Leave it to the Senator, Toronto’s oldest diner, to go even more oldschool for its upstairs spinoff: the tiny Senator Winebar, packed with ornate antiques and an old Heintzman piano, is the kind of time-worn bistro you’d find off some decrepit stairwell in Montmartre, rather than spitting distance from Yonge-Dundas Square. But it would all just be window dressing were it not for head chef Paul Laforet, a veteran of upscale-health-food spot Ursa (who’s probably relieved he now gets to cook with all the butter his heart desires), and Lorenzo Fattò Offidani, who followed his passion for old-school American cocktail culture onto the Orient Express (where he previously tended bar) and all the way to Toronto from Italy. Grab some savoury mushroom toast or coq au vin and something amaretto-spiked, and let the rustle of the street fade away behind the sound of the live piano – it’s a heck of a lot cheaper than a ticket to Paris. 249 Victoria, at Dundas, 416-364-7517, thesenator.com/wine-bar
Steak au poivre with potato pavé, green beans with garlic, and cognac and cream sauce at Senator Winebar.