To a great extent, one's mood will dictate what qualifies as the perfect French meal. While establishments like Ici and Auberge de Pommier offer the most refined of fare, neighbourhood bistros like Batifole and La Palette offer diners a butter-soaked experience that's tough to beat.
These are the best French restaurants in Toronto.
1. Ici BistroWith the battle for a liquor license a thing of the past, this intimate Harbord Bistro has got the critics gushing over Chef J.P. Challet's modern French fare, which manages to be both sophisticated and unpretentious at once. Dinner starts with a complimentary amuse-bouche and gets better from there. The croquettes are crispy bits of perfection, and the chicken supreme elevates poultry to new heights. But the real show stopper is the braised beef, which is the stuff that dreams are made of.
2. Batifole RestaurantBatifole's menu may be reasonably priced, but not at the expense of well-executed dishes and intelligently sourced wines. Commonly thought to be the most authentic of Toronto's French restaurants, the unpretentious dining room takes a backseat to classic dishes like cassoulet and sautéed skate, which along with horse tartare are the main draw for Riverdale residents and other lovers of Gallic cuisine.
3. La Palette - Queen WestOnce a staple in Kensington Market, La Palette seems right at home in its pitch-perfect bistro setting on Queen West. You won't find horse on the menu anymore, but along with French favourites like escargot and foie gras, the menu also features wild boar, bison and venison. An extensive selection of wine is eschewed in favour of a beer list that's big on both local and international choices.
4. Auberge du PommierDespite its location in an uptown corporate centre, the cottage-like interior still retains an undeniable French charm even after a 2007 renovation made the place a touch more formal. The pricey menu could be accused of conservatism, but it hardly seems to matter given that everything is so immaculately prepared. Case in point - the truffle soup might just be one of the best things I've ever tasted. The wine list is as showy as you'd expect.
5. Le Select BistroWhile the dining room always feels a touch too polished for its feigned bistro identity, Le Select remains the go-to destination for many Toronto diners looking for classic French fare. And why not? Chef Albert Ponzo has all the usual suspects covered - steak frites, bouillabaisse, boudin noir, etc. - but presents them with an air of sophistication that justifies the not-so-bistro-like prices. Also noteworthy is the extensive (French-focused) wine list and the more authentic weekend brunch offerings.