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Carens Rosedale

1118 Yonge St.
TorontoON
 
(647) 503-5122
Real Time Reservations
 
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About
Caren’s Rosedale is an elegant French Bistro with a relaxed formal atmosphere. Chef David Nganga is at the helm delivering authentic French classics and daily specials with a Parisian influence. Favourite à la carte items from Caren’s Wine and Cheese Bar in Yorkville have migrated to the midtown location, complementing and blending with the new menu. Libations include a notable wine list that pairs with globally inspired cheese plates and charcuterie boards on offer, fresh creations, classic cocktails, as well as an array of bubbles and beer. The chic contemporary setting is perfect for a romantic evening, dinner with your family or a night of cocktails with your friends at the bar. The grand piano and live music add flare and fun to this prime Rosedale location. Larger...
Caren’s Rosedale is an elegant French Bistro with a relaxed formal atmosphere. Chef David Nganga is at the helm delivering authentic French classics and daily specials with a Parisian influence. Favourite à la carte items from Caren’s Wine and Cheese Bar in Yorkville have migrated to the midtown location, complementing and blending with the new menu. Libations include a notable wine list that pairs with globally inspired cheese plates and charcuterie boards on offer, fresh creations, classic cocktails, as well as an array of bubbles and beer. The chic contemporary setting is perfect for a romantic evening, dinner with your family or a night of cocktails with your friends at the bar. The grand piano and live music add flare and fun to this prime Rosedale location. Larger groups are easily accommodated in the semi-private main floor space. Daily lunch and weekend brunch are quickly becoming a local favorite.
Events
Today
  • Enjoy Jazz Pianist Patrick Hewan, starting at 7:30pm
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Review: Second place

 
By Alan A. Vernon, reviewed on October 08, 2015

A smartly appointed French bistro with above average food is typically a crowd-pleaser. And most would agree that with the throngs filling Carens Rosedale at dinner time, not to mention the deafening noise levels, the swish new boîte is a resounding success. Yet I...

A smartly appointed French bistro with above average food is typically a crowd-pleaser. And most would agree that with the throngs filling Carens Rosedale at dinner time, not to mention the deafening noise levels, the swish new boîte is a resounding success. Yet I am disappointed, and not just because my ears are still ringing hours after my departure.


The transformation of the former Le Petit Castor is dramatic, one that would not offend any aesthetic sensibility. A capable front-of-house manager and affable wait staff make it all the more pleasant. But intuition tells me something is amiss behind the scenes. Staff is friendly and accommodating, yet for some reason no one is prepared for dinner service until well after 4pm (the time posted on the website), 4:30pm (the time the house manager says they did open), and 5pm (the time the house manager says they now open). Tables aren't set, candles aren't lit, glasses aren't wiped. And this is owner Karen Walters' second restaurant. I expect more polish put into the process of opening a second locale. But lucky for her, the location, location, location, smack dab in the middle of monied Rosedale, pretty much ensures a triumph. I mean, Le Petit Castor was in the same spot for years, and the food sucked from the day it opened its doors.


The menu is a pretty straight forward rip-off of NYC mainstay Balthazar. But even simple classic bistro fare needs a skillful hand at the helm. The first indication that this is not the case was the arrival of a half-dozen French Kiss oysters ($1 each). Nothing was wrong with these sharply briny New Brunswick mollusks. Quite worrisome, however, is that someone in the kitchen thinks it's okay to plate them on a tray filled with half-melted ice cubes. I mean the shells were practically floating on water. With neither a sign of seaweed nor barely a lemon wedge to squeeze, it is upsetting that even a mignonette was nixed. But for an extra buck you can get one. Not kidding.


What follows has me absolutely convinced this kitchen is on auto-pilot. A salad Lyonnaise ($15) has all the requisite ingredients: frisée (though very little of it), lardons, poached egg and grilled baguette. But it's one sloppy looking mess. Firstly, the plate is so small, half the salad ends up on the table. Second, the eggs are so poorly poached it's a white stringy mess of protein. And don't get me started on what is perhaps the worst French stick that's ever passed these carb-addicted lips.


Then, like a superhero to the rescue, in walks Didier Leroy. Between bites of a nicely tangy but teensy steak tartare ($19; and fyi, for the same price, Cafe Boulud's is far superior), Leroy, just back from Nice, saunters in for a hush hush chat with the owner. If that isn't enough to convince me that Carens is in between chefs, then that embarrassingly puny portion of raw meat does. Yet somehow, these same amateurs managed to deliver on of the most flavourful steak frites ($26) eaten in eons, even if les taters in a pomme frites with a lemon rouille each measured no more than an inch in length. Despite the fact that I am not a child and abhor meat being served all cut up for me, this perfectly medium rare shoulder cut with a stellar spice rub is served on an appropriately hot plate. Hmm, where did Leroy get off to, anyway? The kitchen, perhaps?


Another winner is the broth of a moules frites ($20), steamed in a chablis with Dijon, garlic and herb pistou. But again flat-looking presentation drags this dish down. But there ain't much wrong with an apple tart tatin ($12) either, other than a topping of vanilla ice cream (not made in house) that's just too big for this dainty French finale.


The disappointing aspects of Carens Rosedale are somewhat allayed by food that, in spite of very poor presentation, tastes pretty darn good. And yet deep in my bone marrow I just knew that it could be so much better. After some digging, though, the truth is revealed. Aha, there is no chef at Carens Rosedale. Chef Richard Andino, whose Miami short ribs I still dream about, abruptly parted ways with owner Karen Walters within two months of the opening. But now with Didier Leroy on board as a consultant (yes, it's official), there's little doubt that Carens Rosedale will become a foodie hotspot, attracting more than just the neighbouring locals.

Reviews are meant to describe a dining out experience at a given period in time and are the personal opinion of the writer.
All meals are paid for, including all taxes and gratuities. All reservations are made under assumed names. Menu items, prices and individuals mentioned in this review may not be up to date. Dine.TO encourages its users to share their feedback.

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