What’s on the menu at Parquet, a fancy new French bistro on Harbord
Contact info: 97 Harbord St., 416-922-2345, @restaurantparquet
Neighbourhood: Harbord Village
Owners: Daniel Bernstein and Matt Cohen
Chef: Jeremy Dennis (Woodlot, Burdock Brewery, Chantecler)
Law school buds slash restaurateurs Daniel Bernstein and Matt Cohen bonded over their shared passion for dining out and hope to inspire the same joie de vivre in Toronto diners with their new French bistro. Parquet is a welcome addition to Harbord’s burgeoning restaurant scene—it joins the likes of Dreyfus, Yasu, Piano Piano and Rasa. The cozy yet elegant space subtly hints at vibey modern French bistros, like New York’s Pastis, or the warmly lit, wood-filled spaces one imagines taking refuge in on a rainy Paris night.
The restaurant is named for the parquet flooring that originally appeared in French châteaux in the 16th century and later showed up in the rental apartments Bernstein and Cohen lived in during school. The name is also a reference to the intricate components that harmoniously combine to fill the space: the duo hopes to draw together a disparate collection of people, skills, flavours and recipes to delight their guests.
The menu features casual French-inspired dishes with flashes of Toronto’s many flavours and locally grown produce. For example, a rich and meaty cassoulet chock full of white beans slow-cooked in a ramen broth made from Linton Pasture pork, or lobster agnolotti in a classic bisque, or broccolini sauced with salsa macha.
Careful not to over-intellectualize the drinks, George Fellows (Bar Isabel) has designed a cocktails card that features a handful of thoughtful creations that are pleasantly surprising versions of the classics. The Captive of the Sun—a bright blend of rum, Campari, Strega, lime and pineapple gomme—is Fellows’s answer to the Jungle Bird, served “up” (chilled but without ice in the glass) rather than on the rocks. The wine program, designed by sommelier and manager Lexi Wolkowski (Harbord Room, Bar Isabel, Brothers), includes many wines from the dense Loire region as well as some unsung heroes like Movia’s Turno Malval, a fruity and unfiltered white from Slovenia.
The moody room is filled with soft light, warm wood and cushy, leather-wrapped banquettes that seem beautifully pre-weathered. The heart of the space is the marble bar lined with cozy leather stools. From here, one can watch the buzz and bustle of the restaurant reflected in the mirror-lined walls. It’s the perfect spot for eavesdropping, oysters and maybe even a little amour.