French restos with a certain ‘Je ne sais quoi’
#18 café cancan Café Cancan is a happy place. With its picture-perfect interior acting as backdrop, chef Victor Barry, wife Nikki McKean and co-owner Brendan Piunno have created a magical realm where it’s always oysters and rosé o’clock. Brunch is popular with their spiffy patrons who, yes, did match their dress to the bistro prior to tucking into truffle-scented scrambled eggs. For dîner, watch the bubbly crowd order from the foie gras section of the menu (ha!) before chomping on Barry’s gourmet burger (an ode to the space’s former life as the Harbord Room) or gnocchi that’s gone Parisian with asparagus and morels. Do note that now there’s both a front and a back patio, for those who like their eats in the sun. 89 Harbord St.
#39 chantecler Walk by this Parkdale space after dusk on a weekday and the scene recalls something you’d see in a nostalgic flick starring Cate Blanchett. With floor-to-ceiling windows opened up, the bistro’s insides feature a wraparound bar and teeny kitchen. Since chef Jon Poon went off to focus on his fancy bars, Jacob Wharton-Shukster, the other half of the original duo, has tightened up the French focus of the space. Chef Peter Robson doles out briny oysters with mignonette sauce, wild buttermilk-fried ‘shrooms gussied up with cheese and lettuce, and super-moist duck done two ways (breast and leg) that will leave the entire party happy. 1320 Queen St. W.
The whimsical interior designed by HGTV Canada’s Tiffany Pratt