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40 Wellington St. E.
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About
Fresh, high-quality ingredients creatively prepared are the hallmark of this bustling, intimate French bistro in the South Annex. Pretty much everything tastes good in this authentic setting, borrowed from a Loire Valley scene — but you bypass the chicken liver pate at your peril. And the oyster appetizer could be lifted directly out of the sea. Whatever the French-inspired comfort foods at your table, a creative wine list offers an abundance of complementing choice. Better still, the lunch menu here is every bit as fulsome as the one wheeled out at dinner. Service is attentive and unpretentious. The canopy-shaded outdoor patio doubles Loire’s size in the summer.

Review: From the Loire valley with love

 
By Jim Bamboulis, reviewed on September 16, 2010

Velvet drapes frame the entrance, welcoming you in style, while dark hardwood floors contrast the bright floral wall paintings. A variety of sweet aromas fill the room. Chef JC Dupoire can't help but smile as he occasionally glances into the warm, intimate dining room...

Velvet drapes frame the entrance, welcoming you in style, while dark hardwood floors contrast the bright floral wall paintings. A variety of sweet aromas fill the room. Chef JC Dupoire can't help but smile as he occasionally glances into the warm, intimate dining room from his open concept kitchen; he knows he's got your French-inspired imagination going wild already. But at Loire, the food is what truly steals the show.

After all, what's a French meal without the use of the local ingredients, ultimate freshness and dazzling the palate?

Aptly labeled as presenting a "casual gourmet" menu, Loire strongly emphasizes the use of local ingredients to create unique twists of French classics. Pretentiousness is nowhere to be found as Dupoire maintains and even exceeds the level of style, quality and overall experience typically found in the old country.

Naturally, our meal begins with a Selection of Charcuterie ($16) and features fresh Markus' Farm Summer Sausage, delectable Chicken Liver Parfait, delicious Maple glazed Pork Belly and a home-made Canadian Whiskey Mustard that was spread and devoured within seconds.

One look at the relatively wide selection of entrees and we realize that Dupoire has a soft spot for seafood. Mouth watering and delicious Crispy skin Ontario Whitefish ($24) is pan-seared and lies on a bed of summer chickpea and tomato relish with saffron basmati rice.

Already succulent, Honey-Soy Muscovy Duck Breast and Confit Leg ($26) has a touch of guilty pleasure attached as peach compote is added on top, giving the dish a sweet, out-of-this-world burst of flavour. I usually stay away from lamb when dining out, but on this night, the Loire Lamb Burger ($19) is speaking to me; gut instinct is correct every time. Cooked perfectly and incredibly juicy, it's topped with Quebec brie and Portobello mushroom, all nestled in toasted Harbord Bakery challah bread and served with house cut fries. The fact that the bread itself didn't have to travel very far doesn't escape me.

Imagination did in fact run wild, but the food caught up and surpassed expectations.

Price: Dinner for 2 with wine and tip: $75-$100
Atmosphere: Casual, Classy
Wheelchair Access: Yes
Surprise, Surprise: Yes, it's the same JC Dupoire, former Chef de Cuisine at Epic at the Fairmont Royal York hotel.

Reviews are meant to describe a dining out experience at a given period in time and are the personal opinion of the writer.
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