Where to eat lunch this week: Holts Café

Where to eat lunch this week: Holts Café

With bread flown in from Paris, this Yorkville institution creates authentic French tartines that are worth the $15 price tag

(Images: Renée Suen)

The place: Bloor-facing windows flood the room with light and make this a perfect spot for people-watching while sipping on cocktails. The long, loungey room oozes modern chic, with soft greys and bright splashes of red from leather chairs.

The crowd: Couples on cozy couches, Yorkville ladies flanked by pink Holts bags and suits discussing the mayoral race.

The deal: The day’s fish and chips special is popular, but we go for the signature tartines ($15 each)—open-faced sandwiches, made with the famed Poilâne bread that Holts flies in from Paris three times a week.

The dish: The tartine is brunch-like, with its layers of sautéed mushrooms, perfectly poached eggs, oven-roasted tomatoes and Kristapsons’ smoked salmon. The storied bread lives up to its reputation: the dense, butter-kissed crust has a hearty, smoky flavour. Crowned with a tumble of delicate mâche and served with a little tray of spices (Himalayan sea salt, Italian herbs and cracked pepper), this tartine is worth a walk up Bay Street. The grand finale lemon tart ($9) is delicate, tangy and excellent with a cup of Mariage Frères’ aromatic Marco Polo tea ($3).

The time: Without a reservation, our drop-in lunch totals 72 minutes, 15 of which are spent browsing Blahniks and Lanvins while waiting for a table.

The cost: $41, including taxes, tip and a bottle of Voss sparkling mineral water ($4).

Holts Café, mezzanine level, 50 Bloor St. W. (at Bay), 416-960-7817, official Web site.