Thanks to our friends at Expedia.ca. this month I got to explore Toronto a little differently. Earlier in the month I shared a bird’s eye view of Toronto – a very different way to see the city – via helicopter! Today, I’m exploring some of my favourite places to find a taste of France in Toronto. As someone who lived in Paris, who spends a lot of time in France, who owns a holiday rental home in France and who writes about France every Friday right here, you’d think I’d have more info about my favourite places in Toronto to indulge in a French pastry or meal. Today’s post is hopefully the start of a series of occasional posts (because this list is most definitely not exhaustive) highlighting some places I like to go when I just can’t get to France but need my fix!
(a few of my) French favourites in Toronto
Nadège (various locations)
Nadège has always been my “go to” for their macarons…
The flagship store near Trinity Bellwoods park is clean, bright and airy – a modern space offering classic French sweet and savoury dishes. From salads and sandwiches to classic French pastries Nadège really does offer a wonderful slice of France.
I first discovered Delysées when I was on the hunt for a Galette des Rois last January. As well as finding an amazing galette, I also discovered a treasure trove of authentically French treats… Their éclairs are to-die-for – right up there with those from L’éclair de Génie in my humble opinion…
Paris-born pastry chef Fred Naggar has really succeeded in bringing a little French flair to King and Bathurst, and offers not just baked goods and pastries but also savoury items like sandwiches. The modern space is inviting and bright, somewhere to stop and stay awhile.
Inside First Canadian Place isn’t exactly where you’d expect to find a tiny piece of France so Maman, a café and bakery is a lovely surprise, tucked away in the building (they have a beautiful terrace too – an oasis in the urban jungle). This is the second location in North America, after SoHo, New York. Offering family-inspired recipes (savoury and sweet) from the South of France and North America, Maman features dishes created from high quality, local ingredients, and the menu changes daily.
Maman is open Monday through Friday for breakfast, lunch and “cinq-á-sept” (5-7pm, after work where savoury bites as well as cocktails and wine are served). With a choice of pastries and desserts, artisanal breads, salads, quiches, sandwiches and soups (for dine-in or takeaway), there’s something for everyone at Maman. And I can vouch for these delicious buttery breakfast pastries – they transported me right back to Paris.
“Brioche Dorée – isn’t that, like a chain?” I hear you asking…
Well yes it is and one I’ve been meaning to check out for a while now because I always wondered if they had pastries just like I could find in France. Founded in France in 1976 this IS a chain of stores which is now all over the world and it is excellent. They have all the breakfast pastries you would expect in a French bakery, as well as lunch items like sandwiches and quiche, and coffee. Here you see a mini chocolate twist and a mini pain au chocolat. The chocolate twist is what I know from France as a “pain suisse au chocolat” (custard and chocolate wrapped in croissant pastry) and was delectable. One bite took me back to Sunday mornings in Paris, when I would treat myself to one of these while I waited for my laundry to finish. The pain au chocolat was also excellent. Plus, I love the mini sizes!
Colette Grand Café
Described as “modern French fare in an elegant space”, Colette Grand Café is a great choice for a coffee and pastry in the morning or through the day or a fancier Saturday brunch when you want something a little different from the usual fare.
With a beautiful patio, Colette is a great choice for the warmer weather but the main room is so bright and welcoming, it’s also a somewhere to keep in mind for the dark days of winter (all that natural light and fresh, French fare? What’s not to love?).
This is totally the type of place I love, offering traditional fare (with a twist) without any of the fuss many people associate with “French food”. At Le Baratin, classically trained French Chef Jean Regis Raynaud serves French bistro fare, operating operates as a café during the day, and an accessible bistro by night. The simple menu offers in-house pâté, market fresh fish of the day and other classics like Steak frites, Conft de Canard and Ratatouille with desserts like Mousse au Chocolat, Tarte Tatin and Crème Caramel. The wine list features mainly French selections but also wines from Spain, Europe, and Ontario.
This little gem on Spadina at Richmond is another example of fine French food in a fuss-free setting. Jules has been around for years and doesn’t disappoint.
The tiny room can get a little noisy but in a way it’s reminiscent of a classic French bistro, all bustle and clinking glasses and cutlery rattling. They do a mean steak-frites as well as a very reasonable fixed-price menu.
Ok so I’ll admit that the other day I was stuck home recipe testing and had a real craving for a “Sandwich Parisien” (basically ham and cheese in a baguette but when they are done well, they are true masterpieces!) and I started looking at all my food delivery apps to see if this might be a possibility. Lo and behold, Chabichou came through with the goods (oh and a quiche and a fruit tart to boot!)
Chabichou is a tiny storefront which sells pastries, bread, cheeses, charcuterie, ready-to-eat meals and desserts but now they deliver through Foodora. 20 minutes after ordering my lunch (and dinner) arrived via bicycle. And in pretty good shape – even the quiche! More dangerous knowledge, that this service exists 😉 French food on demand? Who could say no?
Do you know Toronto? What are some of your favourite French0inspired places?
Disclosure: Thanks to my friends at Expedia.ca for covering my stay at One King West on this trip as part of the Big World Explorer programme. I have not received further compensation and everything is written based on my personal experience on this trip. None of these meals were comped, in fact none of the restaurants was aware I might be writing about them. All opinions are completely my own.