The Best French Restaurants in Toronto
The 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.
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'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 »
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 »
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 »
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 »
The small room fills up early, and the ensuing chatter sets the perfect tone at this Harbord bistro, which boasts a great little rooftop patio during the warmer months. This is not the place to be concerned about your butter consumption, as most dishes reveal a fearless doling out of this crucial ingredient, but you'll leave feeling thoroughly nourished. A $25 three course prix fix menu offers great value Sunday through Thursday. Ample by-the-glass options, keeps wine prices in check. More »
Pastis has been Rosedale's it-spot for French dining for as long as I can remember. Although it attracts an older crowd, the room is lively and upbeat in the way that a bistro should be. There are few surprises on the menu, but food and service of this quality are generally trend-resistant, so that's anything but a knock. The wine list could be longer (and cheaper), but it's well chosen for the target clientele. More »
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 »