tables and chair on patio

Dining at L’avenue, a pocket of Paris in Toronto

L’avenue’s old-school dishes and sun-dappled patio conjure a café society vibe that invites lingering.

Though L’avenue on Parliament is tucked at one end of a charming street in Toronto’s Cabbagetown neighbourhood, it might fool you into thinking you’re in the sixième arrondissement. Inside, marble wainscotting, contemporary art and pressed linen tablecloths feel reassuringly grownup.

A white dining room with colourful abstract art on the walls

Outside, chic monogrammed awnings above bistro tables and bentwood chairs parlay a more casual, bohemian air that’s also unabashedly pretty.

An outdoor patio in a city

The menu is more old-school than innovative. Think classics like French onion soup, where deeply flavoured broth lays in wait beneath an oozy crust of gruyère; escargots nestle in pools of garlicky, herb-flecked butter; and light-as-air dessert soufflé shimmers with silkiness. The house bread, and pastries, are supplied by Marc Thuet, the acclaimed Alsace-born, Toronto-based chef who cut his culinary chops in Michelin-starred kitchens throughout Europe. Pair his sourdough with a dollop of the housemade tapenade (glossy black like caviar and laced with a soupçon of umami-giving anchovy) and all is right in the world. If tapenade isn’t your jam, order the eat-with-your-hands, joy-giving fries. They’re presented in a cone of French-headlined paper and tucked into silver cup that sits atop a doily – très chic.

A metal cone with french fries wrapped in paper and ketchup and mayonnaise on the side

Not surprisingly, L’avenue’s owners, husband-and-wife team Mike and Elora Diles, are unapologetic Francophiles. They visit the City of Light as often as they can and opened the restaurant to transport some of that Gallic magic back home. Inspiration varied from the lip-smacking comfort food of Ferdi to the storied elegance of The Ritz, and this diversity comes across in the L’avenue menu. “I would say we have dishes to cater to everyone,” says Elora. “We gravitate to French classics but wanted to ensure that there were menu items that everyone could enjoy, from burgers and steaks to pasta and pizza.”

A hamburger and cone of fries on a white plate

Ever-present GM and maître d’ Peter is on hand to ensure service runs smoothly and will remember your name, even after one visit. L’avenue has recently opened for weekend brunch and it’s hard to imagine a nicer spot to sip a crisp Sancerre, tuck into a generously buttered Croque Madame and watch tout le monde pass by.

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