119 Murray St.
Dinner & drinks for 2: $50
Tucked away behind the kitchen of The French Baker is a touch of Paris in Benny’s Bistro. Its unpretentious and humble surroundings throw the spotlight on the surprisingly delightful and delicious food.
Decisions are difficult when perusing their eclectic menu. I settled on the special sandwich of the day with a side of soup ($13). What arrived was salmon belly impeccably cooked and hidden with slightly spicy chili aioli, spongy avocado and crunchy Lebanese cucumber set between freshly-baked nine-grain bread: the perfect sandwich. On the side, was a soup (so thick it formed peaks) of celeriac, leek and bacon purée, all components sharing their flavors amiably.
On another visit, I ordered the mushroom and leek confit with Belgian endive and shaved butternut squash drizzled with lemon and truffled white balsamic vinaigrette ($15). Every bite was filled with textural contrast and layers of flavor, all working together to create the perfect bite. It was so delicious that the din around me went quiet, and all I could focus on was the explosion of flavours in my mouth.
Dessert choices arrived on a tray instead of a menu, each one calling out to me. I pointed to the dense lemon tart. It was both sweet and sour with a swirl of caramel garnished around it. A sip of suitably strong coffee rounded out this tasty lunch.
I only wish this sweet market bistro were open for dinner.
Enjoy food, wine and live jazz at Café Paradiso. They offer tapas and a large selection of wines by the glass. Tonight, listen to Elise Letourneau and Tim Bedner perform standards from the 1960s, ’70s, ’80s and ’90s. $5 entertainment charge for non-diners. 199 Bank St. (613) 565-0657
Fine Italian cuisine and wines are served up at Piz’za-za, including a daily table d’hôte (soup or salad, and pizza of the day) for less than $12. Watch for its monthly wine theme evenings. 36 Laval St., (Old Hull) Gatineau. Call (819) 771-0565