Since 2001, pastry chef and founder Steve Wemyss has manned the mixers at Patisserie Monaco, supplying artfully crafted wholesale pastries to clients throughout Canada. Today, approximately 100 team members join him in the operation to ensure the finest in craftsmanship, ingredients, food safety, and timely transportation. Their array of professional desserts includes black forest cakes, cookies, petite french fruit tarts, and elegant strawberry cheesecake squares. The company walks on the savoury side with their twists and flatbreads—including a basil pizza twist—and hors d’oeuvres such as jerk-chicken firecrackers, which despite all logic, can be safely eaten at gas stations.
On a nondescript St. Lawrence Market District street corner, one of the area's top fine dining establishments hides inside a historic brick building. Lucien's almost industrial-looking facade is a stark juxtaposition to an interior where chandeliers and velvety red curtains contribute to a refined yet welcoming space. Customers dine flanked by an elegant marble-topped bar and a sectioned wall behind which the kitchen staff can be spied conjuring up the restaurant's acclaimed dishes, all made form locally sourced ingredients.
Experienced restaurateur Simon Bower crafted the eatery's attitude and decor while chef Etienne Lemieux created the menu, which stars such gems such as grilled bincho octopus and red deer bresola. Lucien's genial milieu exudes the elegance of fine dining in an unstuffy, cozy setting. The establishment has won numerous awards for its overall quality, being praised as "the city's best new restaurant" by Toronto Life magazine and placed among enRoute magazine's top 10 restaurants in Canada. Meals can be capped off with an artisanal cheese plate ($17) or sake cherries jubilee ($12).
Instructors Junyan Boon and Danielle Nash get bodies moving during salsa and fast-paced Brazilian zouk lessons that encourage students to make new friends and build confidence. They also tone bodies with Zumba classes, which cause muscles to dance in synchronization with international beats in a party-like atmosphere.
As the sun sets and the lights dim, the studio transforms into a hopping social scene where live blues music fills the air with a soulful beat and feet sweep across the dance floor. Though the Brazilian zouk parties held these nights may seem intimidating at first, with scores of skillful dancers gyrating perfectly to the beat, it soon becomes apparent that the more experienced dancers love teaching newcomers basic moves so they can quickly join the fun.
The chefs at Absolute Restaurant pride themselves on perfectly creating and plating modern French bistro cuisine. Their culinary handiwork is present in dishes such as braised lamb shank with saffron risotto and roasted chicken with smashed fingerling potatoes, shiitake mushrooms, and thyme jus. Chefs carefully craft sauces—without the use of thickeners or additives—to drizzle over seared wild scallops and well-marbled striploin steaks. Guests can dine inside at wooden tables or outside on black wrought-iron patio furniture to enjoy the weather or catch a glimpse of the sun’s shadow.
With glimmering wine glasses, white napkins, and fresh flowers scattered across its wooden tables and countertops, Bistro 243 personifies a cozy-yet-stylish French bistro. The intimate restaurant serves elegant lunch and dinner dishes daily, with entrees such as mushroom risotto and chicken stuffed with spinach and brie further channeling European pleasures. On weekends, diners stop by to sip on mimosas from the full bar while enjoying brunch selections ranging from omelettes with smoked salmon to sandwiches with pulled pork.
Café du Lac offers contemporary Quebecoise cuisine created from Quebec-based ingredients (when possible) in an intimate bistro setting for dinner and brunch. The dinner menu pits a charcutiere plate of house-cured meats and foie gras ($18) against three flavours of poutine—including the heart-stopping all-dressed poutine with cream sauce, curds, beef short ribs, and foie gras over a crispy pile of frites ($20)—in a delicious battle for culinary domination. Entrees include a wild boar burger topped with monterey jack and foie gras ($21), a duck confit served with a potato gratin and drizzled with a rich cranberry sauce ($25), and a pan-seared Canadian black cod with celery root puree ($26). The Sunday-brunch menu (served 10:30 a.m. to 2 p.m.) features fresh-made crêpes ($7+) as well as oeufs ($9+) and omelettes ($7+) of several savoury styles.