Flavour of the Week: Bacchanal
Classic French fare gets a modern update at this elegant bistro off Queen West
What's the vibe
Heavyweights from Le Select, Campagnolo and Alo came together in this iteration of Toronto's latest food and drink trend: the modern French bistro. Luckily, its execution reminds us why we're still infatuated with this cuisine. In Bacchanal, deep hues, banquet seating and plenty of brass accents (including pretty brass-tone cutlery) create an updated, elegant dining atmosphere. We'd feel equally comfortable hosting a client dinner here as we would celebrating a romantic occasion.
We appreciated the attention to detail in this restaurant, from the custom toile wallpaper designed by a local artist (it's a fun nod to the city with its Toronto motifs) to the racy illustrations that surprises guests visiting the bathroom. They're both reminders that ambiance makes a difference in our dining experiences.
What to drink
With a long history as a sommelier, wine educator and beverage director, Bacchanal's general manager Lachlan Dennis is the man to consult for your beverage selections. Bacchanal boasts an impressive list of consignment wines (the vast majority from France, naturally) but Dennis's descriptions make the somewhat intimidating world of wine a little more approachable. The vin au verre (wine by the glass) program is a good introduction to Bacchanal's extensive cellar before you progress to the Carte Blanche blind tasting and wine pairing menu. There are also plans to host themed winemaker dinners with their suppliers down the road.
While we didn't get a chance to sample the cocktail menu during this visit, including their buzzed-about Absinthe program, it's all the more incentive to return soon.
What to eatView on Instagram
Those new to French cuisine (or if they're like us, those who haven't brushed up on their français since Grade 9) may need a bit of assistance navigating the food menu but thankfully their waitstaff is helpful in this regard. We began our meal with a few shared appetizers (they're split into cold and warm selections) including delicately tender leeks vinaigrette topped with a creamy tarragon sauce. No French bistro is complete without steak au frites on their menu and Bacchanal's doesn't disappoint, cooked to a textbook medium rare and topped with a flavourful patty of herb-infused café de Paris butter.
You won't do a meal in this restaurant justice without dessert. The Paris-Brest – choux pastry with pralined hazelnuts and a cream filling – is a magical clash of tastes and textures. There's sweetness with a hint of savoury salt from the nuts and both crunchy and creamy richness in each bite.
Dinner and drinks for two: About $150
60 Sudbury St., 416-586-1188, bacchanal.ca