It is hot outside. I usually love heat, but we ate a lot of meat earlier today for lunch (BBQ). So, I have meat sweats. I also have real sweat. I have all kinds of sweat. I took a second shower today when we got home from dinner to rid myself of all this sweat. All this disgustingness aside, JH and I went to dinner at the cutest place tonight – Cafe Cancan located on 89 Harbord (where the wonderful Harbord Room used to be). I wanted to enjoy the place and meal a bit more, but we really were too full. When we checked out, even the waitress commented that we looked like we had a bit of ‘itis’. However, we tried to make the most out of the circumstances as we could.
Cafe Cancan is a French bistro, owned by the same chef as Piano Piano across the street – Victor Barry (who was also the chef of the splendid Splendido). This restaurant is seriously an Instagrammer’s dream. There are little pops of pink, turquoise, black-and-white stripes, white-stringed lights outside, kitschy pink water glasses, and all these cute little details. Because it was so nice outside, JH and I ate outside (as did everyone else). Apparently, there was a 1.5 hour wait for the patio, but luckily we had made an early reservation.
The menu is pretty substantial, so we asked the waitress for recommendations.
JH knew already that he wanted to order the milk bun burger (an homage of sorts to the infamous Harbord Room burger – which at one point was one of the best burgers in Toronto). She made a lot of recommendations, but we ended up going with:
- Seared Foie Gras ($29) – with roasted pineapple and ginger vanilla jus. The plate looked really good. It was a small portion (as foie gras usually is). I enjoyed the roasted pineapple, but I did not taste ginger or vanilla. It was still really hearty and delicious though. This was a good start.
- Barry’s Burger ($22) – This was a double patty burger on a really good milk bun with pickles and cheese. It came with frites and a mayo remoulade. It was a delicious burger primarily because of the bun. However, the meat had a good char. We also both liked the mayo that came with the fries. It had a bit of bite / tang.
- Duck Confit ($22) – The duck confit was cooked well with an extra crispy skin. It sat on a bed of apples, grapes, endive, cauliflower (which tasted pickled), big leaves of parsley, and some sort of cream sauce. Looking back at the menu, it may have been hazelnut?
- We liked the burger more. While the crispy skin on the duck was really good, nothing about the dish really popped from a taste perspective. Even with all the fruits and vegetables, it also still felt very heavy. Mind you, we were saturated.
Service-wise, our server was a bit abrupt at first (almost a “let’s get this over with” kind of feel). But then, throughout the service, she softened and smiled. She gave us a bunch of recommendations at the start, and was very attentive with water and making sure we were okay with the food. She folded our napkins when we went to the bathroom. I think she did a great job since she was covering the entire patio (about 6-7 tables – there were no customers inside).
The other issue we had is that service staff took garbage out in front of us on the patio to somewhere behind the patio fence. One of the staff actually had two boxes of garbage / recycling in each arms. When he had to open the gate and take one out, he left one box of garbage across the way from us for a few seconds. While it did not bother us that much, I have never seen this before. This process is usually hidden away from customers.
Finally, the benches on the patio could have used some wiping. We understand that there is debris from wind / rain, etc, but it probably would have taken a few minutes just to wipe the benches down of leaves and dead bugs. The women in the table next to us sat on their napkins.
Other little details:
- Parking – We walked but there is ample Green P parking along Harbord.
- There is no dress code.
- The music rotated back and forth between old-time bluesy songs and light electronic.
- The restaurant is well lit at the front; a bit darker in the back (and there is also a private table with a curtain near the back of the bar). The patio has about 6-7 tables.
- We got there at 5:30PM, and left shortly after 6:20PM. The patio was full, and our table was the only available table when we left.
- We made a reservation on OpenTable.
- JH paid with credit.
- Social Media – Instagram