CLOSED: A La Carte Bistro (Toronto)

Gardiner Museum Doors at 6PM

You may have heard about Friday Nights at the ROM and Thursday Nights at the AGO; popular evening events in Toronto that allow us to have drinks and absorb culture. Over July 2015, add the Gardiner Museum to the list as they have launched ‘Doors at 6PM’: a series of Friday events … that is FREE with half-priced admission. 

Events differ by week, so check their website for details. However, each evening features special craft beer and wine on their patio and a clay station so guests can get their creative juices rolling. And if you’re feeling hungry, it’s a great opportunity to visit A La Carte Bistro upstairs. 

Recently, the restaurant invited me to try their new summer menu and I got a peak of what Doors at 6PM had to offer. It’s a low-key evening compared to the ROM, with a crowd of varied ages. That Friday, the Writers’ Trust of Canada presented recipients who did a reading from award winning short stories and there was a live jazz band that serenaded us during dinner. 

Given the size of the tuna nicoise ($18), my friend and I split the salad. At first I was a bit apprehensive when the flaked tuna came into view; the essence of the smelly canned variety came to mind. Luckily, the fish used at A La Carte was fresh and light that it quickly dispelled my fears. The tuna, along with the spring mix, baby potatoes, cherry tomatoes, green beans, egg and olives were all well flavoured – the salad was easily hearty enough to be a main. 

A La Carte Bistro tuna nicoise

Pan-seared chicken breast ($24) is generally not something I get excited over, but something about the sweet corn risotto was beckoning me. I’m glad I gave it chance as the chicken was delicious – moist and topped with salty crispy skin. The risotto had a decadent cheesy element to it with the addition of whipped goat cheese and Grana Padano parmesan, while a sweet corn puree pooled around it. 

A La Carte Bistro chicken breast

The petit pain ciabatta ($20) contained three fair sized sandwiches (each about the size of 1.5 sliders) that were filled with different meats: a braised brisket with Belgian ale, roasted pork with caramelized onion and roasted lamb with fig and walnut pesto. They all had sufficient flavour from all the sauces, which were tailored to the individual protein. My friend and I both agreed these were tasty, but if they were hot, would have been even better. 

A La Carte Bistro petit pain ciabatta

 Despite being stuffed, we tucked into the beautiful mignardises plate for two ($10). It contained a selection of rich chocolate truffles, pistachio biscotti, chocolate dipped cookies, vanilla powder sugar dusted madeleine and berries with cream. The cookies were the highlight - soft and satisfying without being too sweet or oily. 

A La Carte Bistro dessert

The transition of the menu into lighter salads and fare is ideal for the warmer weather. Gone are the chicken pot pie, paella and baked lobster mac ‘n’ cheese of the winter menu, you can certainly see the transformation and taste the lightness. It shows the Chef puts thought into what’s best for the summer. 

As my friend and I exited the building after an evening of great food, interesting entertainment and a bottle of bubbly, we couldn’t help but laugh at the ROM’s line snaking down University. So, if you’re in the neighbourhood and don’t fancy waiting, just remember there is another delicious option. And it’s just across the street.

Overall mark - 7.5 out of 10
* Disclaimer: the above meal was complimentary. But, rest assured as noted in my mission statement, I will always provide an honest opinion.

How To Find Them
 Location: Toronto, Canada
 Address: 111 Queens Park

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Gastro World's Grading System

  • Anything under 5 - I really disliked and will never go back
  • 6 - decent restaurant but I likely won't return
  • 7 - decent restaurant and I will likely return
  • 8 - great restaurant that I'd be happy to recommend
  • 9 - fantastic restaurant that I would love to visit regularly and highly recommend
  • 10 - absolute perfection!

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