Marcel's Le Saint Tropez - 3.2 /5
315 King Street West, Toronto
It was 10 PM when we left the Mockingbird Club's monthly Speakeasy Artist Exhibit and had still not eaten all day. Honestly, you could have fed me a McDonalds cheeseburger and I would have thought it fabulous but we decided to try some "Award Winning Fine French Cuisine" as advertised on the front of the Le Saint Tropez, a somewhat causal French restaurant on King St. West and John Street.
There are always certain expectations for a French restaurant, somewhat chilled service, fabulous wine and an incomprehensible menu with exaggerated squiggly writing. At Le Saint Tropez our server, Kara, was extremely friendly, the wine list was perfect offering wines from the St. Torpez region and although the menu was squiggly and French, the English translations were quite clear. I quickly glanced at the wine list and ordered the Beaujolais Villages 2000 Le PerrĂ©on, Domaine de la Madone, Jean Bererd.
I decided then on the Chef's Creation of the night, described as a combination platter of lamb, chicken and roasted pork. The description was vague but I am always enticed by â€śChefâ€™s Creationâ€ť. We started with some frog legs, simply because we were at a French restaurant and therefore, we could. The walls were decorated with French memorabilia, bread and paintings of cottage kitchens and fruit bowls.
The frog legs arrived with a sensuous smell of roasted garlic and tomatoes. They were displayed in a large scalloped dish with many twiggy garnishes. The legs themselves were soft, tender and well, "just like chicken" but were flavorless. The sauce was perfect for dipping freshly baked bread. The legs I could have left behind but by this time I would have eaten an entire frog.
Some time passed before our main course but Kara was quick to ensure our glasses were full and our frog legs were tasty.
The meals arrived shortly after the live entertainment started. The highlight of the evening, a solo pianist singing softly in French, if I had closed my eyes and sipped my Beaujolais for that moment, I could have been in the South of France. All of a sudden the restaurant was on my good list.
The Chef's special was intriguing with julienne sliced carrots and yellow peppers slightly tender and dressed on baked baby potatoes. The chicken was peppered with at least 5 different types of peppercorns. The lamb cooked beautifully with a soft pink middle and slightly charred crust. The roasted pork was a little dry and I thought perhaps we arrived too late.
While I am always geared for a crĂ¨me brulee or sorbets au choix, by now it was 11 PM and dessert was out of the question, my excitement for a fine French experience was over. However, I will try Le Saint Tropez again, I will sit next to the piano and enjoy a bottle of wine, a succulant dessert and pretend that I smoke and paint pictures along a canal.
Learn about Marcel Restaurants at www.marcels.com