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Best of Toronto

The Best French Restaurants in Toronto

Posted by Derek Flack / May 30, 2014

best french restaurants 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 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.

See also:

The best steak frites in Toronto
The best baguette in Toronto
The best crepes in Toronto
The best croissant in Toronto

Photo from Auberge Du Pommier

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 and expensive as you'd expect. More »

Ici Bistro

Ici Bistro

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 »

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. 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

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 east side residents and lovers of Gallic cuisine. More »

L'Avenue Bistro

L'Avenue Bistro

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 »

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 »

Loire

Loire

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 »

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 Neuf Cafe

Le Neuf Cafe

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 »

Jules Bistro

Jules Bistro

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 »

La Societe

La Societe

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

Jacques Bistro du Parc

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 »

Discussion

23 Comments

Chris / May 30, 2014 at 03:01 pm
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Love Le Select. Super reasonable prices (you can order a full meal for under 20), great patio, and food is awesome. Glad to see it made the list! P.s. they do a pretty damn good Manhattan too.
TJ / May 30, 2014 at 03:15 pm
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Le Paradise and Le Neuf are probably the best combination of value, quality, authenticity, and quantity on that list. Le Select is probably 3rd. Good list.
Joe / May 30, 2014 at 03:17 pm
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Where is Cora's? And Chris under 20! What about under 10? You are rich
Q / May 30, 2014 at 03:46 pm
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How about Celestin?
Joe replying to a comment from Q / May 30, 2014 at 03:48 pm
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How about no.
Gotbecks / May 30, 2014 at 03:53 pm
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If you want to venture out of Toronto for a great French restaurant, Chez Michel in Creemore is second to none!
Minni / May 30, 2014 at 04:57 pm
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Le Neuf is so wonderful! They have terrific pear tarts there. Auberge du Pommier is pretty good, quite pricy though. They have a number of items that seem like French comfort food. Auberge also has free parking access in the park next door, so it is really convenient.
oh / May 30, 2014 at 04:59 pm
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Missing Celestin makes this list illegitimate.
Marc / May 30, 2014 at 06:39 pm
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Loire, the only restaurant I was ever asked : "how long will you be?". That was in October 2011 and I still haven't forgotten.
richard / May 30, 2014 at 10:11 pm
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This list is pathetic........

all revues are so old,...

terrible article ......
Rachelle Gill / May 31, 2014 at 05:44 am
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What about Le Papillon On The Park? I hear this place has amazing crepes. Uh...wait...i just googled this place. WTF? Papillon abuses their immigrant staff? Holy Mackeral. Thers no effin way my kids are eating in a french resto owned by racists.
Marc replying to a comment from Cheese Eating Surrender Monkies / May 31, 2014 at 07:50 am
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Dunkirk. Look it up.
Liam / May 31, 2014 at 08:27 am
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First of all, La Societe should be number one. The new chef there (formerly head at Origin) re-did the cocktail (bar top) menu and it's spectacular (Foie Gras hot dog? Crab leg tempura ?Yes please) Le Select is the poor man's La Societe. Societe's also has the best looking hostesses, hands down (think blonde Charlie's angels) Le Neuf is a charming quaint spot but goddamn if you get the older bald man hosting at the front he's a huge asshole which is enough to keep me away from there. Ici Bistro is amazing and deserving of the number one spot here, although wait to go there as their recent move to the Windsor Arms is not yet representative of the head chef's skill or talent.
Come again? / May 31, 2014 at 11:35 am
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Joe, do you actually consider Cora to be a "French restaurant"?
It is about as "French" as Fran's. Just because something comes from Montreal does not make it "French".
Mystery / May 31, 2014 at 12:37 pm
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Sorry... La Société should not be on this list... If the writer had actually been to Balthazar they would know how much better the food is not to mention the service. BTW that false lemony taste of their béarnaise is because its powdered...
evan / June 3, 2014 at 08:05 pm
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Great to see L'Avenue on the list. Been a few times and it's really fantastic.
Antoine / June 4, 2014 at 11:55 am
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La Palette is #3? Really???
Well, I really do love this restaurant but it shouldn't even be on this list. The atmosphere looks like French, indeed, but the food is definitely not (or maybe French-American if you want).
Once again, La Palette is one of my favorite address in Toronto... but I wouldn't recommend it as a true French restaurant. There are plenty of other nice and true French restaurants that should be on the list, like Mogette Bistro (they serve a delicious cassoulet) or the famous Célestin (the only place to serve boudin blanc) for example.
Oh, I'm French by the way :)
frank / June 4, 2014 at 10:34 pm
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i am really surprise i don't see veloute bistro here
you guys really must try it
Jun / June 6, 2014 at 09:15 am
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I love french food. But the price for me maybe is too high.
The Bespokeman / June 9, 2014 at 09:02 pm
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Great choices! But, hands down I enjoy AdP! They really are first rate French cuisine. Impeccable service and decor. But, the red wine infused Bloody Ceasar is my all time fav. Along, with the French Press coffee, a great finish to a wonderfull meal.
bobo / June 15, 2014 at 12:31 pm
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Scaramouche! Nothing compares.
Kris replying to a comment from evan / June 20, 2014 at 02:43 pm
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I've been too!

Its fantastic and their head chef is always coming up with new spins on french classics. Simple, amazing french food at its finest.
TD replying to a comment from oh / July 26, 2014 at 08:44 am
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Agreed! That restaurant is excellent!

Is this list one of those lists that to restaurants pay to have their name on, I've notice many of these kins of lists are suspect in that respect.

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