My favourite thing about living in Toronto is the multiculturalism. By welcoming individuals from a wide-variety of backgrounds, our city becomes a more vibrant, interesting and delicious place to live. In my Global Food in Toronto Series I’m travelling the globe by eating one local meal from every country in the world without leaving Toronto. This time I’m tasting French food in Toronto.
French Food in Toronto
Restaurant: Jules Bistro
Companion: My mum, Jennifer.
Menu: Chèvre Salad. Spicy Tiger Shrimp. Steak Frites. Chocolate mousse.
My love of France is a secret to none who knows me. My trips to France have taken me from Normandy to Nice, from Bordeaux to Champagne, from La Rochelle to La Havre and I am enamoured by this enchanting country. I love the language, I love the landscape, I love the cities. Despite the notoriously bad attitudes of the French, I love people and their dedication to their country and culture. Among my favourite aspects of French culture are the long, slow meals. A regular Tuesday afternoon meal could easily consider of a starter, a main, a salad, a dessert and a cheese plate. All accompanied, without fail, by wine and savoured over the course several hours.
My brief visit to Jules Bistro in Toronto was not reflective of French culture, not because we didn’t enjoy the food, but because we were in a rush. My mum was in town for a visit and I had wanted to take her to a nice restaurant before our outing to see the Barber of Seville with the Canadian Opera Company. I’d heard positive reviews about Jules Bistro and the location was ideal, but due to unforeseen transit problems, we were running behind schedule.
For reasons that are unclear to me in hindsight, I decided to order the three course prix-fixed menu. It was an absolutely delicious choice, but not exactly a time sensitive one. In fact we ate so quickly my photos were sporadic and sadly mediocre.
My first course was a chèvre salad made of mixed greens, tomatoes and a light oil & vinegar dressing, served with toasted goat cheese on crusty bread. As a main I chose the steak frites which I tried to order cooked to medium, but the waiter said ‘no, medium rare would be better’. Ha! I loved that. Until that moment our service had been much to attentive and accommodating to be reminiscent of French service.
My steak was supremely well seasoned and, yes, perfectly cooked. The fries were crispy, salty, and made much more interesting by the accompanying horseradish mayonnaise dip. Meanwhile, my mum had ordered the spicy tiger shrimp starter claiming she wasn’t very hungry. It was served with salad and bread making it a fair-sized meal. The roasted tomatoes and garlic, a highlight of the meal, exemplified rustic, simple, French cuisine. For dessert, we shared the mousse au chocolate which was light, sweet and a lovely finish to the meal.
Our evening of eating French food in Toronto may not have represented a truly authentic French experience. I didn’t try frogs legs, or escargot, or horse meat. We didn’t end with the cheese course and the salad incorrectly came at the start of the meal. The service was a little too friendly and understanding. But I was reminded of the many lovely meals I’ve shared in France and it fuelled my desire for another visit. Perhaps next time, I will sample more traditional French delicacies, but I will savour every bite and every moment, because that is really what makes a meal French.
Do you have any stories about eating in French restaurants in France or abroad?
Now It’s Your Turn! Next time you are dreaming a trip abroad, considering satisfying your craving with a an international meal. Eating food from around the world can serve as an exciting new experience at times when travel isn’t possible. When you bite into a sharp French cheese, a spicy Indian curry or a piece of salmon sushi, close your eyes and allow yourself to be transported to another land. Subscribe here to receive more stories in the Taste the World in Toronto series.