Introducing: Le Rossignol, a restaurant that might kick off Queen East’s French revolution

Introducing: Le Rossignol, a restaurant that might kick off Queen East’s French revolution

Chef Seguinot’s seared wild Pacific salmon with rapini, lima beans and a saffron jus (Image: Signe Langford) 

No need to Google it; we’ll just tell you: le rossignol is French for “nightingale.” It’s the name of the new Gallic restaurant that’s slipping into the old Pop Bistro space on Queen East. It’s also a mistake. “I love Edith Piaf,” explains the new owner, Richard Henry, “and I thought her nickname was The Nightingale. I was wrong. It’s The Sparrow, but it was too late, and anyway, we liked this better.”

The first-time restaurateur and former arts administrator had always dreamed of owning a bar, and when he saw that Pop was up for grabs, he jumped on it. “I fell in love with the patio out back; that’s why I bought the place. It’s got stone walls and two trees. It feels just like Old Montreal or Europe.”

His chef, Jeremie Seguinot, should feel right at home, then. The 37-year-old chef was born in France and came to Canada as a child. His menu reflects both countries, featuring French bistro classics—frisée salad ($9), escargots ($9), moules frites ($17) and cassoulet ($19)—and a few Canadian ingredients, like wild boar shank ($24) and elk tenderloin ($27). Seguinot has cooked under one of this city’s best French chefs, Didier LeRoy, back in the Azalea days, and one of its wildest, David Adjey at Nectar. He’s even put in some time in France (Le Lieu Unique) and in Montreal (Tsirco).  “I demo’ed this place and helped build it. I’ve never been this involved in a restaurant before, and it’s a really good feeling.”

It better be, since he’s about to get much busier. Henry is presently preparing a sister restaurant, Le Canard Mort, a couple of blocks away in the old Barrio location. “I’ll be heading that menu up, too, and it’s going to be French gastro-pub,” says Seguinot. Henry chimes in, “With a really great menu of vintage cocktails. Barrio is closer to what I dreamed about.”

Le Rossignol, 686 Queen St. E., 416-461-9663,