Friday, December 5, 2008

52. Canada: Café du Lac - a taste of Québec

Café du Lac
2350 Lake Shore Blvd West
(West of Park Lawn)
416 848 7381

For the final restaurant in our weekly ethnic eats challenge we unearth a real gem in an unlikely setting. The Café du Lac has little in the way of local competition and it's clear that well-heeled boomers from nearby condos have been flocking here since it opened five months ago. There's free parking out front after six and it's easily accessible by street car. They host live music on alternate Fridays, and reservations highly recommended. We were greeted and seated promptly and our server offered to take our coats and hang them up.
We order drinks and a basket of gourmet bread, baked fresh daily by the chef, and herb butter arrives with them. The prix fixe menu option is a great deal at $30: Soup or Salad, Duck Trio (duck tourtière, stuffed duck and foie gras), and apple crumble. We choose starters from the list of varied and interesting options: French onion soup, $5; Tarte au tomate cerise [seen here] the garlic herb cream cheese is a perfect foil for the tangy cherry tomatoes, $8; Organic Greens Salad tossed with house vinaigrette, $7; Yukon Gold frites are surprisingly tasty, $5 . Our main courses are : Grilled salmon in virgin sauce with rustic potatoes (Peruvian Blue) and mixed vegetables, $22; the Chef's vegetarian pasta plate, $16 (certainly not your average plate of pasta). The house red, La Vielle Ferme, Cotes du Ventoux, is good value at $18 for a half litre. Tea, decaf & coffee are $2 a cup. Total cost $178.17 for five $205 with tip.
Marketing whiz and manager, Kathryn greeted regulars and newcomers with equal enthusiasm. Her husband Pierre, the chef, was introduced to us at the table and wondered what we thought of his new dish the duck trio.
Café du Lac has a clean, elegant interior with hardwood floors and tables. Tonight, arguably to make room for the musicians, tables are a bit too crowded in and temperature too warm for complete comfort. Over all a top notch restaurant - great food, good value.

Rating: Ambiance (3)
Service (4)
Food Presentation (4)
Food Quality (4)
Value for Money (4)


J said...

The worst service in a restaurant I have ever experienced. A fast food restaurant could serve food in a more caring fashion than these people.
It was during Winterlicious...where, one can only hope you are treated as well when paying half price than you are paying full price.
First, a woman identifying herself as an owner poured soup on a guests head and down the front of her blouse. Could have been a scalding, but the soup was warm at best. Secondly, appetizers coming a minute before dinner, uncooked "Black Cod". Someone else missed on an appetizer altogether.
Guest that's now wearing soup in her hair is told she can "drink wine for free". This is quite convenient be that the owner had been told we'd be leaving shortly.
My family has owned several fine dining restaurants in the Okanagan Valley region and I learned at a young age you must take responsibility for any mishaps. Taking responsibility separates you from the rest.
By the way, coffee at the end of dinner was only mentioned on our request.
The tip was "for our convenience added into the bill". Wasn't that nice of them?
Do not dine here! That's what Cafe du Lac stands for.

In this case we threw our money away. Hard working folk attempting to eat a meal that otherwise would not have been possible without a few sacrifices.
The owner failed at even the human test of making things right.

Move along I say, try another, there's enough of them.

Kathryn said...

As the owner, in question of Cafe du Lac, I would like to respond to this query. I did spill soup on this lady. It was a group of 12 people on a very, very busy night. I apologized profusely and took the lady immediately into the washroom and proceeded to wash her top and to wash her hair. We were both joking about it and I continued to apologize for this profusely.

At the time, the lady in question appeared to be fine with everything - telling me repeatedly it was allright. I offered her drinks all night and my staff and I continued to pour her drinks all night.

I cannot attest to the black cod, but as for our "human component" I stood up in a room full of people, apologized in front of them and did everything that I could in my power to rectify my mistake - which I am fully acknowledging. At that point, I was not too sure what else I could do. Nor am I now...since I owned up to it.

The early seating of Winterlicious participants are always advised at time of booking that they have 2 hours for dinner service from start to finish. Our policy is to include a tip for groups of 6 or more - (this was a group of 12)...always has been and always will be. That's how most "fine-dining" establishments do things.

Since we are always busy and apparently other people continue to flock to our restaurant to experience our excellent food and very welcoming relaxed environment, I'm going to allow that this was a one-off kind of mistake. I tried to rectify it, and clearly, based on this poster's blog, in their opinion, I didn't do a good job of it.

As the saying goes - you can't please everyone. I can live with that.

Annette said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Annette said...

When the Toronto Ethnic Eats Challenge group had dinner at the Cafe Du Lac in December 2008 we gave it the highest rating of the 52 restaurants we had visited.
Many of our family and friends have been there since and enjoyed excellent food and very good service.
To clarify - the comment posted, above, by J does not reflect the experiences and/or opinions of the owner of this blog.

Annette said...

Recieved this message from a friend:
just got back from our first visit to Cafe du Lac after a couple of years of planning to go - took Paul for his birthday and Emma came too. We all agreed it was one of the best restaurant meals we have ever had.Thought you would like to know that your recommendation was bang on perfect.