Bernhardt's is a rustic French bistro specializing in rotisserie birds and plates of locally-sourced meats and veggies.
Taking over the Dovercourt digs that used to be Julie's Cuban, Bernhardt's fulfills the need for a date night spot that lives up to the quaintness of the 25-year staple that preceded it, patio included.
Owned by Zach Kolomeir of Dreyfus, this restaurant feels like the more laid-back neighbourhood counterpart.
Chef Liam Donato, formerly of Bacchanal, Noce, and Gusto 501, has populated the chalkboard menu with bric-a-brac plates of ingredients from local providers like Tamarack Farms or Matty Matheson's Blue Goose Farm.
An order of kolhrabi ($13) from Aldergrove Farm is a brown buttery dish with capers and lemon, subbing out the Grenoblois recipe's typical meat component with chunky cooked kohlrabi.
The Jambon de Taverne is the house rotisserie ham from Woodward Meats. The brined cut — the same as capicola — sits on mushrooms, baby artichokes, fennel, and a delicious seasoning of turmeric with oil.
The pièce de résistance here is obviously the White Rock chicken from Harriston, Ontario, which you can get halved ($28) or whole ($45).
It's Swiss Chalet, but fancier. Whole birds are brined, chopped and splayed, plated more like Chinese free-range than your typical rotisserie. The chicken is served with dill pickles and, like any good chicken from a spit, arrives with a pair of gravy boats.
Donato says it's a Quebecois-style sauce, a sort of homage to St. Hubert's famous poutine gravy, made with chicken stock, thyme and bay leaves. Dunk your white meat in or just drizzle it all over the plate.
The meat is tender and juicy. The plate's also topped off with two buns and some coleslaw. I recommend the whole bird to split between two.
The triple-cooked fries are the finisher to the rotisserie trifecta of bird and gravy.
Ending off the meal is an equally impressive dessert: a sunflower and pear sorbet sundae, with candied sunflowers.
There's a rotating wine list here, mostly comprised of organic and low-intervention wines from smaller producers.
Otherwise, classics like margaritas (sans the salt on the rim) are also available.