Carens Rosedale started as a companion location to Carens Wine and Cheese in Yorkville but a few months after opening, owner Karen Walters decided to focus solely on this Rosedale spot and closed the longstanding original.
This version of Carens has some similarities to its former counterpart, but it also has its own personality. While Yorkville's had a gem of a back patio (here there's a small front patio), the highlights for Rosedale's are the interiors.
Inside, there's a front room complete with elegant marble bar and tables, chic banquettes and a piano whose ivories are tickled in the evenings (there's live music here almost every night). The back dining room features both a skylight and a fireplace, creating a lovely ambiance whether the sun's up or down.
Wine and cheese are still the main draws here, with an extensive wine list that has a French focus but also features a variety of other regions, and a shorter list of cheeses that do the same. For a more substantial meal, lunch, dinner and weekend brunch menus mostly offer classic French bistro fare.
We start with the French onion soup ($12), which is made with a rich broth whose deep flavour has been extracted from roasted bones, slowly simmered the day before. Sweet caramelized onions and gooey cheese on soup-soaked bread make this an irresistible starter.
The bouillabaisse ($28), or fish stew, contains an enticing treasure trove of seafood that can vary, depending on what's fresh that day. Ours has a mix of mussels, shrimp, scallops, tuna and Arctic char in a concentrated seafood stock that I wish there was a bit more of. It's served with a dollop of rouille on a slice of toasted French bread.
Steak frites ($32) is a no-brainer French staple, and here it comes in the form of a sizable, seared 10oz striploin with a thick disc of herb butter on it, all over top a bed of hand-cut frites made from Yukon Gold potatoes accompanied by aioli. The steak is a perfect medium-rare and a pleasure to eat.
A signature dish carried over from the Yorkville Carens is the customer-fave mac and cheese ($18), to which you can choose to add prosciutto or chorizo (+$6), or even lobster (+$14).
Instead of macaroni, penne is the pasta medium of choice used to deliver the deliciously satisfying, slightly spicy sauce that contains a creamy five-cheese blend of Sao Miguel from the Azores, emmental, cheddar, Swiss and Parmigiano-Reggiano. Although pricey, this mac definitely qualifies as one of the best in the city.
Regulars of the Yorkville location might miss its sweet patio, but they'll find a lot to like here too - as should the locals in this area.
Photos by Hector Vasquez.