That’s what it felt like. Like I stepped into some dandyish Paris bistro for lunch—minus the haughty ambiance. Walking into Hintonburg’s Back Lane Café you’re immediately transported into a different reality than whence you came. It feels like you’ve travelled, without actually travelling. The tables are adorned with mismatched chairs. Weathered window shutters grace the walls. The place is intimate, comforting, homey and well worn. It feels like it’s been here forever.
Gazing towards Wellington Street
I’ve read that the owner, having been inspired by a recent six-year stint in Paris, wanted to recreate a time where people lived their lives in the local back lanes, surrounded by neighbours, open air kitchens and vegetable gardens.
Homemade bread, olive oil and balsamic vinegar
I ordered the Chilled pan seared trout with cucumber salad, tomato and tahini sauce. I’m normally a burger/pizza kind-a-guy but I’m a sucker for trout or any fresh fish for that matter. The meal was fresh and very flavourful. The portion was a little on the smallish side for my appetite but the extra portions of homemade bread saved me.
Chilled pan seared trout, with cucumber salad, tomato and tahini sauce
My lunch companion ordered a margherita pizza. She noted that it was a bit chewy but delicious nonetheless.
I want to go back to try the Almond, garlic and mushroom paté starter. I hear it’s a speciality and has already garnered stellar ratings. As have the mussels. Next time I’m there, I am going to try the roast pork on baguette with mustard and pickled zucchini. Or I might even have a burger or a pizza. I like that the menu allows for alternatives. Parisian ambiance with decidedly French food or Parisian ambiance with unquestionably North American and Mediterranean fare. Regardless of the menu choices you make, sometimes it’s just nice to escape to another milieu. Back Lane Café offers you that option.
Be forewarned. It is hard to get a dinner reservation for this restaurant. You may want to pop in for a quick lunch like we did.
Go to Town! No, seriously. Go to Town. It’s one of the most “with it” restaurants I’ve frequented of late. It’s got it’s act together for sure. Of note is their service. Attentive yet not overly so. The servers are knowledgeable and serve without hovering. I love that.
The food was quite impressive. Don’t be put off by my poor photography skills. I had their trout ala nonna. Pan seared trout with lentils, bacon, pearl onions, tomatoes, enochi mushrooms with a guanciale (bacon) vinaigrette for $24.
My pal had the half-chicken under a brick. Black garlic jus, mascarpone mash potatoes, butternut squash, Brussel sprouts and chestnuts for $25. I was graciously allowed a sample and found it to be quite delicious. I might order the chicken next time.
You’ll need a reservation. They have 5:00 p.m. and 7:15 p.m. slots available. When I made the reservation, I was told that we would need to leave before 7:15 (annoying). But we managed to eat, drink and talk plenty before finally leaving at 7:30 pm. There was nary a peep from server. I would definitely recommend Town. I hope to go back soon to sample the chicken and maybe the ricotta stuffed meatballs. It’s supposed to be their signature dish.
Town is located at 296 Elgin in between Browns Cleaners and Money Mart.