French modern at Ici Bistro

Well, another year has passed, and it was birthday night again! Betty & Sandy showed me a wonderful time on my birthday, and the weather was pleasant! I’ve had some birthday celebrations in the middle of fierce winter storms.

We started at Sandy’s, with some truffled hummous from Leslieville Cheese, which Sandy served up attractively with endive spears:

Nibblies

And because it was cocktail hour, Sandy made wonderful Negronis: gin, sweet vermouth, Campari, twist of lemon and a splash of soda. She’s so talented: mixing cocktails while on a conference call 🙂 Great way to start the evening.

Cocktails!

From there, we walked out to Queen Street, to grab a taxi. Where were we going? I didn’t know. It was only when we got out of the cab and crossed the street that I knew we were eating at Ici Bistro.

We arrive at the dinner destination

Coats removed to be hung up in the back, we were seated, had menus to review… and we started with another cocktail. I didn’t document them, but they were delicious. Sandy’s was bourbon based, Betty’s … I forget, Betty, please comment! And mine had green chartreuse.

We were presented with absolutely delicious little amuse gueles: caramelized onion and goat cheese tartlets. A few bites of wonderful contrasts with the sweet onion flavour, the rich creamy goat cheese, and a little sparkle of acid, all wrapped in a tender buttery pastry.

Amuse guele

While sipping and eating, we started looking at the menu. Everything is offered in two sizes. Because we love sharing foods, we went for the smaller sized plates, and shared everything.  Bread and butter were next at the table. All in-house breads.

Bread & butter

The wine came and was decanted (missed getting a picture of the label). That was followed by the steak tartare and croquettes. The tartare was traditionally prepared, with all of the ingredients chopped and mixed together, shaped into quenelles for us to eat. Croquettes were of mashed potato, fried crispy on the outside, deliciously soft and creamy on the inside.

Steak tartare

Next came the meant-for-sharing charcuterie plate, which had a couple of types of sausage, some pork belly, a paté de campagne, and (out of range of the camera) three slices of paté de foie gras that went down like the most amazing butter. Cornichons and twists of delicious bread sticks rounded out the plate.

Mmmmmeat

We followed that up with a fowl dish: magret of duck breast a l’orange, which had a delightful anise flavour (I think it was probably provided by the traditional ingredient for the dish, which is oil of anise, plus a hint of sweetness of orange. The other meat on the plate is thigh and leg of squab — young pigeon that hasn’t fledged, so it’s very tender, and rich. These were accompanied by melt-in-your-mouth scalloped potatoes and white asparagus.

Fowl is fair!

Next up (good thing we were sharing all of this) was foie gras au naturel. It came with a delicious batonne of black trumpet mushrooms that had been cooked, then shaped into this large french-fry shape, then fried. Excellent accompaniment to the liver. We fell on it so quickly that I missed getting its picture. I seem to do that once per dinner.

Final meat dish was lamb two ways: pulled leg of lamb inside a cannelloni, and a couple of rib chops from a rack of lamb. A mushroom truffle ragout, a cipollini onion. Amazing sauces. Wow. Wonderful, fragrant, rich, tender, delicious.

Lamb and mushrooms

Next came a little birthday surprise! A platter decorated with chocolate script and three white chocolate thimbles, each containing a cherry that had been soaking in kirsch for a long time. Total change of direction, and absolutely yummy. If those big Cherry Blossoms tasted anything like this, I’d be a candy addict. Just the right proportions of ingredients.

Instead of singing

Next, we got port and cheese.

Taylor Fladgate 20-year-old tawny. It’s got legs!

Taylor-Fladgate port

And the plateau of cheese gave us a wonderful end to the dinner: 5 types of cheeses, ranging from a very soft and runny brie type, through to harder cheeses, one of which had some of that nuttyness that Oka used to have before Agropur bought them out and blanded everything, and a soft cambazola-like blue — but with more blue! Add slices of Gala apple for acid, and some more of those delicious and crisp bread sticks.

Cheese plate

Good night, Ici! See you again.

Thanks, Ici Bistro!

Good thing we walked back to Sandy’s.

But the walk back to Sandy’s meant passing this place…

Caldense bakery

Cannoli

Almond and squash tarts
Coconut tarts

So we brought back a few pastries and shared them with Damir and a bottle of bubbly! What a great dinner. Thanks, Sandy & Betty!

This entry was posted in Food, Food, dining out by pat. Bookmark the permalink.

About pat

Visual thinker, first got interested in digital imagery in the early days of Omni magazine, back when it used to review what had happened at SIGGraph. I worked in the 3D software field for 23 years. Lifelong enjoyment of gardening grew over time; I was a Master Gardener (briefly) and had a vegetable and herb allotment garden in Toronto to grow vegetables, as well as perennial gardens at home. Gardening and enjoying fresh produce also raised my interest in cooking with really good local food. As more restaurants in Toronto are offering local fare, I enjoy dining out and sampling the visions the different chefs have.

One thought on “French modern at Ici Bistro

  1. For the life of me I can’t remember which cocktail I had. And their on-line menus don’t list the cocktails. I have to agree, the meal was spectacular and I loved the place.

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