La Brehandaise Creperie, Toronto

Far from T.O. – whimpering in greyness, with the anticipation of sunny days ahead – is Brittany (or rather, Bretagne), a beautifully pastoral region of France, proudly boasting precious promontories, verdant pastures and rich gardens. Even a quick Wiki tour of this tiny piece of French heaven makes the solipsistic Torontonian cut the “I am the center of the world” crap down to a mere whimper. Thankfully, however, Toronto now has slightly more allure, being that shades of Bretagne has planted itself in the city’s west end, specifically, the old Urbano space. La Bréhandaise Crêperie, Toronto’s first crêperie authentique, opens today.

Thanks to Lise Roy Décor, one gets a taste of France before being seated in the small 30 person spot (by one of the Provencal fabric donning staff). Roy, who met Pascal Poilbout, restaurant owner and Maître-Crêpier, just three months before opening, knew how important the feel of the space was for the recent France ex-pat. Every detail in the restaurant — from the subtle shade of warm yellow on the walls to the thick floral curtains on the front, windowed, alcove to the old barn door hanging on the wall, displaying photographs of the Bretagne region — captures Pascal’s stringent intent.

So what exactly is Pascal’s M.O? Well, for one thing to serve good quality crepes. But also to offer Toronto something they’ve never had: a real, French, non-touristy culinary experience. This gentle understated chateau is situated in the West End because Pascal’s dream is to gain a community reputation, know his customers’ names, and have them know him, not as the garcon with the funny black hat (he wears a maitre‘s hat when he cooks), but as Pascal. The fact that you feel like you’re dining in a turn of the century cottage on the French countryside, should probably work in Pascal’s most humble favour.

As for the food, yes cheeky reader, it is a crêpe house. They do serve crepes. But, they also serve gallettes, a specialty indigenous to the Bretagne region. Unlike the crêpe, made from white flour and generally served with sweet filling, the gallette – a thin pancake, as well – is made with buckwheat, has an airy texture (much like Injera) and is savoury. Pascal’s Pièce de résistance is the most traditional of gallettes, the gallette complète: a lovely combination of emmenthal cheese, egg and ham. Pair this with a caramel crêpe for a second course and top it off with Pascal’s bound-for-fame pot au chocolat and the same feeling that arises when actually visiting France will likely be conjured; one never wants to leave.

Am I forgetting something? Mais oui… l’alcool. Yet another tradition in France is, well, drinking. But in the crêpe world, the drink that best matches the delicacy is cider, of the alcoholic variety. Now, I’m not talking about that high-school girl’s favourite gag-inducer Growers Direct, but actual real, made in Quebec, light, crisp apple cider. La Bréhandaise offers three choices of the cider variety that range from light to rich in flavour. But, for those who stick their noses up at cider, a variety of wines are also available, all French of course. Whatever it is one chooses to sip on, the back garden patio, which seats 25 people, will be a perfect compliment for any potable.

Brehandaise is a real refresher on West Queen West. A warm, inviting spot that doesn’t have the dirty-haired hipster stink of Toronto on it – in fact it actually smells of butter and flowers.

Address: 942 Queen St W, Toronto, ON, Canada
Contact: 647-351-0803
Cuisine: French
Area: West Queen West
Venue: Restaurant
Hours: Lunch: Tue. – Wed. 11:30am – 3:00pm Dinner: 6:00pm – 9:00pm
Thu. – Fri. Lunch: 11:30am – 3:00pm Dinner: 6:00pm – 11:00pm
Sat. 11:30am – 11:00pm
Sun. Brunch: 11:00am – 4:00pm
Price Range: $$ (Affordable)
Payment: Master Card, Visa, American Express

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