second tier customer if you don't want a drink. I understand that the markup on drinks usually makes them a high profit item, but what if you just don't want to drink anything while you're eating?
Elizabeth / June 13, 2009 at 11:59 am
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It seems sort of odd to not order wine! I think it is part of the experience of French bistro dining... And their desserts are so good! The marquise au chocolat, a frozen chocolate mousse with hazelnuts, is to die for! I do agree about the decor - maybe it needs a "Restaurant Makeover"?!?
ryan / June 13, 2009 at 12:06 pm
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At the risk of conforming to the North American glutton stereotype, I have to agree with the poster...not enough food! I've unfortunately had to follow up dinner at Le Paradis with a slice of pizza to satiate my hunger.
JC / June 13, 2009 at 01:16 pm
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Ignore this review completely...the value for the price at this place IS exceptional. Full stop. I'm talking meals for two with appetizers, wine, entrees and desert for around $100 or even less...the meals are very satisfying. Yes the entrees are small-ish but that's because meals at french bistros typically involve an appetizer, entree and desert -- with reasonable prices it is completely feasible to order all 3 for the same price as you would an entree at many other restaurants.

j-dub / June 13, 2009 at 01:28 pm
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I was completely underwhelmed with this place. The prices were right but I'd rather spend a few more $'s and eat good food.
I was at Le Select last night and the food was excellent.
I get the feeling some people just get comfortable with a familiar restaurant and don't venture out enough.
jack / June 13, 2009 at 01:47 pm
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my suggestion.. bbq duck at T & T grocery store, ask the guy chop it into 4 pieces, add stir fried veggie from the ready to go section.. and taro mousse cake from the bakery..
JC replying to a comment from j-dub / June 13, 2009 at 03:43 pm
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That's fine, nobody would dispute your right to spend more money for better food. I mean, for more money, you should get better food. but it still doesn't change the fact that, I would argue, Le Paradis offers a very good meal for the price.

scott / June 13, 2009 at 08:27 pm
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le paradis is great and is probably the only paris neighbourhood-style restaurant in the t-dot that doesn't charge extra because it's french. the only thing wrong with this place is the aging decor. the food is great, inexpensive and portions are fine. as for ddt's comment about eating at brass taps - that's fine if you like that humid bathroom smell with your "food".
Josie / June 14, 2009 at 10:17 pm
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This place has portions that are stingy and really unpleasant, unfriendly service. There are lots of better paris places. Hey and steer clear of Crepes a gogo across from the reference library. The matron/tyrant seems to bark at everyone all the time and really small portions. They act like what they're doing is incredible and super authentic. Yeah, ok but really, it is crepes. They are cheap to make and very expensive if you want a good meal like what you'd get in paris. Both these places are not worth the money.
I like Le Select and the price is pretty similar.
Josie / June 14, 2009 at 10:19 pm
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This place has portions that are stingy and really unpleasant, unfriendly service. There are lots of better paris places. Hey and steer clear of Crepes a gogo across from the reference library. The matron/tyrant seems to bark at everyone all the time and really small portions. They act like what they're doing is incredible and super authentic. Yeah, ok but really, it is crepes. They are cheap to make and very expensive if you want a good meal like what you'd get in paris. Both these places are not worth the money.
I like Le Select and the price is pretty similar.
Hamish Grant / June 15, 2009 at 12:41 am
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go ahead, haters... spread your vile - it will keep this place from being overrun by idiots who don't appreciate good food and ambiance. Leave Le Paradis to those who have loved it for years and will continue to do so.
JC / June 15, 2009 at 10:47 am
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Le Select is not a comparison - it is pricier. Jack Astor's is a comparison, I'll take Le Paradis any day.
Christine . / January 16, 2012 at 10:18 am
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I first went to Le Paradis over 20 years ago. The food was always outstanding, and it has always been a favourite spot to gather for birthdays, anniversaries or just a nice meal out. Last night we went for a family birthday - there were 10 of us. We had called to make a reservation, and were told that they did not accept reservations for tables over 6 people. So we arrived at 5:30pm on a Sunday night in order to seure a table. When we arrived, the hostess asked if we had made a reservation - we told her that we were told because there were over 6 of us, we were not allowed. She became very curt and rude, almost immediately. She then tried to seat us by the door/entrance, but it was extremely cold and drafty. We asked if we could be moved to the upstairs or downstairs dining areas, and she said those areas were reserved. I don't think I have ever been spoken to so rudely at a restaurant, it was shocking. She reluctantly sat us along the wall, a little further inside the restaurant, facing the open kitchen. As soon as we were seated, one of the waiters came over to us and apologized, she was clearly embarrassed by the hostess's behaviour. There was a lot of tension in the kitchen between the chefs and the wait staff... Unpleasant to witness, to say the least. When our waiter (who was lovely) asked the kitchen for no garlic for one of the dishes (because of a food allergy), we overhead the chef say in a rather loud voice, 'Come on... Its a Sunday night'. In the current economy, I would think that restaurants would be grateful for a group of 10 people, but we were made to feel unwelcome by the hostess from the moment we arrived. Le Paradis has long been one of our favourite restaurants in the city... But after last night's experience, we will never go back. What a shame.
RusskyDiner / October 18, 2013 at 11:13 am
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You guys are crazy...I've been coming here since 2001 several times a year and have never had a negative experience. In fact, some of my gf's and mine favorite dining experiences have been here: one anniversary, after the meal was done i asked the waitress to bring out a cupcake that i brought (gf loves red velvet) but the waitress said that due to dietary restrictions she can not bring out of the kitchen. Rather than it being the end of discussion, while my gf went to the bathroom she suggested setting us up a table on the back pation (even though it was closed) and comping some desserts and coffees. I gladly obliged and after she brought out the house desserts and coffees, she snuck out the cupcake as well...Its the little things that stick with you! as for the decor, i like the fact that it did not jump on the modernization train: many cafes/bistros in Paris still are decorated this way and i believe it brings a little charm into the dining experience ...my 2 cents
helena Grossman / November 12, 2013 at 07:20 pm
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do not change anything!!!! It is wonderful...!!!!

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