For their newest restaurant, King Street Food Company decided to shake things up a bit and depart their Italian comfort zone for a new French bistro on Dundas and Ossington. Firing up the stoves out back we have Brandon Olsen, former chef at Bar Isabel, and current chocolatier extraordinaire (more on that later). The self proclaimed King of Ginger cooks up some seriously refined French food, on a level rarely witnessed in Toronto.
When you enter La Banane, you’re automatically transported to the middle of Paris. The entire place has a very old-school french bistro vibe. Most of the tables are cozy little booths, and there’s a giant bar laden with seafood from Honest Weight and Hooked. As you pass by, you can see the bartenders whipping up one of their classic cocktail concoctions like the Charlie Chaplin or the Ginger Flip, both of which were fantastic. The only real problem with cocktails in Toronto is that you have to re-mortgage your house to afford a couple. But, this is just par for the course in this ridiculously expensive city, I guess.
I’m from the east coast, so I know a good seafood tower when I see it. I saw it, so I recklessly ordered it. This was one of the better seafood towers I’ve had in a long time. It was legitimately towering over us. Filled with oysters, mussels, jumbo shrimp, king crab, soft-shell crab, scallops, and lobster, this tower probably could have fed a small town in Newfoundland… for a week. The tower was pretty expensive, weighing in at 190, but definitely worth every penny. We ate it all.
La Banane has been generating a fair bit of Instagram hype lately over these next two dishes. So I thought I’d have to try both. First off, we had the eurobass en croute. This was a full eurobass prepared in a salt bake crust that was 50/50 salt and flour. The fish is baked in the full criss-crossed crust and then presented as such. It is then rushed back into the kitchen, and they garnish it with zucchini and an INCREDIBLE yuzu beurre-montée. The server warned us twice that we should absolutely not eat the crust. So naturally, I ate a piece of it. It was saltier than a whale’s tit! However, the bass was cooked to perfection in that salt crust and we just destroyed every last piece. We finished off our night with one of the most ridiculous chocolates I have ever seen, the Ziggy Stardust egg. This is essentially a giant Easter egg that is hand painted and filled with goodies. The night we went, it was filled with coffee beans, apricots and dark chocolate truffles. As a chocolate lover, I know Olsen’s chocolates well. He frequently presents them at major events and functions throughout the city. This was a giant $50 version of the small hand-painted chocolates that he is known for. It was so big we actually had chocolate left in the fridge for the next week.
La Banane is a great new addition to Toronto’s dining scene. It is a fantastic contemporary take on the not so contemporary model of a French bistro.