On the edge of Leslieville, Le Rossignol French Bistro had been busy turning over what used to be Pop Bistro’s space. Every time I passed by on the street car, I would eye the progress being made. They finally opened at the end of November and I quickly pounced with a conveniently-timed coupon from one of the many daily-deal sites that abound. With the cold hammering away on all fronts, what better than some comforting classic French dishes to fight off the chill?

Not long after I settled in at my table, an amuse came out from the kitchen. It was a butternut squash soup with coconut foam and the scent of five-spice wafting up from the toasty ceramic shot-glass. A lovely and delicious way to warm up.

Up next: a hot bowl of French onion soup; not too salty and a with a really nice onion base. Islands of floating toasted crisps were tangled in a mess of stringy melted cheese. It was a hefty portion of soup – good for sharing. Of course, I ate it all by myself.

With just one stomach and two mains to go, the kitchen clearly thought I hadn’t ordered enough. And so a toasted crisp with a quenelle of duck terrine on it was placed in front of me. A jaunty cap of pork skin topped it off. Meaty and a little vinegary, this mouthful was a nice way to perk up the taste buds. This could have been because they’d noticed the camera by then.

Straying from my “classic French” theme, I couldn’t resist and got the house-made pasta of the night: linguine with pulled-boar, mushrooms, and laced with truffle-oil. Rich and delicious, this was a deceptively large portion of pasta (about 2x what you see) due to the plate being more bowl-like than you’d think. Very filling and worth a try if they still have it on the menu.

Suffice it to say, I was pretty full at this point. And what’s next? Cassoulet. It landed on the table, and this lovely plate of beans, half-sausage, and two confit duck legs just mocked me. The peanut gallery of lardons laughed. I tried valiantly, but I got through half a leg, a slice of sausage, and a few spoonfuls of beans before I called it quits. Though I had known before I placed my order that most of this was slated for lunch the next day, I felt I should have done the dish more justice as it was sitting in front of me. The cassoulet did make for tasty leftovers, however.

I had a glazed look in my eyes as the waitress bustled on over to enquire if I wanted dessert. But of course!

I opted for a pot de crème trio (it’s small, right?) in berry, mango, and apple (left to right). The mango was light and delicious, and not as mangoey as it could have been – to its credit. The berry (cassis, I think), in contrast, was quite strong and worked well. The texture was a bit grainy though. I’d have opted to pass on the apple in the end, given that I had no room in my stomach. Not even the pot of loose-leaf tea (earl grey. hot.), strong and black, could do much for me.

All in all, Le Rossignol is a promising new neighbourhood place I’d return to sometime. Added atmospheric bonus is the fact that French gets bandied about between the front-of-house and kitchen. And on a cold wintry night, there’s nothing more satisfying than classic French cuisine to fuel and fortify a body against the chill. Of course, I was a glutton and went way beyond just-full. But I certainly didn’t feel the cold after my meal!

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More at Le Rossignol

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