Sunday, March 20, 2011

LE ROSSIGNOL BISTRO...A new Leslieville gem?

OK so nobody loves supporting their local neighbourhood restaurants more than me. I live in Leslieville and believe we have some some of the best restaurants in the city here. Call me biased but I truly believe it's only going to get better. So of course I want to try all these places out and spread the word to all of you in order to get you guys over in this beautiful (and I think the best) neighbourhood of Toronto..So I thought I would try the relatively new Rossignol bistro on Queen east near Broadview. I work right near there so I have passed by this place many times. It took over the space of Pop bistro just a few months ago. When Pop was around, I was never too interested in trying it out as I felt it looked a little, how can i say, blaaaah. There just didn't seem to be any ambiance and the space was extremely small. But most of all, the menu didn't speak to me much. I also thought it seemed a little expensive for the type of restaurant and pretty basic choices. Albeit the new Rossignol hasn't changed much of the interior (still just plain white walls in a long and narrow space), the feel of it seemed more inviting, not to mention the menu looked a lot more interesting and moderately priced..

I don't usually go for pasta dishes at french restaurants but everytime I had walked by the place and stopped to glance at the menu I was super intrigued and by their housemade pasta dish. Described as escargot, mixed mushrooms and truffle tomato sauce, the combination of these ingredients which I love individually but have never had together, made me super intrigued at the possibilities of this marriage of flavours.  I'm still not  sure if the actual noodles are housemade or if they are just referring to the dish as a whole but either way, as undecisive as I am usually in restaurants there was no doubt as to what I was getting when I went there for supper with a friend last week.

 Neither of us were very hungry so we both just got a main, although gotta admit it was a tough decision since they had a frisee salad on the menu as an apetizer (poached egg in mixed greens with bacon and dijon dressing), one of my all-time favorite french salads. But I figured this particular pasta dish seemed like something I wouldn't be able to get anywhere else so I was ok with my 1 course meal for the night. My friend opted for the steak-frites. This was a nice thick piece of filet mignon made with  porcini jus and lemon aioli. Cooked perfectly to her liking, she thought it was one of the tastiest steaks she had had in a while. Her matchstick skinny fries were signature french and served in abundance.

filet mignon et frites....mmmm frites..

As for my pasta,  I think I may have built up my expectations a little too high, imagining all the great flavours that I know and love from escargots, mushrooms, and especially truffle would jump out in this perfect explosion of flavour. In the end what I got was a nicely presented bowl of perfectly al-dente linguini in marinara sauce (no sign of truffle flavour). The small pieces of snails an mushrooms mixed in were plentiful but I honestly had trouble distinguishing one from the other as they were the same size and colour. Perhaps this may say something about the lack of flavour..hmmm. It was perfectly fine, but can't say i ever distinctly tasted any of the ingredients, which for me, make up a superior dish. The portion was also a little small to my liking, especially for the price. From the picture below you can see the fresh parmesan on top actually covers most of the pasta itself. If i'd known, I totally wouldv'e gotten the frisee salad to start. Needless to say I ended up stealing quite a few of my friend's fries when I was done and she was still working on her steak...which I can't complain about cuz their were super tasty!

housemade de frites s'il vous plait 

I had a nice glass of Jamelles sauvignon blanc, which I was I was very happily surprised to find on the menu. This particular wine has always been one of my favorite innexpensive go-to wines in Montreal and I was actually disapointed to find out they don't carry it here at the LCBO. The wine list itself is pretty limited and mostly french, to be expected. But there are quite a few choices by the glass.  And best of all their bottles are priced for all budgets - one thing I have found is often not the case in Toronto, where restaurants frequently boast overpriced wine lists in comparison to the pricepoint of their food.

The service was very friendly, however quite slow, especially considering the place was practically empty and we each only ordered a single course. Perhaps they were spending all their time back there hand making each of my noodles..

As for the ambiance, it is indeed a little too quiet and bland to my liking. Saying that, I am someone who likes going to a restaurant that is going to take me away from the everyday, or the feel i could get sitting at home making my own meal. I like action, good lighting and originality. This place is very unassuming, the lighting is way too dim, and the long  narrow layout makes it feel a little confined;  perhaps more suited to a quiet evening for a couple who wants an affordable and straight forward french meal.

686 Queen Street East, Toronto | 416.461.9663