Where to eat lunch this week: Loire

Where to eat lunch this week: Loire

The French dishes at this Harbord Street restaurant stun as much at lunch as they do at dinner

(Images: Renée Suen) 

The place: This south Annex gem promises gourmet bistro fare both noon and night, but there’s extra incentive in the summer: Loire’s breezy canopy-covered terrace.

The crowd: Neighbourhood regulars, golf shirt-clad businessmen, university professors and administrators playing hooky.

The deal: The midday menu of French-inspired comfort foods may be priced the same as it is at dinner, but the selections are excellently matched with the time of day.

The meal: For apps, we alternate between bites of rich pistachio-crusted goat cheese cake ($13) and a refreshing half-dozen Merigomish oysters ($19) from Rodney’s. The former is juxtaposed by an antipasto medley over tart mixed greens; the latter is served with a basil-horseradish mignonette. On to the mains: golden slices of Harbord Bakery’s challah hold brie, tomato jam and succulent lamb burger ($18). The house-made pappardelle pasta ($16) mingles with poached egg yolk, sautéed spinach and king oyster mushrooms. Plenty of room is left for a generous trio of homemade cassis, strawberry and lemon sorbets ($10) topped with a tumble of the season’s sweetest strawberries.

The time: A well-paced 53-minute escape from the city’s hustle and bustle.

The cost: $114 for two, including tax and tip.

Loire Casual Gourmet, 119 Harbord St. (at Major St), 416-850-8330, loirerestaurant.ca.