April 8th, 2011
OOH LA L'APERO!
Too many eateries have good taste in everything but the food. Not this new and very French bistro, L'Apero, where the décor belies a beautiful menu—and reminds us that's what matters.
L'Apéro is no resto. It's a proper restaurant, with white tablecloths and velvety red booths. Gainsbourgs sing low through the air: first Serge, then Charlotte. Everything starts, and finishes, with butter.
Chef Michael Tocchetto is “from Bordeaux,” the manager tells us, as though that's all we need to know. Perhaps it is. His dishes are to share, like oversize tapas. Favourites: clever little goat cheese profiteroles, though we could do sans caramel, and a salad of arugula, walnuts and candied apricots ($8); escargots in a garlicky, white wine-drunk sauce that begs for more bread ($12); and a hunk of black cod, its salty skin balanced by almost-sweet basil hollandaise and stewed lentils ($17).
Cocktails, mixed by ex-Drake Hotel bartender Josh, are twisted classics. “The Fedora” is a bourbon sour tinted rosy with grenadine, sprinkled with salt and made fragrant with sage. Gin, sparkling wine, lemon and strawberry comprise “La Fraise Sauvage,” a sweeter French 75.
And for dessert, a hamburger? Oui, with almond “bun,” chocolate ganache “patty,” strawberry-coulis “ketchup” and slice of apricot-jelly “cheese” ($12). Something so slyly faux-American could only be French.
L'Apéro, 81 Church St., Toronto, 416-363-0081.