492 Queen Street West
brunch for two with all taxes tip and coffee: $45
La Palette is now considered a Kensington Market landmark, serving up classic French food in an adorable little bistro. So fans were rightly pleased when owners Shamez Amlani and Brook Kavanagh announced they’d be taking over the old Taro location to open a second La Palette.
The space is far more open than during the days of Taro – gone are the heavy booths; wooden tables are draped with pretty fabric and the exposed brick walls are covered in French posters and prints. The back skylight makes up for the lack of a patio, as the room is filled with sunlight.
Our server is friendly and patient, particularly given that I’m visibly upset since I’ve just had a run in with a man on the streetcar who was convinced that everyone attending the Pride parade was going to hell. (No… really. And no, despite my better judgment, I didn’t clock the guy.) Coffee and glasses of water arrive swiftly, and we’re able to settle down and peruse the menu.
It’s a much smaller selection than what is available at the K-Market location, so my advance research is for nought and I have to surreptitiously snap pics of the abbreviated menu. But all of the classics are here, including omlettes, crepes and eggs Benedict ($12 – $16) that include toppings that range from mushrooms, perch or La Palette’s signature meat of choice, horse.
I can’t resist the sandwich of the day ($14) which pairs duck confit with tomatoes and greens. It’s done skillet-style, so the whole thing is pretty greasy, but often greasy = tasty so I don’t complain, and remind myself to use my napkin and not touch anything but food and fork. The duck is sweet and moist and really delightful.
The husband opts for the crêpe aux côte sanglier ($13), a light crepe full of house smoked wild boar back ribs, aged cheddar, caramelized onion, roasted apple and arugula. All wrapped up, the crepe doesn’t really show off the flavour explosion inside, but this is one mighty-fine combination of goodies. I can barely get a taste for documentation purposes, so enamoured of this dish is my man, but the boar is shredded, almost pulled-pork style, with a more pronounced flavour than standard pork. And apples, onions and cheddar… really, what’s not to love?
Mains all come with the option of 2 sides from a selection of frites, potato salad or mixed greens. The frites are crisp, fried in something luscious, possibly duck fat, and the potato salad is funky and purple, but with a flavour that’s just kind of “meh” as far as potato salad goes – it’s not horrible, it’s just not mind-blowing. The greens are a generous portion tossed in a tarragon vinaigrette, with dried cherries throughout for a little burst of flavour.
The space is quiet during our visit, but Queen Street is also uncharacteristically quiet for a Sunday afternoon. Given the many other events taking place at the same time, I suspect La Palette is usually busier than what we experienced. Based on our meal, it certainly deserves to be.