The beloved neighbourhood watering hole Barrio shuttered its French doors last summer, and hungry Leslievillers have been gazing at the space longingly ever since. Well, no longer. Richard Henry, the proprietor of Le Rossignol, a few blocks west, has opened up his newest venture, Le Canard Mort. “They closed the place on Saturday and I put an offer in on Monday,” Henry told us. “I had to move fast since there was a lot of interest in it—the Ruby Watch Co. people were down here looking.”
Whereas Le Rossignol is a traditional bistro, Le Canard is more of a bar, with 150 classic cocktails on their list. In the fresh, 48-seat space, Henry has kept the original Barrio layout, making only cosmetic changes—a palette of silver-grey, taupe, tin and steel. The anticipation for the space was so great that it’s been slammed from day one—even without proper lighting or a sign.
Part of the credit for the response must go to the 24-year-old chef Craig Madore, a Windsor native and recent graduate of the George Brown Chef School. Madore worked at the Royal Canadian Yacht Club for three years, where he met chef Jeremie Seguinot, who brought him over to Le Rossignol (Seguinot has since moved on). Le Canard’s 31-item menu is reasonably priced and offers both bar bites, like the toasted spiced nuts ($6), and more filling mains, like chicken cordon bleu ($21) with raclette, Niagara prosciutto and horseradish mashed potatoes. “I wanted to do fun pub food with a French twist, by using better ingredients from the best suppliers and cooking from my heart,” he says. Case in point: the whimsical veal sweetbreads, Buffalo wing–style with a quenelle of blue cheese aioli and a play on carrot and celery sticks. The dinner and bar service will be joined by lunch and brunch, which will be offered later this month.
For Henry, however, the focus is on the drinks menu. “I love the cocktail culture of the ’20s and ’30s,” he says. “It was such a great, elegant era for drinking—prohibition and speakeasies.” Bartender Emily Schulze (Uva and the Four Seasons in Vancouver) is a cocktail purist and master of each of the 150 concoctions on the list. All juices are freshly squeezed, and Schulze promises she’ll be making her own syrups, fruit purées and grenadine soon too.
Le Canard Mort, 896 Queen St. E., 416-625-2653, lecanardmort.ca.