After a two-month-long renovation, Biff's Bistro on Front Street finally reopened its doors in April. When the modern French bistro encountered a burst pipe earlier this year, the restaurant took the opportunity to temporarily close up shop to revamp itself. How so? Think new specials, new interior, new website, and even new social media handles (since we're at it, it's @BiffsBistro on Twitter/Instagram and Biff's Bistro on Facebook).
I realized my first visit ever to Biff's Bistro was a long time ago, an embarrassingly long time ago. After checking my trusty "Dining Out" page, I discovered my Biff's blog post from August 2010 when "Tweetups" were still at thing. That's six years ago, guys. This is precisely why I feel ancient in the food blogging world sometimes.
Sorry, I digress. I can't say I noticed too much of a difference in decor but then this is solely based on my very vague memory of the room from six years ago. What I do know for sure is that I love the casual French bistro vibe and furnishings at Biff's.
The bar has noticeably changed for sure. It is a lot more open and spacious now compared to before.
Because of the warmer weather, all I want is rosé nowadays. So, instead of my usual cocktail I ordered myself a glass of sparkling rosé to start. My friend also had a lighter cocktail than usual. I guess we both wanted to start with something light and refreshing :)
BIFF’S 75 ($14)
Beefeater gin, Crème Yvette, Prosecco
SPARKLING ROSE ($11)
2014 Hinterland 'Borealis' Rose, PEC, ON
Our server, Al, sold us on getting fresh Malpeques. It wasn't hard 'cause I never say "no" to raw oysters.
1/2 DOZEN MALPEQUES
Chef Amanda Ray went through the menu and recommended a few dishes for us to try. We also had our eye on a couple of things so we ordered as many plates as we think we could handle, which was many:
LES HORS D’OEUVRES
STEAK TARTARE ($16)
Truffle porcini mayo, pickled mushrooms, spiced lentils, ketchup chips, egg yolk, gaufrettes
When I see steak tartare on the menu I have to order it, this is because I'm constantly searching for a traditional tartare with a rough chopped texture, a bit of chew, and with meat that's tender yet not mushy. This tartare delivers on all those fronts. It also has a delicate flavour profile with a good balance of acidic, sweet-sour, and spicy garnishes. The dollops of creamy truffle porcini mayo was a really nice complement.
ESCARGOTS & ‘NDUJA ($15)
Basil Parisienne gnocchi, pork broth, blistered tomato, escarole, Bayonne chip
It is super refreshing to see escargots *not* served drenched in garlic and butter. I mean, those are good too but it gets tiring. These escargots are accompanied by a light broth, sweet blistered tomatoes, and a few escaroles leaves. This was so refreshing to eat because the whole plate wasn't overpowered by any one ingredient. Having said that, I do wish there was a little bit more 'nduja.
POUR LA TABLE
GINGER-PICKLED SHRIMP COCKTAIL ($13)
Celery & carrot slaw, Anaheim peppers, lime & ginger cocktail sauce
This was probably my least favourite app. Nothing was wrong with it but it just didn't stand out like the others. I don't know, maybe I was also secretly hoping that the shrimps would be served in a shrimp cocktail glass on a bed of ice or something haha :p
FROGS’ LEGS ($13)
Peanuts, tamarind, ginger
Beautiful dish. Look at those vibrant colours. Taste wise, I fell in love with the Vietnamese flavours after the first bite. The frogs' legs were sweet with a bit of tart, absolutely appetizing, and the crunch from the peanuts was a fantastic touch (FYI - Yes, I do think frogs' legs taste like chicken, just a bit more lean with less meat).
In no time my friend and I both moved onto more substantial, a.k.a boozy, cocktails:
BARREL-AGED NEGRONI ($15)
Beefeater gin, Campari, sweet vermouth
OLD FASHIONED ($15)
Bulleit bourbon, gomme syrup, Angostura bitters
BEEF TENDERLOIN ($39)
Duchess potatoes, wild mushrooms, nettle emulsion, foie gras mousse, red wine jus
The component that stole the show for me here was actually the duchess potatoes, which I failed to capture in this photo, unfortunately. The beef tenderloin was fantastic, and so were the wild mushrooms and foie gras mousse, but the golden duchess potatoes, presented in a decorative swirl, was just so pretty, creamy, crispy, and tasty!
CHERMOULA LAMB SIRLOIN ($36)
Chickpea Parisienne gnocchi, sauce verte, lamb jus
Cooked to a nice medium rare, I really enjoyed this lamb sirloin, even more so than the tenderloin. The sauce verte paired very well with the lamb, and the chickpea gnocchi added a nice texture element to the dish. The entire plate was a delight. I hardly eat lamb sirloin too so this was a nice treat (I usually have rack of lamb, lamb shoulder or lamb leg).
With harissa rouille
These were really well-seasoned fries. The harissa sauce was nice but I didn't even use it much.
SAUTÉED WILD MUSHROOMS ($8)
Again, nicely seasoned mushrooms. Very delicious.
TAYLOR FLADGATE, LATE BOTTLED VINTAGE ($6)
CHOCOLATE CAKE ($10)
Peanut mousse, toffee crunch, caramel sauce
Chocolate, peanut, toffee, and caramel put together can only be amazing.
BASKET OF À LA MINUTE BAKED MADELEINES ($7)
Average, definitely not great. It's hard for me not to compare these madeleines to the ones from Cafe Boulud because these two restaurants are the only restaurants in the city that serve madeleines for dessert (restaurants I've been to anyway). These ones were noticeably not as soft, fluffy or airy as the ones from Cafe Boulud. The madeleines here were more dense and they didn't have a slightly "crisp" edge. Even though the madeleines were baked "a la minute" they were barely just warm.
Aside from lunch and dinner, guests can also visit Biff's Bistro for "Dirty Bits & Booze" (from 2:30 p.m. on weekdays, 5 p.m. on weekends), with $7 bar bites and drinks specials, and "Fondue Sundays", which serves two for $37.95, pairing Biff’s signature recipe with freshly baked O&B Artisan bread, traditional Swiss and German meats, Honeycrisp apples, and more. Biff's fondue blend features a mixture of grated Gruyère, Emmental and Appenzeller cheeses, topped off with a touch of kirsch, white wine, garlic, nutmeg and thyme.
*This meal was complimentary. The opinions and views expressed on this post are my own*