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Food & Drink

Go to Pastis: Drawing inspiration from a Toronto dining fixture

When I first came back to Toronto, I met a fridge mechanic—“a good guy to know, and the best in the city,” testified my friend Johan of Goed Eten in Kensington Market. The mechanic looked at me with pity, the way everyone does when they find out I am opening a restaurant, but he also gave me some advice: “Go to Pastis.” Then, in the span of a few days, my dad and a good friend both said the same thing: “Go to Pastis.” So I went. And they were right. The place is the real deal.

It was Tuesday night and Pastis was packed. People were even eating at the bar. The owner/maitre d’ went around the place, effortlessly, instinctively, making everyone there feel as if they were the only people in the room. The menu reads like a greatest-hits album of French cuisine: confit, steak frites, escargot ravioli, sardines, tomato salad. Pastis has tempo and movement, and everybody looks happy. The food even tastes happy—like each dish has its moment. You can tell it is made by a chef who likes his job, who likes what he is cooking, who is not too overloaded to give each meal a special touch. It’s something you just feel. And that’s how it should be. I believe in giving food feeling.

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