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Tasty comfort food rules at Jules - Metro US

Tasty comfort food rules at Jules

photos by chloe tejada/for metro toronto

Typical French cuisine includes quiche, above, and steak frites, right.

Jules Restaurant Tarterie

Address: 147 Spadina Ave., at Richmond Street

Phone: 416-348-8886

Mahasti Eslahjou, owner of French restaurant Jules Restaurant Tarterie on Spadina Avenue and Richmond Street, says she is trying to change the way Canadians think about French food.

“French food has an image of being fancy, sophisticated and expensive, and we want to change that,” she says. Jules is changing the image of French cuisine.

A casual restaurant, it offers what Eslahjou describes as “comfort food” for its patrons.

When Jules opened seven years ago, there was only one other French restaurant in Toronto offering informal dining.

“But then it became popular right away,” she says. “We brought back quiche and crêpes.”

Jules’ homemade food definitely comforts the tummy. Its most popular dish, steak frites, consists of a juicy steak with herbs sprinkled on top giving off a mouth-watering aroma. The frites (fries) are thin and salty, a perfect balance to the leafy salad.

And no steak meal is complete without a red wine. Eslahjou suggests either a full-bodied cabernet or a light merlot; both cost $24. “Steak frites and wine is like having a hotdog here,” says Eslahjou. “It’s traditional in France.”

For the French, cooking is part of their culture and they take great pride in preparing quality cuisine.

Breakfast typically consists of bread such as brioche with jam or butter, some kind of fruit or juice, and coffee or tea. Despite what Westerners may think, most French people do not eat croissants for breakfast — except on weekends when they have time to go out to a bakery.

Lunch usually depends on the region of France, but there is common quick food such as the steak frites, poulet frites (chicken with French fries), croque-monsieur (grilled Swiss cheese and ham sandwich) and croque-madame (grilled Swiss cheese and ham sandwich with an egg on top). Other common foods are pasta, such as spaghetti, quiche, and ham and cheese sandwiches on a baguette. Typical desserts include the famous crème brulée, crêpes, chocolate mousse and pastries.

Steak frites

Ingredients:

  • 4 beef steaks, such as porterhouse, sirloin, rib eye, shell or filet mignon (1/2-pound each and 3/4- to 1-inch thick), or one 2-pound steak

  • 5 tbsp unsalted butter

  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

  • 1 tbsp water

  • Belgian fries

Preparation:

  1. With a sharp knife, make small incisions, about 11/2 inches apart in the fat around the outside of each steak.

  2. Melt 3 tbsp of the butter in a large heavy skillet or sauté pan over high heat until hot but not smoking. Add the steaks and sear for 1 minute on each side. Reduce the heat to medium. Season the steaks generously with salt and pepper and continue cooking, turning the steaks every other minute until you see little pearls of blood come to the surface, about 6 to 8 minutes. The steaks should be cooked rare to medium for juicy, tender meat.

  3. Remove the steaks and place them on warmed plates. Over medium heat, deglaze the pan with the water and swirl in the remaining 2 tbsp of butter. Drizzle these pan juices over the meat and serve at once with fries. Serves four.

Toronto’s top French restaurants

  • Jules Restaurant Tarterie: 147 Spadina Ave., at Richmond Street, 416-348-8886. Try this: Steak Frites with a cabernet or merlot.

  • Auberge du Pommier: 4150 Yonge St. (at York Mills), 416-222-2220,www.oliverbonacini.com/aubergemovie.html. Try this: Foie gras sauté with champagne.

  • La Petite France: 3317 Bloor St. W., Etobicoke, 416-234-8783, www.lapetitefrance.ca. Try this: Roast chicken with lemon ginger sauce with a light red wine such as Italian Dolcetto.

  • Brassaii: 461 King St. W., 416-598-4730, www.brassaii.com. Try this: Escargots in garlic butter with a red or white wine.

  • Bistro 990: 990 Bay St., 416-921-9990, www.bistro990.ca. Try this: Duck breast with a rich white wine such as a New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc.

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