What’s on the menu at Bouffe, chef David Adjey’s new French kitchen on Dundas West

What’s on the menu at Bouffe, chef David Adjey’s new French kitchen on Dundas West

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Name: Bouffe
Contact: 1173 Dundas St. W., @bouffe_toronto
Neighbourhood: Trinity Bellwoods
Previously: Camp 4
Chef-owner: David Adjey
Accessibility: Not fully accessible

The food

“In the golden years of my career, I want to cook only food I like to eat. To me, that’s French food,” says David Adjey. “I wanted a small restaurant where I could actually cook everyone’s food myself.” The chef’s rollicking reputation and prominent media career may precede him, but this project is pure heart. And it’s no in-name-only celebrity chef joint: on any given night, you’ll find Adjey in the kitchen in his chef’s whites.

Chef-owner David Adjey, doing what he loves

The food is classic French—novel-length ingredient lists and all—though Adjey ups the whimsy with creative plating and touches of Canadiana, like a poutine made with duck confit. Think gorgeous, orange zest–infused bouillabaisse, Canadian prime steak burnished with a four-day demi-glace, and of course, escargot, here encased in vol au vent and finished with vivid bordelaise.

This is refined, cheerfully unironic fare from a chef who—having been everywhere and done it all—is rediscovering the simple joy of running the pass at his own restaurant.

Charcuterie mise en place

 

And the finished product. Bouffe’s charcuterie board is a greatest hits tour of French and Québécois specialties. Left to right, we have: buttered croutons, Rosette de Lyon (Lyon’s most famous black pepper cured pork sausage), cognac-infused chicken liver parfait dusted with toasted ground pistachio, Quebec’s delectable Bleu d’Elizabeth, nutty Morbier from the eponymous village in eastern France, buttery Bête a Seguin from Quebec, and Jambon de Bayonne from the ancient port city in southwestern France. It’s all topped with breadsticks and served with grainy mustard and cornichons. $31

 

Among Adjey’s pet peeves are large round oyster platters that take up all the space on a table. And so, his Atlantic oysters come in repurposed terrine molds, which leave ample real estate for other tasty appetizers. The fresh crustaceans are served with fresh horseradish, red wine vinegar and shallot mignonette, hot sauce, and lemon wedges. $38 for a dozen, $19 for the half-dozen pictured here

 

Here we have a crisp endive and watercress salad with beet threads, honeyed walnuts, Blue d’Elizabeth cheese, and red wine–poached pears. Dress it to your liking with a punchy lemon vinaigrette. $19

 

Adjey takes no small measure of delight in the idea that, according to poutine’s dominant creation myth, the word derives from Québécois slang for “unholy mess.” “The perfect time and place to eat poutine is at 3:47 a.m. in Montreal,” he says. “If you’re not stumbling on your way to the poutine truck, you’re not doing it right.” Notwithstanding that, this scrumptious take features duck confit with a bevy of warming spices, like clove, mace and nutmeg. The fries are loaded with a luscious four-day beef demi-glace and, of course, squeaky Quebec cheese curds. It’s then topped with tomato concasse for some summery freshness. $22

 

This traditional Parisian tartare doesn’t skimp on ingredients. Gorgeous filet is laced with shallot, dijon, chive, parsley, cognac, gherkins, capers and tabasco. It’s topped with a quail yolk—which yields just enough creaminess to spread about—and a scoop of chicken liver pâté, which you’re meant to smear on the buttered croutons. $25

 

In the ultimate spring comfort dish, crêpes made with pea-infused milk envelop a creamy Mornay sauce, chicken breast, tarragon and petit pois. The breast is poached sous vide in aromatic Noilly Prat vermouth, which yields super tender, almost silky meat. $29

 

If you try to open a classic French restaurant without escargots, we’re pretty sure someone will call the authorities. Here, the snails are encased in flaky vol-au-vent puff pastry and combined with sous-vide garlic confit, adorable button morels and little spheres of cucumber that cut the richness. They’re finished with bordelaise, a deep, heady bordeaux-and-bone-marrow reduction. $22
An amber concoction well on its way to becoming bouillabaisse

 

One of Adjey’s greatest hits is the bouillabaisse Marseillase, a complex affair that takes two days to make. Among the items suffused in the liquid base are leek, tomato, saffron, thyme, orange and lemon zest, shrimp, and snapper. The seafood in the finished dish rotates according to what’s available: this version has shrimp, scallop, sea bass and crab. It’s finished with grilled baguette brushed with olive oil, fennel fronds, lobster oil and a daffodil-hued saffron rouille. $39

 

Like any steak frites worth its pepper, the protein is the star: here we have Canadian prime beef, grass fed and finished with corn for good marbling. Underneath the steak, crispy croutons catch its savoury juices. It’s topped with Café de Paris butter, the quintessential steak compound butter made with a laundry list of ingredients: among them dijon, marjoram, anchovies, garlic, brandy, madeira, and orange zest. It comes with a luscious demi-glace, frites, and house mayo. $44

 

A whole spread

 

The drinks

It probably goes without saying, but the wine list is exclusively French: this is the place to go for bordeaux, burgundy and champagne. Speaking of bubbles, there’s a fun champagne-based cocktail program peppered with house-made syrups and infusions, as in a lovely floral French 75 that incorporates fresh lavender syrup. If you’re not into bubbly, the bar is well-equipped to make your favourite classic cocktail.

The sweet and tart Blackberry Bubbles is a refreshing champagne-based tipple enhanced with house-made elderberry syrup and black pepper. $18

 

An easy standout in Bouffe’s happy family of champagne cocktails is the lavender French 75. This floral, summery sip—which pairs beautifully with oysters—includes house lavender syrup, violet-hued Empress gin infused with pea blossoms, and of course, bubbly. $16

 

The Earl Grey Sparkle pairs bergamot-laced Earl Grey syrup with champagne and lemon juice. Try it with the lobster croquettes or steak tartare

 

The space

Adjey wanted the space to feel like an out-of-the-way Parisian cafe, with a subdued colour palette (barring some splashy acrylic art) and relaxed, clean-cut aesthetic. The small room, while hardly resembling the riotous bar of its past life, retains its intimate feel.

Adjey (centre) and his team