Thursday, July 7, 2016

Le Baratin - French Fare on Dundas West

You don’t need to use your line of credit to eat french!” - Chef Jean Regis Raynaud, Le Baratin

True, that is if you're eating at Le Baratin! Opened nearly two months ago, Le Baratin - which stands for "Smooth Talker" in French - is a small French bistro on Dundas West. Helming the kitchen is classically trained French chef, Jean Regis Raynaud, formerly of Le Paradis. After 18 years of cooking in France, UK, and St. Martin, Jean Regis finally realized his dream of running his own restaurant, where he is able to share his "food philosophy, L’art de Vivre- the art of life, a touch of France here in Toronto”, Jean Regis explained.

Quite often, when people hear the words "French food" or "French restaurant", they immediately think of white tablecloths, pretentious service, lavish menus, and $$$$. So, I'm thrilled to tell you that Le Baratin (Twitter: @LeBaratinYYZ, Facebook: Le Baratin) is anything but those things. The atmosphere at the small bistro is casual and relaxed, and the service is prompt and friendly. Le Baratin is a cozy French bistro, and it's somewhere I see myself going back again and again.

Le Baratin serves classic French fare, with some modern elements incorporated by chef Jean Regis. It is opened for lunch/brunch, seven days a week from 9AM - 5PM, and dinner five a days a week from Tuesday to Saturday, 5PM - 10PM. During the Day, Le Baratin serves dishes such as the Farcou (French spinach pancake), the Croque Monsieur, and the Tartifete (baked gratin with potatoes). The lunch menu offers a selection of salads, omelettes, and original sandwiches such as the Boeuf Bourguignon on a bun.

I visited Le Baratin for dinner last week, and let me tell you right off the bat that it exceeded my expectations. So much so that I've already recommended a handful of my friends to Le Baratin already.

SIDECAR (right)
Armagnac, Cointreau, lemon
All their cocktails are priced at $10. Cheers to that!

Baked tomato torte with goat cheese & "herbes de Provence" served w/ mixed green salad
This baked tomato tart is the perfect summertime fare, especially when paired with the light green salad. Unlike some other tarts with custard or cream, this torte really showcased the seasonal tomatoes. The crust is nice and flaky, and the goat cheese is superb; I enjoyed the crusty-brown parts on top and the warm and creamy soft inside.

Roasted beetroot w/ pickled red onion, cumin dressing & cracked goat cheese
I love beets. You gotta love beets to appreciate this salad, and boy, did I appreciate it. The pickled red onions gave the beets the “pickled” flavour, without overwhelming the earthy tone of the beets. The goat cheese and beet chips contributed another level of flavour and texture to the salad. The Mediterranean-inspired cumin dressing with its warm herbal notes blended beautifully with the tang of the pickled onions.

Slow cooked duck leg in fat with roasted potatoes & mushrooms in a red wine sauce
Classic French dish, when done well, equates to fall-off-the-bone, melt-in-your-mouth tender meat that's been flavoured with salt, garlic and fat. Deliciousness. While the skin could be a tad crispier, Le Baratin certainly does this dish justice. The rich red wine sauce and the roasted potatoes undeniably adds another level of heartiness to the dish.

5hrs braised lamb shank w/ rosemary, red wine & garlic, served with tomato confit kidney beans
This braised lamb shank is another hearty, wholesome dish, even more so than the duck leg confit. When the plate was served I was taken back, a.k.a. happy, at how huge this hunk of meat was. The lamb was so delicate and supple that I only needed a fork to pick at it. Along with the tomato confit kidney beans, which was just ridiculous (in a good way), I can only imagine how wonderful it would be to indulge in this warm and robust dish in the winter. This was my favourite main of the evening.

Crispy roasted pork belly with pickled radish, mashed potatoes & port wine sauce
Where do I start? I loved the crispy, caramelized edges of the pork belly. Tons of flavour there. I personally only enjoyed the fattier side of the pork belly because I found the leaner side a bit dry. The mashed potatoes were light, velvety, not gluey, and perfectly seasoned. It also soaked up some of the slightly sweet port wine. The pickled radish was a welcomed "palette cleanser" because it helped cut some of the richness on the plate

Upside down apple tart, caramel
This was one very sweet dessert. Heavily caramelized, this upside down apple tart does not mess around. I usually shy away from super sweet desserts but I kept on eating and eating and eating... The caramelized layer of hot apple glory topped with cream (I wish it was ice cream though) nesting on a golden pastry crust was obviously too hard for me to resist.

This creme caramel was remarkably light and easy to eat. If you find yourself too full from the mains, just remember that you will have room for this dessert. Guaranteed. This custard dessert was firm yet delicate (not rubbery), thick in flavour yet soft, not too rich nor too sweet so it didn't fight with the rich, golden caramel topping. It was perfect.

Le Baratin is not fancy French food. Le Baratin serves approachable French comfort food, at least that's how I would describe it. Their menu is delicious and affordable, and portions are generous. I felt really full and happy after my dinner at Le BaratinI'm also ecstatic about the fact that I've finally found a French restaurant that I can frequent regularly without breaking the bank.

*This meal was complimentary. The opinions and views expressed on this post are my own*

Le Baratin Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato