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Best of Toronto

The Best French Restaurants in Toronto

Posted by Derek Flack / December 2, 2011

Best French Restaurants in TorontoThe best French restaurants in Toronto might deal in a relatively limited quantity of dishes, but they show off a wide variety of approaches to the country's much-loved cuisine. There was a time when it might have been possible merely to divide the city's French offerings into the categories of casual bistro and upscale dining room, but as the list below shows, there's a growing middle ground where some of the most exciting cooking is happening.

To a great extent, one's mood will dictate what qualifies as the perfect French meal. While establishments like Ici and Auberge de Pommier offer the most refined of fare, neighbourhood bistros like Batifole and La Palette offer diners a butter-soaked experience that's tough to beat.

These are the best French restaurants in Toronto.

Note: This list was previously published in December 2009. Comments made up until December 1st, 2011 are in reference to the old list. We've purposely kept the archived comments here because we believe they (mostly) add value to this topic. If you don't want to have to wade through all of them, simply hit the "sort by newest first" link at the top of the thread.

Ici Bistro

Ici Bistro

With the battle for a liquor license a thing of the past, this intimate Harbord Bistro has got the critics gushing over Chef J.P. Challet's modern French fare, which manages to be both sophisticated and unpretentious at once. Dinner starts with a complimentary amuse-bouche and gets better from there. The croquettes are crispy bits of perfection, and the chicken supreme elevates poultry to new heights. But the real show stopper is the braised beef, which is the stuff that dreams are made of. More »

Batifole

Batifole

Batifole's menu may be reasonably priced, but not at the expense of well-executed dishes and intelligently sourced wines. Commonly thought to be the most authentic of Toronto's French restaurants, the unpretentious dining room takes a backseat to classic dishes like cassoulet and sautéed skate, which along with horse tartare are the main draw for Riverdale residents and other lovers of Gallic cuisine. More »

La Palette

La Palette

Once a staple in Kensington Market, La Palette seems right at home in its pitch-perfect bistro setting on Queen West. You won't find horse on the menu anymore, but along with French favourites like escargot and foie gras, the menu also features wild boar, bison and venison. An extensive selection of wine is eschewed in favour of a beer list that's big on both local and international choices. More »

Auberge du Pommier

Auberge du Pommier

Despite its location in an uptown corporate centre, the cottage-like interior still retains an undeniable French charm even after a 2007 renovation made the place a touch more formal. The pricey menu could be accused of conservatism, but it hardly seems to matter given that everything is so immaculately prepared. Case in point - the truffle soup might just be one of the best things I've ever tasted. The wine list is as showy as you'd expect. More »

Le Select

Le Select

While the dining room always feels a touch too polished for its feigned bistro identity, Le Select remains the go-to destination for many Toronto diners looking for classic French fare. And why not? Chef Albert Ponzo has all the usual suspects covered - steak frites, bouillabaisse, boudin noir, etc. - but presents them with an air of sophistication that justifies the not-so-bistro-like prices. Also noteworthy is the extensive (French-focused) wine list and the more authentic weekend brunch offerings. More »

Le Paradis

Le Paradis

An Annex staple, Le Paradis might not be the prettiest restaurant in the world, but it's every bit the neighbourhood bistro. While the kitchen produces competent takes on standard bistro dishes - think grilled calamari served over a bed of ratatouille, cassoulet, and flank steak with a shallot sauce - a wine list that features lots of well-priced Southern French reds is what keeps the crowds coming back. More »

Discussion

52 Comments

Mike B / December 9, 2009 at 10:18 am
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Really?
No Jacques Bistro Du Parc??
I am shocked and surprised....
mrblack / December 9, 2009 at 11:05 am
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La Palette is so so overrated!...
Elizabeth / December 9, 2009 at 11:21 am
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I know Le Paradis is a not the best food, but I still love it. And Auberge is to die for, if you can afford it!
Merde / December 9, 2009 at 11:55 am
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Tati blows.

On two visits I experienced bored indifferent service + tasted bland everything
Richie / December 9, 2009 at 04:17 pm
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Le Paradis has dropped off terribly in the past three years.

