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Food & Drink

What’s on the menu at La Banane, Brandon Olsen’s fancy, French-inspired restaurant on Ossington

By Renée Suen| Photography by Renée Suen
What's on the menu at La Banane, Brandon Olsen's fancy, French-inspired restaurant on Ossington

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Name: La Banane Neighbourhood: Trinity Bellwoods Contact: 227 Ossington Ave., 416-551-6263, labanane.ca, @labananeresto
Previously: The Saint Owners: Bradon Olsen (CXBO, Bar Isabel, The Black Hoof) in partnership with King Street Food Company Chef: Brandon Olsen and Basilio Pesce (Biff’s, Porzia, Cheese Boutique)

The food

A smattering of classic French dishes, like a fluffy omelette, as well as some with Olsen’s own twists, including his take on liver and onions. “This is the food that I want to eat,” Olsen says. “I want to be here for the next 25 years.” For dessert: the "Ziggy Stardust Disco Egg,” a chocolate egg embedded with apricots, ancho chilies and coffee beans, and filled with hand-rolled Peruvian dark chocolate truffles. The limited-availability creation from Olsen’s CXBO line is like a Kinder Egg for grown-ups.

Shrimp cocktail, with gulf shrimp from Honest Weight. $18.
Shrimp cocktail, with gulf shrimp from Honest Weight. $18.

 

Plump mussels from Honest Weight marinated in an espelette pepper vinaigrette. $14.
Plump mussels from Honest Weight marinated in an espelette pepper vinaigrette. $14.

 

A classic French omelette with a shower of fine herbs. $15. (For an extra $80 they'll throw in 30 grams of caviar.)
A classic French omelette with a shower of fine herbs. $15. (For an extra $80 they’ll throw in 30 grams of caviar.)

 

Liver and onions: chicken liver mousse with cippolini onions and hen-of-the-woods mushrooms. $15.
Liver and onions: chicken liver mousse with cippolini onions and hen of the woods mushrooms. $15.

 

Duck breast with charred endive and jus. $28.
Duck breast with charred endive and jus. $28.

 

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Another shot of the duck, mid-jus drizzle.
Another shot of the duck, mid-jus drizzle.

 

The stunning European seabass en croute is first presented at the table, then taken back to the kitchen where it's portioned and sided with zucchini. It's finished table side with a drizzle of yuzu beurre monté. $32.
The stunning European sea bass en croute is first presented at the table, then taken back to the kitchen where it’s portioned and sided with zucchini. It’s finished tableside with a drizzle of yuzu beurre monté. $32.

 

The raw bar is stocked with shellfish, much of it from Honest Weight and Hooked. Market-priced seafood towers are also available.
The raw bar is stocked with shellfish, much of it from Honest Weight and Hooked. Market-price seafood towers are also available.

 

Here's a closer look.
Here’s a closer look.
The drinks

Besides wine, beer and cider, head bartender Christopher Weaver (Momofuku, Skin and Bones) mixes up revamped classic cocktails and house specialities, which will always include a banana-based number (currently it’s La Banane Royale made with dark rum, banana, cream and egg). Also on the drink menu: low-proof and virgin cocktails.  

The Charlie Chaplin, one of Olsen’s favourite classics, uses Sloe gin, cherry liqueur and lime juice. $14.
The Charlie Chaplin, one of Olsen’s favourite classics, uses sloe gin, cherry liqueur and lime juice. $14.

 

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The Maestro: white rum, Lillet Blanc, green Chartreuse and lime juice. $13.
The Maestro: white rum, Lillet Blanc, green Chartreuse and lime juice. $13.

 

Piña colada: rum, pineapple, coconut, milk. $14.
Piña colada: rum, pineapple, coconut, milk. $14.

 

The Bambú: a balanced blend of Pacharán, Amontillado, and Fino Sherry. $12.
The Bambú: Pacharan with amontillado and fino sherries. $12.

 

Weaver mixes up a Bambú.
Weaver mixes up a Bambú.
The space

The 80-seat restaurant is split into three areas: a front “garden” room with marble tables and booth seating, a “brasserie” with a raw bar and snazzy banquettes, and the rear salon. Each area is decorated with brass finishes, original artwork and antiques, like vintage glassware, from Olsen’s own collection.

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Olsen and Keenlyside loaned art pieces from their own collection, including this pair of Douglas Couplands and one by Talia Shipman in the back dining room.
Olsen and Keenlyside loaned art pieces from their own collection, including this pair of Douglas Couplands and one by Talia Shipman in the back dining room.

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