We were talking with Ma Cherie about the benefits of Groupon (and clones alike). Maybe it boils down to simply being an instrument of inconspicuous spending induction? Our conclusion was that these sites can be used as a catalyst for exploring new and interesting places in the city. As an example, a small French bistro Midi advertised a 3 course dinner with wine for 2 people for only around $40... Too good to pass :). No pun intended, but we did pass by the place quite a few times before. Ma Cherie's alma mater is OCAD so this area has some sentimental meaning to us.
dark amber, rare
Baldwin is busy (and hot) like hell on this hazy July evening. Midi is a bit off the crowded stretch - right on McCaul instead. Schools are out, so patios of local eateries are filled with chilling youth. Midi is a more upscale bistro with some class to it. When we walked in, it was actually empty except two older ladies chatting catching up on their social lives in the corner.
dried fruit, hint of a nut
We were warmly greeted by a young lady. It looked like she was a hostess and a waiter at the same time - very down-to-earth and not pretending to be french. A window seat was chosen and we made ourselves comfortable in simple, but functional chairs. The menu is very busy with well described options and a separate wine map. Few things were missing (e.g. lamb) as announced by our waitress, but the choices were fairly comprehensive and fitting with what any self-respecting French bistro should offer. Although our host was fighting what appeared to be an allergy cough attack, she was able to walk us through the menu and make recommendations.
a lonely warm oak sent
We ended up ordering a Midi Salad, Pate de Champagne, a Faux-Filet Grille and a chef’s special - Duck Confit. This was to be paired with a Californian Chardonnay and a Languedoc Syrah. Now we had time to look around... The place was tastefully but minimalistic decoration with some vintage posters and bottles along the walls. Odd star lights, suspended by the windows, were perhaps left over from Christmas. So we sat and chatted away occasionally glancing at still empty dining room around us. (everyone was probably out on patios)
smooth texture and elegance on the palate, well balanced
The Midi Salad and Pate arrived very fast - I would say within 10 minutes or so. The presentation and arrangement on the plate was impeccable and we jumped right in. I would definitely recommend the salad as something interesting to try. It was loaded with prosciutto and greens along with some Asiago cheese on top. Walnuts and cherry tomatoes accented the green mass and the hints of pesto added interesting notes to it. One of the tastier salads I tried recently. Pate was less exciting, but also definitely worthwhile to try. Ma Cherie was able to pick up the hints of champagne in it. I definitely failed to do so. The grain-rich toast was covered in parsley and the dish came with a side of greens in accompaniment with that promised Gherkin pickle to add acidity accent to that smooth, creamy dish.
The main course didn't take too long to arrive. However, by that time we ran out of wine and asked for refills - salad and pate got us carried away a bit with wine. Ma Cherie was very delighted by her steak, I do not think I ever saw her being so happy about grilled beef before. Hits of smoky aroma and perfectly captured juices made the dish highly enjoyable. The strip-loin had some fatty parts to it, but they added that special smell she loved. I would recommend Midi over some places specializing in steak (in the same price range anyway) - tried some inferior meat in those, Midi definitely sets the bar high for us again. The steak had a light paprika-tomatoe base sauce and fresh garlic on top to bring this dish to its full potential (plus greens on the side). Finally I had a Duck Confit with salad. Yes, a salad again. Ma Cherie was happy to see a place which really pushes refreshing veggies as a side to any dish, even if perhaps compromising for the dish presentation. I though it was too many salads - should have had something else on the side by that point. The dark and juicy meat was cooked to perfection and was falling off the bone. I normally do not like duck as it tends to be too greasy for me, but this iteration was very well made. An excellent match for the Syrah!
We concluded our dinner by reading off the small chalk-board our choice of desserts: Warm Walnut Chocolate Cake and Tarte Tatin served with ice cream. While the cake appeared to be very fresh and appropriately moist, we did not find the tart of any interest. But then again...maybe it was because we had so many well-made dishes just prior to and it was difficult to compare.
a strong presence, signature drink
I would have called this a hidden gem, but it is really not that concealed being right next to super-busy Baldwin stretch. It is small, but intimate. Not a particularly spectacular view and a bit on a darker side inside, but I would still call it romantic. Definitely a very down-to-earth French Bistro which I think more people should give a chance to.
Overall.. a smooth French cognac.
(wanting to breathe - some fresh warm air will help it stand out more)