Toronto’s Best New Restaurants: La Banane
Brandon Olsen’s fried chicken was the star of the menu during his time at Bar Isabel, and it was why we stalked him at festivals and pop-ups. So you should know: he doesn’t fry birds at La Banane, but you should still breach the yellow door. He’s showing us his polished, Francophile white-linens-and-amuse-bouche side.
Not that La Banane is another rote bistro. It’s a lot more fun—like a year-round New Year’s Eve dinner party with flapper-era cocktails in fluted glasses, an ice-bed raw bar and a disco soundtrack. No surprise, perhaps, that the same guy who executed so many consistently crunchy thighs also crafts the city’s finest example of a pâté en croûte, with golden pastry encasing peppery duck-pork stuffing and a cap of wine gelée. He serves it with moutarde violette—a throwback technique of sweetening grainy mustard with grape must and clove.
Julia Child would approve of how he finishes his creamy crab and paella gratin in the crustacean’s shell, how he intensifies the plushness of raw scallop with garlicky buttermilk and leek oil, and how he achieves that extremely rare thing: a correct omelette—crisp exterior, nearly custardy within, timed to the microsecond. An omelette for dinner is one of the more peculiarly French traditions—really, another excuse to order caviar (for an extra $80). Although La Banane is terrific, we’ll have to wait and see if it catches on like Olsen’s original poultry feat.
227 Ossington Ave., 416-551-6263, labanane.ca