Introducing: Le Kensington, the new French bistro from the owners of Loire

Introducing: Le Kensington, the new French bistro from the owners of Loire

(Image: Karolyne Ellacott)

Le Kensington Bistro, the second eatery from the owners of Harbord Street’s Loire (one of 2009’s best new restaurants), recently opened in the space that used to house La Palette, the market’s original French bistro (La Palette decamped to Queen Street last year). Owners Sylvain Brissonnet—who spent a decade as the sommelier of Langdon Hall—and Jean-Charles Dupoire—who put in hours at both The Savoy and The Berkeley in London—purchased the spot at the start of the year but were bogged down with lengthy renovations. Brissonnet tells us the pair “really wanted to do something very French” and are keeping the focus on their homeland’s cuisine.

The two Frenchmen met at daycare in the Loire Valley at the ripe old age of three and have been friends ever since, working together much of the time. With Brissonnet in the front of house as the sommelier and Dupoire in the back with the food, “it’s a good marriage–we don’t step on each other’s toes,” the former notes. The convivial new space, with rust-coloured walls dotted with prints of Kensington’s early days, seats about 30. At the front, French windows open out onto the street, letting some of the area’s energy spill in.

The bistro’s specialty is the rotisserie chicken paired with ratatouille, succotash or frites and available for either dining in or takeout (whole $32, half $16). Duck and other birds are in the works for the future. Brissonnet suggests pairing the meal with either a local pinot or a blend from the Rhône Valley. Their charcuterie—all made in-house—also comes recommended, with Brissonnet particularly touting the rillettes. Vegetarians aren’t completely ignored, thanks to the inclusion of a veggie crêpe filled with goat cheese, mushroom and red pepper ($19). A lavender and honey crème brûlée ($9)—with meringue biscuits and a couple of blueberries—is a gentle twist on the classic French dessert.

Le Kensington Bistro and Rotisserie, 256 Augusta Ave., 416-792-9440,