My wife and I attended the wonderfully aromatic Souper Bowl event on Feb. 3 at Le Papillon on the Park restaurant, 1001 Eastern Ave. While standing in line to have our container filled with Chef Lukas Vyhnal’s delicious French onion soup, I went over and read the menu he had posted in the front window of the restaurant.
We decided this would make an excellent destination for a lunch date, and we were not disappointed. The soup that day was just a a hint of the excellent food we’d find when we returned a couple of weeks later.
Our lunch date was on a dull and rainy day, not at all inspiring, but the atmosphere inside Le Papillon helped lift our sagging spirits. The huge, old brick home (which according to the restaurant’s website was built in 1919) offers an elegantly paneled entryway which leads into the bar before opening up into the well-lit dining area. Windows all along the east side of Le Papillon offer views of the sooner-or-later-to-be redesigned Pumphouse Park. In summer French doors open to the side patio, and there is a rooftop patio and bar. In the dining area there are two double-sided wood-burning fireplaces to add to the old-world charm and elegance.
Our waitress was soon tableside with our menus and wine list. Although our mouths watered for a taste of some of the tempting appetizers – Trio de Patés ($13), Champignons Sauvages ($11), or Moules Chardonnay ($13) – we knew we not have room for a main if we did. Another time I might try sampling several in lieu of a main. Also tempting, but left for a future visit are the four selections of that signature Quebeçois dish, poutine: Maison ($9), Poulet ($12), Chevre ($12) and Agneau Braisé ($13).
Instead we opted to go straight to the main entreés which, as it turned out, were more than adequately filling. Jan ordered an old favourite, Croque Monsieur ($14). Grilled ham, Swiss cheese, and Dijon mustard between slices of sourdough bread, grilled and served with your choice of a salad or ‘frites’ ($14). Add a fried egg, sunny side up for $2 and call it a Croque Madame. She said it tasted as good as she remembered from work lunches downtown at the old Wine Cellar Restaurant.
I had a harder decision. Would it be a Croque Madame? No, too copy-cat. How about Viande Fumeé ($14)? No, much as I love Montreal smoked meat, my doctor says it doesn’t agree with me. Maybe Ragout de Lapin ($21)? Or the good old standby Steak Frites ($20)?
I decided instead to try something from the extensive crepe menu. For lunch you can choose from among 16 different crepes. I selected the Crepe Rafael ($19), seared shrimp and scallops, sautéed mushrooms in a Chardonnay cream sauce. Heavenly! It came served on a long rectangular plate – and still hung over the ends!
We enjoyed a half-litre of one of the house white wines, a very delicious Pinot Grigio ($30).
Le Papillon on the Park is one of those Beach/Leslieville restaurants that will have you coming back again and again, to soak up the atmosphere and to try another dish. We are thinking of going back in the summer, sitting on the rooftop patio and having poutine and beer. A long walk on the boardwalk after that should satisfy my doctor.
Le Papillon on the Park is at 1001 Eastern Ave. Contact them at 416-649-1001, or online at lepapillononpark.com.