I think that Mogette Bistro has been overlooked also.
James / December 10, 2009 at 09:39 am
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Ah! You missed my favourite, Le Trou Normand. C'est magnifique!
Vic De Zen / December 10, 2009 at 10:15 am
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I've been to the Bistro 990. I was impressed with the food there. I'm not a fan of soup but I had to admit the french onion soup was pretty good.
Jane / December 14, 2009 at 09:34 pm
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Salut! Forgot le Papillon on Front Street....it's amazing and the service is excellent. Reminds me a bit of Balthazar in NYC!!
Jennifer / December 30, 2009 at 03:22 pm
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I agree. No Jacques Bistro? I don't think you can get more French Bistro without actually going to France!
Mel / April 27, 2010 at 04:43 pm
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After reading through all of the restaurants’ menus online, I am the most tempted by Batifole!!! It reminds me the most of what is typically considered to be French favourites. I must try!!!
moi aussi / February 2, 2011 at 02:35 pm
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Auberge du Pommier is on the list? It is one of the worst restaurants I've been to. The portions were very, very small and bland except the frog legs which had a strong refrigerator taste.
Ben / December 2, 2011 at 10:49 am
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Really. No Grace restuarant?
simba390 replying to a comment from moi aussi / December 2, 2011 at 10:55 am
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agreed.
Derek replying to a comment from Ben / December 2, 2011 at 10:55 am
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Grace is not a French restaurant.
Phil / December 2, 2011 at 10:56 am
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This list is just a joke and is missing so much french restaurant well better the one's listed.
No Didier on Yonge St and St Clair ? No Mogette Bistro on Mt Pleasant Road ? No Coquinne on Yonge St and Davisville ?
At least, this tell me a lot about the knowledge of people writing for blogto...
If you don't know your topic, stop trying to make a list, only write about what you know...
Jen / December 2, 2011 at 11:10 am
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If you like your food insanely salty def recommend batifole. 'so salty you can hardly taste the food!'
Rupert / December 2, 2011 at 11:27 am
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Bistro 990? Really? That place is horrible.
Moi / December 2, 2011 at 11:33 am
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Le Select........I refuse to dine at a place where both Owners steal tips from the staff..been going on for years!
Andrea / December 2, 2011 at 11:46 am
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Coquine at Yonge & Davisville is pretty darn great!
Derek replying to a comment from Phil / December 2, 2011 at 01:07 pm
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It's worth noting (for your benefit) that two of the three places you mention were on the old list: Didier and Coquine. For whatever reason, they did not make the cut this time around. And, yes, this list was derived from a reader voting process.
A.P / December 2, 2011 at 01:48 pm
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Le Canard Mort in Leslieville
mike in parkdale / December 2, 2011 at 01:59 pm
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but which place has the best cassoulet? That's my entire judging criteria.
dead duck replying to a comment from A.P / December 2, 2011 at 02:22 pm
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lol, really? not really right? if that place is still open in the spring i will be amazed
GoodTimes replying to a comment from Moi / December 2, 2011 at 02:24 pm
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Find me a restaurant in Toronto that doesn't! I want to work there :)
zefred / December 2, 2011 at 02:48 pm
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Seems to me you also have forgotten "Le Merlot" at Royal York Station on Bloor St West. One of the best and most affordable French Brasseries in town.
Aydin / December 2, 2011 at 04:24 pm
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...a nice break from all the bitching...
Le Select is a really reasonably priced, nice restaurant. We often bring friends there for birthdays or other special occasions. I have a hard time ordering anything other than the Cassoulet, though the Chou Croute is also very good. And the Ile Fontaine for dessert is an amazing throwback to classic French cooking!
And the brunch is also very good - the steak and eggs is the best I've ever had.

...resume bitching...
Donald / December 2, 2011 at 05:41 pm
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Jules Bistro on Spadina? Always enjoyed my visits there.
Sean replying to a comment from James / December 2, 2011 at 06:29 pm
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I agree, Le Trou Normand should head this list. Its been around since the early 70's and I have always loved going there.
incassouletwetrust replying to a comment from mike in parkdale / December 3, 2011 at 04:25 pm
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I am from Toulouse, and no, you will not find a good cassoulet in Toronto. I would advise you to do it yourself (actually, no one in france would order a cassoulet in a restaurant except tourists, this is a home dish).
You can actually find all the ingredients quite easily (avoid pusetaris or st lawrence market for the duck legs and saucisse), prefer gasparro on bloor, cheaper.
Generally, french restaurant in toronto are overpriced, what is good in french cuisine, is to do it yourself :)
mike in parkdale replying to a comment from incassouletwetrust / December 4, 2011 at 08:49 am
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thanks for the tip! Last November I was in that region (Carcassonne to be specific) and every restaurant seemed to boast that their cassoulet was a house specialty. I was never disappointed. -- A friend of mine from Belgium brought me back a cassoulet in a can, and assured me it was the best canned cassoulet out there. It wasn't bad, but next time I'll make it myself.
Chino / December 4, 2011 at 01:30 pm
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no La Societe??
Le Savoir Vivre / December 5, 2011 at 12:33 am
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No Loire, no Le Kensington Bistro, no Didier, no Simple Bistro, no Mogette, no La Societe, no Tati......how can you overlook all of these?..
Evan / December 5, 2011 at 10:49 am
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Le Paradis is defiantly not one of the best french restaurants in Toronto I wouldn't even put it in the top 100
traitement impuissance masculine / December 5, 2011 at 08:41 pm
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Thank you for what you have. This is the best post I've read
alex / December 27, 2011 at 02:39 pm
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what about veloute bistro in the beaches
cathy / February 21, 2012 at 02:42 pm
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Fare Bistro in Leslieville. Best steak frites in town.

Jacques on the Park in Yorkville. Huge oversight.

Who's writing this stuff anyway?
K-eh la / February 21, 2012 at 03:19 pm
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Batifole, hands down is the bomb
Jeanette / February 29, 2012 at 03:22 pm
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Coquine on Yonge is not French. It is a good resto du quartier, very animated, nice details and menu, but not French.
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Diana Lo / May 21, 2012 at 03:26 pm
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I had eaten at Pastis over the weekend for my boyfriends 30th birthday. We were extremely dissatisfied with the food.
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COSPLAY / September 26, 2012 at 10:38 pm
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No Loire, no Le Kensington Bistro, no Didier, no Simple Bistro, no Mogette, no La Societe, no Tati......how can you overlook all of these?..
rus-ste replying to a comment from incassouletwetrust / October 14, 2012 at 03:37 pm
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At a Basque resto in Paris the friendly French family at the next table recommended that my wife and I have ... the cassoulet.
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Jade / November 23, 2013 at 02:05 am
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"Jacques Bistro du Parc" on Cumberland St. in Yorkville is for me the most authentic french cuisine in Toronto, though I haven't tried a lot of the places on the list.

But coming from Belgium and being half French as well, it feels good going there when I'm missing some good French food. It's held by a couple from France, the husband in the kitchen and the wife with other waiters serving.
It's pricey is you take full service, but definitely worth going.
I recommend as desert: "Ile flottante" (= floating island). It's amazing.
Their salads are not that special.
As first dish I recommend the mussels.
Their main dishes change all the time.
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