Just Opened: Le Papillon finally alights at Jonathan Ashbridge Park
According to Paul and Danielle Bigué, it was a sign from God that convinced them to convert a 90-year-old house on Eastern Avenue into what is now Le Papillon on the Park. The owners of what used to be Le Papillon—Church Street’s former French and Québécois mainstay—were charmed by the property’s park-side location and boat-building workshop, but the kicker came when Danielle spotted a worn, leftover sign atop a door frame that read “Montreal.” She’s only slightly sarcastic in deeming it divine intervention.
Settling in next to Jonathan Ashbridge Park in the east end, Paul, Danielle and their son, Stéphane, have gone bigger (the new venue seats 256 total, as opposed to 225 on Church Street) and more Québécois. After an amicable split with former partner Sandra Kane, who opened Le Papillon on Front last year, Danielle saw an opportunity to infuse the new menu with some of the French-Canadian fare that she grew up on. The authentic Québécois sugar pie known as pouding chômeur (poor man’s pudding, $6) will be served, as will oreilles de crisses (Christ’s ears, $5.95)—basically deep-fried pork jowls. “You don’t have to have it if you don’t want,” Danielle tells us. “But they’re there.” Of course, the comfort food that made Le Papillon popular will still be served: French onion soup ($7.95), steak au poivre ($25) and crêpes ($10.95–$15), all cooked in a kitchen headed by chef Roman Malik, a veteran of the Church Street location.
City bureaucracy and red tape delayed the restaurant’s opening, keeping Papillon fans waiting nearly a year. They’re now joining up with beach-dwelling retirees and Leslieville hipsters in an ambience that is a mix of old and new (sleek track lighting illuminates venerable pine tabletops, taken from the floor joists of the old house) and a hybrid of Québécois and NYC styles (stone walls and homey fireplaces rub elbows with slick concrete floors and a high, loft-style ceiling). The Bigués tell us that there’s just one final touch they’d like to add: Danielle wants to clean up and polish that old “Montreal” sign and put it on the wall.
Le Papillon on the Park, 1001 Eastern Ave. (at Woodfield Rd.), 416-649-1001, lepapillonpark.com.