Parquet (Toronto)

Harbord Street is home to many solid Toronto restaurants with one of the newest being Parquet. It occupies a great space having a sizeable dining room and patio to match, which is done up to exude comfort, beckoning you to just have a seat and a glass of wine. The last time I’d been in the area, it held THR and Co. and it was certainly a spot for an elongated meal.

Parquet’s oysters are a tad pricy at $24 for six, but there’s something about oysters and champagne that made for an ideal starter. Flown from the East Coast, the oysters were fresh and cleanly presented, but what really impressed was the mignonette - made with aged vinegar, it was mellow and added tanginess without the sting. We could still taste the oyster’s natural brininess, just enhanced with a sweeter finish.

The salt cod beignets ($17 for 3; additional $4 for extra piece) were crispy but not airy enough. Nonetheless, there was adequate amounts of salt cod used in the batter so that it was evident, giving the fritters a savouriness without being too salty.

Watch out for your tongue during the first bite of sablefish ($38), mine arrived scorching hot – the way I like it. Being well roasted, it had the look of a miso black cod, so much so that I expected a sweet taste. Yet, the sauce Americane, a buttery bell pepper and vegetable concoction, has a much fresher and savoury flavour that goes nicely with the cod.

The sablefish built the foundation of a good dish if the sides weren’t so bland and forgettable: dry roasted gai lan leaves (where is the actual stalk, which would have at least added some sweet crispiness?) and boiled turnips. I guess it’s Parquet’s way of making diners add on a $20 side dish, except these were also all mainly more vegetables.  

It wouldn’t be a French restaurant without steak frites ($52 for the striploin) and Parquet’s was good, cooked to the ideal medium rare with a caramelized crust. The silky red wine au jus was a great addition (and you really did need it to give the beef flavour), the dish just needed way more of it for the fries as the parsley aioli was too liquorice heavy for my liking.

Sadly, the apple tart tartine wasn’t on the dessert menu that evening, and the rest sounded uninspired. Hence, I opted for an espresso martini ($18) instead, Parquet’s has a stronger spike that other versions and was a nice finisher.

I really want to like Parquet - maybe because of its Harbord location where some of my favourite restaurants are housed – but the food was mediocre and feels like a cash grab. At least they have a great ambiance, I guess some can look past the ho hum food when you’re sitting in a comfy banquette and there’s Parisian café music playing. Pourquoi?

Overall mark - 6 out of 10

How To Find Them
 Location: Toronto, Canada
 Address: 97 Harbord Street

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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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