Levesque in Leslieville

It’s midweek at Edward Levesque’s Kitchen with my friend Brian, catching up.  This is my second visit.  The first in 2009, was my daughter’s idea.  Zoe has an expat’s appreciation of Toronto and a great network of arty friends telling her what’s good to see and hear and especially eat.  When she tells me to see a film I usually check it out.  E.L’s Kitchen was one of the places we hit before she left town, so it has nostalgia value.

How could I resist a restaurant in Leslieville?  Indeed, a former employee once presented me with a street-sign he’d somehow found (haha or stolen?) embossed with the characteristic “Leslieville” name.  I’d heard the area was being reinvented; Edward Levesque’s Kitchen seems to prove that the district has arrived.  Surely restaurants of such ambient quality can’t spring up in crappy neighbourhoods, can they?  There’s much to admire about the place, yet one can park for free in front after six p.m. because the neighbourhood is still understood to be residential. Talk about the best of both worlds!

The wine list is humongous but we both had beers to start while we chatted in the empty place, having arrived early.  We took a stroll to look at the pictures on the walls: sepia photos suggesting historical colour.

I did not pay much attention to Brian’s plate – duck breasts, sweet & sour winter vegetables & something else—because I was so thrilled by what was happening for me: a seared beef tenderloin.   And then instead of the mash potato, which might have been lovely considering the excellence of everything else we received tonight, I’d made a substitution.  Don’t you love it when they let you do that? i find it’s a naughty pleasure, although i will never be as high maintenance as Meg Ryan’s character with her salad + dressing on the side, in When Harry Met Sally (and yes it was in a restaurant that she did her fake orgasm thing).

Would you believe three additional sides?

  • side one: sweet & sour vegetables;
  • side two: brussel sprouts with double-smoked bacon in little cubes.
  • side three: a very edgy rapini, sautéed with garlic & peppers.

I like variety and contrast.  While the range of flavours I’ve described already sounds like a lot, I had the additional pleasure of a California Cabernet to gently complement the beef.  The menu is a tantalizing array of choices, roads I might have traveled and will yet visit in weeks to come, such as the sweet potato/ricotta gnocchi with gorgonzola & toasted walnuts, or the lobster & white asparagus risotto.

Afterwards Brian & I shared a stilton plate: cheeses, sliced fruits, walnuts, toasts and port shooters.  Wow.

The place became crowded later, but that didn’t hurt the service one bit.   I felt quite wonderful spending the evening in E.L.’s Kitchen reminiscing.

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