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 Auberge de Pommier and Ici Bistro offer the most refined of fare, neighbourhood bistros like Batifole and La Palette offer diners a butter-soaked experience that's tough to beat. Oh, and do make sure to order some wine: it wouldn't be a French meal without it.
These are the best French restaurants in Toronto.
Photo from 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 and expensive as you'd expect. More »
Now open in the Windsor Arms Hotel (which nets the restaurant 15 extra seats), Chef J.P. Challet's Ici Bistro 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, but the real show stopper is the braised beef, which is the stuff that dreams are made of. The tightly curated wine list favours smaller producers and is made up of exclusively Ontario and French wineries. More »
Once a staple in Kensington Market, La Palette seems right at home in its pitch-perfect bistro setting on Queen West. Horse tartare is once again a fixture on the menu, along with French favourites like escargot and foie gras. The menu also occasionally features wild boar, bison and venison as it's available from suppliers. An extensive selection of wine is eschewed in favour of a beer list that's big on both local and international choices. 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 east side residents and lovers of Gallic cuisine. More »
This Leaside bistro attracts locals out for moules frites, escargot, duck confit and Beef Bourguignon, amongst other French Classics. The setting is intimate (35 seats), the servers know their wine, and the owners understand how craft a prototypical French dining experience. If there's a criticism to be made here, it's that the restaurant can seem slightly dated in its plating and decor. Bonus points are, however, awarded for the brunch options. 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 »
The minimalist exterior and clean decor hint at the refined cuisine on offer at this Harbord staple. The chef and sommelier team of Jean-Charles Dupoire and Sylvain Brissonnet keep the dining experience casual, but strive for perfection when it comes to pairing the food and wine. Special emphasis is placed on the cuisine of the eponymous Loire Valley, where both grew up. The Cornish Hen for two (which takes 40 minutes) is outstanding. Make sure to order some oysters while you wait. 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 »
Short of booking a flight to Paris, Le Neuf Cafe might be your best bet for a temporary French escape. Overlooking Clarence Park near Spadina and Wellington, the small but bright room functions as a cafe by day before offering a full dinner menu at 6pm. The food is affordable if slightly predictable, but to be honest, that's the case for most authentic French bistros. The food is supposed to unfussy, which is precisely what you get here. More »
This minimalist bistro on Spadina just north of Richmond attracts a big lunch and early evening crowd with its cheap and cheery southern French cuisine. The interior is sparse but inviting when full. Given the focus on the South of France, seafood is an unsurprising specialty (the scallops are excellent), while the addition of a side of ratatouille to other dishes keeps the plates colourful and bright. More »
Charles Khabouth's Yorkville bistro isn't Balthazar north (it's too nice for that), but the room has a grandeur when it's bustling and full that's unmatched in the city. The food can be a bit up and down (I'm not sure that they've ever nailed my steak order at medium rare) and is price in accordance with the restaurant's location, but the ambience is top notch, even on the patio which looks out onto the so-called Mink Mile. The raw bar and cocktail menu are worthy of praise, and should be a part of a dining experience here. More »
Jacques Bistro du Parc is one of Yorkville's hidden gems. In operation since 1978, the restaurant has a loyal following who don't mind that the space has become a little bit date. When the food is good, things like tired decor sometimes add to a restaurant's charm. The omelettes (served all day) are phenomenal, while dishes like the veal with mushrooms burst with Madeira-spiked flavour. Prices are expectedly high, but the service is attentive enough to make one feel special. More »