492 Queen W, at Portland, 416-929-4900, lapalette.ca Like a fine wine, Shamez Amlani’s one-time Kensington cantina has only improved since relocating to the old Queen West strip. Suave service, an impeccable carte from long-time chef Brook Kavanagh and a serious beer cellar make this charming room one of the best French bistros in town. The pedal-powered rickshaw out front? That’s how the bike activist returns his empties!
Best: to begin, rustic duck liver pâté with crostini and house-pickled cornichons; confit d’escargots with mushrooms, spring asparagus and baby spinach in dilled lemon beurre blanc; entrees like triple A Black Angus strip loin with wild leek pesto and skinny Yukon Gold frites; for the vegetarian, a seasonal stew of roasted pompom mushrooms, smoked new potatoes and pickled green beans with shaved asparagus and miso-braised fava beans in sea buckthorn vinaigrette; for the truly fearless, the Quack ’n’ Track, a pairing of duck confit and horse tenderloin with foraged muchrooms and oat barley risotto; at lunch and brunch, Fromage Fondant of deep-fried Camembert crusted with beersoaked almonds; the Quack Of Dawn, a soft-boiled duck egg with panko-dusted duck sausage and wild red watercress salad in a grapefruit vinaigrette; to finish, classic lemon tart. Lunch and brunch daily 11 am to 4 pm, dinner nightly from 4 pm till close. Closed Monday (July 30) to August 8. Reservations accepted. Average main $24 dinner/$16 lunch or brunch. Licensed. Access: barrier-free, washrooms in basement. Rating: