Introducing: Colette Grand Café, the palatial new French restaurant in the Thompson Hotel
Name: Colette Grand Café and Bakery
Contact Info: 550 Wellington St. W., 647-348-7000, colettetoronto.com, @colettetoronto
Neighbourhood: King West
Previously: Scarpetta, celebrity chef Scott Conant’s short-lived Italian restaurant
Owner: The Chase Hospitality Group (headed by president Steven Salm), which is also behind The Chase, The Chase Fish and Oyster, and soon-to-open Little Fin
Chefs: Executive Chef Michael Steh, chef de cuisine Matthew Swift and executive pastry chef Leslie Steh
The Food: The restaurant’s modern French dishes are sophisticated, polished and pretty. Starters include lobster vichyssoise and frog-leg lollipops with pea purée. Other items are meant for sharing, like a whole roasted bass wrapped in sliced potatoes and an elaborate green-curry crab dish with baguette and grilled-pork terrine. During the day, the casual bakery-café serves sandwiches, snacks and buttery viennoiseries (and, of course, a selection of macarons).
The Drinks: Sommelier Jay Whiteley (from the award-winning Hawksworth Restaurant in Vancouver) devised the mainly French wine list, which focuses on bottles from Burgundy and Champagne.
The Place: The former Scarpetta space—now divided into a bakery-café, a lounge and a formal dining room—was remodeled by the same firm behind The Chase and The Chase Fish and Oyster. Colette exudes a similar kind of breezy luxury, but with a few French-country touches (barrel-vaulted ceilings, hand-painted tiles, lots of blues and yellows). There’s a covered terrace and a long outdoor pavilion running alongside the hotel’s courtyard pool.