by Lauren Mote
Toronto’s Leslieville, located just west of the Beaches on Queen St, East is now home to former Le Sélect Chef Brad Clark & Sommelier Beata Borkowski’s Fare Bistro. This evening, I have invited a dining partner so we can sample a variety of Chef Clark’s menu and share it with an audience of indulgent readers.
Upon entering the spacious, ambient restaurant, one is embraced by the welcoming homely comfort and the subtle background melody of eclectic jazz. Tasteful antique pieces have been artistically placed throughout the restaurant and converted into work stations which further add to the chic country atmosphere. Fare Bistro offers seating either on the quiet back patio or in the simple yet elegant dining room.
We start our evening on the back patio where we slowly savour a glass of 2006 Château la Tour de L’Evêque Rosé, a tantalizing prelude to the sumptuous appetizers we are about to experience. The wine list is simple, yet houses some classic Old and New world selections such as a classic 2003 Les Chablisienne Chablis or a 2004 Viňedos Raimat Syrah Tempranillo that is fast gaining popularity with sommeliers and casual wine drinkers. From the patio, our server escorts us to our table in the dining room which just happens to be situated at the front picture window where the sunlight streams through and one can settle in and watch the world go by.
The appetizers arrive. I have the house-cured Atlantic salmon gravlax. The essence of fresh dill captivates my senses; dill is such a beautiful summer herb. The gravlax’s taste and texture was silky and melted in the mouth. The buckwheat galette provided a brilliant crunch and the frisée and pea greens, tossed in light herb vinaigrette, gave me the saltiness I craved. My dining partner had the grilled calamari that arrived like a flower on the plate, surrounded by colourful grilled vegetables, seasoned niçoise olives and finished with a rich balsamic drizzle. The calamari was cooked perfectly. Our seafood starters were perfectly paired with a 2005 Sevre et Maine Muscadet from the Loire Valley; dry, medium body, bright fruits, and nice, clean acidity.
Our main course is presented in a timely fashion. A masterpiece rests on the table in front of me. Earthy cremini mushrooms meet braised leeks and tangy goat cheese inside house-made ravioli served with a rich tomato puree. The perfectly pink pork tenderloin atop the ravioli is seasoned well. My dining partner enjoyed one of Chef Clark’s signature dishes; Tilapia served in an herb crust, accented with cumin scented lentils du puy and finished in a shallow pond of beurre blanc. Beata suggests a 2003 Marlborough Whalesback Pinot Noir. The pinot noir enhances the sweetness of both the herb crusted tilapia and the succulent pork tenderloin, while lending itself well to cut the heaviness of the beurre blanc, and pair almost perfectly to the tanginess of the goat cheese.
For dessert, my guest and I shared a warm lemon sabayon that was offered as a daily special. Chef Clark’s use of sweet seasonal strawberries and blackberries stands up well to the fresh zing of the lemon and the smooth, warm egg yolk sabayon. The dish is finished with a chiffonade of fresh mint leaves, a light dusting of icing sugar and a berry reduction.
To end the meal, I felt it more than appropriate to enjoy a digestif. A warm snifter with a lavish shot of Calvados Boulard does the trick.
Our server assumed the responsibility of our satisfaction, and this was maintained throughout the evening without question. Although a casual space, servers are professional, and exercise a graceful display of the service technique found in most high end restaurants today. A great dining experience is a combination of many elements, and Fare Bistro has earned the right to stand tall.
Dinner for two with wine, tax and tip: $150.00
Fare Bistro www.farebistro.com
1097 Queen St. E
416 645 0914
Hours: Dinner – Monday to Sunday; Brunch – Saturday and Sunday