What? elle m’a dit for dinner
Where? 35 Baldwin st (5 min walk from St. Patrick station)
The skinny? Toronto had yet to be exposed to Alsatian cuisine until last June, when elle m’a dit opened in Baldwin Village. Helmed by Chef Gregory Furstoss (formerly Senses) and wife Tory Yang (both from Bistro Bakery Thuet), this is the first restaurant that focuses on the cuisine found in the northeast of France, in Alsace. Think rustic comfort.
(Sorry about being away for so long! Oddly enough, I’ve just been mad busy these past couple of weeks. But I’m back! ;D)
Elle m’a dit is this quaint little restaurant nestled amongst a dozen others in Baldwin Village. We saw Chef Furstoss chatting outside with some of the diners in French (yes I’m envious of francophones…if only I could converse in French with such ease!) and he welcomed us all. Kinda felt like we were going to his house for dinner or something! :D
They’ve got their menu and drinks menu posted outside. On top of that, they have a eloquent sort of guide to the menu too, very helpful! P.S. Chef Gregory Furstoss is actually from Alsace, and so is Chef Marc Thuet (his old boss)!
It was a beautiful day outside, great patio weather but we were seated upstairs in the dining room. I believe that was because there wasn’t enough seats for all 7 of us?
Old-school meat grinder?! The wall decorations are simple but add just the right touch to "homify" the restaurant.
Initially, we thought, “order everything!” But then quickly realized how impractical that was. That would’ve been 21 dishes…which may have been a little excessive. ;D
Elle m’a dit = she told me. Reminds me of Carla Bruni’s song “Quelqu’un m’a dit.” Sort of going on a tangent here, but the former first lady of France has a great voice!
Also, here's the music video for the song. I'm slowly beginning to listen to more and more French/Quebecois artists. So if you've got any favourites, please leave a comment below! ;D (thanks!!)
Traditional tarte flambée – bacon, onion, fromage blanc, gruyère cheese (10)
This tarte/flatbread is seriously paper thin! It was delicious too. You cannot go wrong with the simplicity that is bacon, onion and cheese. More please!
Duck tarte flambée – duck confit, potato, onion, fromage blanc, gruyère cheese (11)
Duck confit is such a classic item of French cuisine so we went for this too. Great combination of flavours here as well but it didn’t have as much bang as the traditional tarte flambée.
Duo of duck – house smoked duck, duck rillette, romaine heart, roasted garlic dressing (17)
The smoked duck had great flavour! The rillette was a little lighter in terms of flavour so it was interesting to experience duck two ways in one dish.
Foie gras terrine – Riesling gelée, sour cherry compote, white bread toast (18)
Who doesn’t like foie gras?! (For the record, that was a rhetorical question). This was a very exciting-looking dish.
The presentation is just so pretty! I really enjoyed this one. Foie gras and wine marry together perfectly so to have the Riesling gelée, so witty.
Seared scallop & braised pork belly – smoked potato purée, pickled ramps, ramp pesto (20)
With such a banging combination of scallop and pork belly, you get best of both worlds (or at least…of the ocean and land?). It was really tricky trying to share this dish but I think we all appreciated the little bites we got haha. Once again, great execution of the dish!
Seared foie grasp b&j – peanut butter, wild blueberry, waffle, jus (20)
As soon as all of our eyes landed on this item on the menu, it was pretty much, “MUST GET NOW!” It was glorious. If only there was more foie gras…
Coq au Vin & spätzle – Alsatian egg dumpling (18)
Coq au vin can be directly from French translated to “rooster with wine.” Braising ups the flavour level by…let’s just say a lot. I’m still always confused by “dumplings.”
Being so accustomed to Chinese dumplings, I always expect them to be stuffed but I loved the egg dumplings here! Kinda bouncy? It has this resilience that gave the dish some texture contrast. (Also, from Toronto Star, here's Chef Furstoss’ recipe for his coq au vin!!)
Baeckeoffe & salad – Alsatian meat casserole, beef lamb and pork with potato (19)
We all had no clue how to pronounce this but the server informed us it was something along the lines of [beh-koff] so we went with that! This is closer to traditional fare (especially how it's been served), in that it’s quite homey and rustic. The flavour level of this casserole was insane.
It was really hot upstairs as dinner was winding down so when our server offered to move us downstairs and outside to the patio, we gladly took the offer! On the g/f of the restaurant, you can see the kitchen in the back, the bar, and a few more seats.
Sweet potato gnocchi – seasonal vegetable, pesto (16)
I was a little confused by this dish. Don’t get me wrong, the crunchy exterior of the gnocchi was an unexpected bonus. However, I didn’t get the same pillowy texture on the inside that I was hoping for.
Beautiful patio space looking out onto the chill street that is Baldwin VIllage. Perfect!
I think the bill for those who didn't drink came up to around $30? Not too bad considering the number of dishes we all tried...even if it may have been just a few bites each.
Verdict: It’s always great to experience the unique cuisine of any region in the world. You learn something new, and maybe you’ll find a new favourite dish too! I really like the coq au vin, the tarte flambée and the baeckeoffe. Some hits and misses here so I’m not sure if I’ll be rushing back. Maybe when they’ve got the a/c on! ;D
Check ‘em out! http://ellemadit.com/
3.5 out of 5 NOMs