Colette Grand Cafe for Dinner (Toronto)

For some reason I’m on a French food kick lately. It has something to do with their beautiful restaurants, equally artistic plates and of course the rich sauces. Having visited Colette Grand Café for brunch, Winterlicious seemed like an opportune time to return to sample dinner service. After all, the dining room is stunning – one thing off the list.

Although not the prettiest, Colette’s French onion soup was richly flavoured and loaded with slivers of sweet caramelized onions on the bottom. Plenty of cubed croutons floated on top, the corners retaining their crispiness despite sitting in the soup. There was also a sufficient, but not overwhelming, amount of gruyere cheese so it didn’t feel too heavy. If only there was more of the lovely broth itself; between all the onions and soaked bread, there was little soup to actually enjoy and made the bowl seem so shallow and sunken.

The heartiness of the beef bourguignon beckoned and despite being tantalizingly plated, the execution was merely fine. I'll paraphrase my friend who described the dish best - it's a good take on braised short ribs but it's not beef bourguignon. Most noticeably the dish lacked the adult flavours of a robust red wine or hint of brandy. But, it did have tiny pieces of a pickled vegetable scattered amongst the braising liquid (could be onion or celery) that provided a shock of freshness that’s unexpected but welcomed. Moreover, the silky celery root and potato puree was buttery and satisfying.   

As with my previous brunch experience, Colette's desserts have none of the pizazz you'd expect from a country that's synonymous with swoon worthy pastries. The horchata rice pudding was good, especially when mixed with the smooth orb of pistachio mascarpone cream in the centre, but hardly made you want to stop and savour it.

Despite being talked up by our friendly bubbly server, the chocolate brownie cake fell flat when it became evident it sat in the oven too long, so much so that a fork could hardly penetrate the cake’s edges. The second serving they brought out was better, akin to a crunchier Two Bite Brownie. The peanut butter anglaise, smeared on the plate, was fantastic.

Consider their off-menu dessert – salted caramel ice cream. It sounds plain but arrived topped with crumbled toffee and the best of the three. I guess that’s a reminder: sometimes it’s the simple things that can be the most satisfying. 

Overall mark - 7 out of 10
Is Winterlicious worth it (based on my meal selection)?
Winterlicious - $45
Regular menu - $47 - soup* ($10), beef* ($29) and dessert* ($12)
Savings - $6 or 12%

* As many dishes weren't part of their regular menu, the soup was based on wild mushroom soup, beef based on braised lamb shank and dessert a wild guess from me
How To Find Them
 Location: Toronto, Canada
 Address: 550 Wellington Street West

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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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