Mon Cheri and I decided to visit Greta Solomon's for our 3 year anniversary, hearing about this neighbourhood gem from BlogTO.
The facade was a pale, baby-like yellow with the name of the restaurant written in a grey simple font, with an art-nouveau charm. Our first impression was of subtle, child-like friendliness.
Walking in straight through the open doors serving as a storefront, we realized that the restaurant didn't appear to have a ramp or a defined entrance. Inside, we found ourselves in a private 20-odd seat dining room, with warm brick walls, beautiful honey-brown tables and details as well as a pop of a bright royal blue, which is hard to forget. Black and white portraits and diffused lighting enhanced the atmosphere. All of this got us transported back in time to our honeymoon in France - an intimate environment, lots of vintage details and a faint Edith Piaf playing in the background. An overriding neutral palette of rich materials accented by inserts of colour speak to a vibrant, contemporary elegance and create a generally upscale impression
We had to make a reservation, as all the tables that night were booked. At the same time, we were the first ones to arrive at 6pm. We had our name on a tiny chalkboard next to us, written with a lime green colour (a not-too-appetizing detail). Their meal and cocktail menus were narrow and elegant, with just enough options not to be overwhelming. We noticed that the font use was not consistent across the printed materials. The wine cart was the largest list on the table - a wide single fold. Comparing to it, the meal menu was a smaller, narrower sheet.Emma, our waitress, was helpful, but could be better in wine suggestions for our selections of Magret de Canard and Tartare A'agneau. We ended up going for their Burgandy région Pinot Noir, as well as the Malbec from South-Western France. We should note, we weren't impressed by the Pinot Noir, it lacked intrigue and a finish for a three year old wine at $17 a glass. It was low-mid weight, with just a light dusty nose. The Malbec, on the other hand was one of the more cost-effective selections of red wine by the glass - it had a solid expression of dense dark fruit nose and a dry finish which we both enjoyed.
We decided to go with Sardines appetizer to share, which in retrospect should have been accompanied by something else due to its' tiny size. The dish came topped with a cloud of Parmesan and dill with the sardines over two thick baguette slices. The fish had plenty of olive oil, creating a smooth texture while the crispy baguettes balanced it with rough crumbles. There were hints of horseradish and pickled onions, to add subtlety - we really enjoyed this salty appetizer.
Our main dishes were both presented with a sense of finesse. The Tartare A'agneau came with elaborate thin cumin crostini pieces, while cuddled in the middle of the bowl was the tartar meat with hints of mint, Harissa, much needed cucumber and light coriander. The lamb was fresh and tender, no sharp smell for you nose-sensitive foodies. We both agreed that the Tartare A'agneau was a sensational dish.
Margret de Canard roasted duck breast was traditionally presented and organized with parsnip purée, roasted carrots, braised cabbage all around. Unfortunately, Ma Cherie had a hard time enjoying the duck, which was not to a texture of her liking, and was further put off by the strong tarragon flavour. To our surprise the owner, noticed our discontent and insisted that she made Ma Cherie choose a new dish. Darlene suggested Filet de Bœuf and even went out of her way to top up or glasses of wine. Her warm personal touch really made our experience unforgettable. The seared Ontario Striploin piece beautifully piled in a rectangular place surrounded by sauce béarnaise, and prompted up by confit potatoes and chanterelle mushrooms. This was a remarkable dish which we enjoyed medium rare. The meat was incredibly endear and some light paprika, tarragon and chives added that subtle beauty.
Lastly, our dessert consisted of an unforgettable lightly cooked pear, drizzled in walnut honey sauce and filled with vanilla custard in the very middle. We were sure glad not to be surprised by the usual fibrous stringy middle, the custard was truly a beautiful addition. This dish is a treat and made for a great combination with our sparkling wines. Mon Cheri also insisted that we taste their Crème Brûlée, which lived up to all our expectations.
It can be sometimes hard to share your true feelings about a dish when a waiter comes and asks you in a rush. The hard work of the chef and staff this charming Lesliville bistro, made it next to impossible to complain and try to return a dish. However, we once again want to thank the attentive owner for rescuing our experience and boosting our experience without a question. Although Greta Solomon's is a French inspired bistro, the service is nothing like Parisian rash temperament, the customer's experience is king here.
PS: note that their washroom is worth the trip too. As if we went south the French boarder, in the bathroom we found tasteful Moroccan style tiles and complementary toothbrushes.