The charming 29-seat bistro, owned by a retired schoolteacher named Gino Muia, is located midway along the elegant stretch of posh restaurants, boutiques and antique shops on Mount Pleasant between Eglinton and Davisville.
While Muia schmoozes diners in the front of the house, the kitchen is run by his son and chef Daniel, who worked with Didier Leroy at the The Fifth, as well as Celestin, Jamie Kennedy and Lumiere in Vancouver. The co-chef is Daniel's friend and equally accomplished Alsatian Philippe Couerdassier of Batifole and Celestin.
Perusing the menu, my dinner companion and I are drawn to the ultimate cold weather comfort food - French onion soup. Mogette's Soupe a l'Onion Granitee ($14), topped with a reserve Jura Flora Comte cheese, is sublime with its deep flavor and velvety texture. It's worth the price, but not exactly a light start to a meal that promises to keep delivering on gluttonous French favorites.
Next up, the Dungeness Crab Cakes ($12). There's something about crab, like a goat cheese car crash for me -- whenever I see it on a menu I can't look away. But perhaps I should have reconsidered for something else, like the Escargots au Brie that sounded so sinful. The crab cakes, done with Yukon gold potatoes, are creamy smooth and finely crusted and served with tossed greens, corn and roasted pepper relish and saffron aïoli. The dish gets top marks for presentation but I find the flavor is too delicate and needs more of a kick. Or maybe all it needs is more salt and seasoning.
For mains, we indulge in the *Noisettes of Lamb with Merguez Sausage ($25), featuring grilled lamb medallions served with a ragout of mogette beans, rapini and garlic confit sauce. The lamb, although unevenly cooked, is rich and moist. The mogette beans, the small white dried French variety the restaurant is named after, are slightly soft and cooked to perfection while the North African spicy Merguez sausage is almost as good as my Moroccan mother makes.
Our second choice of entree is the Rainbow Trout Provencal ($24), pan-seared with ratatouille, gaufrette potatoes , green beans a black olive ravigote. The trout is beautifully crisp on top and succulently plump everywhere else, while the accompaniments offer a light and lovely balance to the end of our meal. Dessert will have to wait till next time.