Cheap Eat of the Week: the goat cheese and beet salad at Ici Bistro
After two years of licensing and permit issues, the long-awaited Ici Bistro finally opened in November 2010 to the gratitude of many. Nearly a year later, in October 2011, it received one of the most notable restaurant accolades in the country when it was named one Canada’s best new restaurants for 2011 by enRoute magazine.
The Harbord and Manning restaurant, by chef J. P. Challet and his team, offers just 24 seats, and you better believe each one is as difficult to reserve as the next. Yet even with all the buzz about Ici, it’s certainly a pleasant surprise that this French-focused restaurant offers at least one dish at the “cheap eat” price point.
The menu is comprised of around a dozen items, most of which can be ordered as a smaller appetizer or a larger entrée. French bistro-style dishes like a signature lobster bisque or foie gras “au naturel” are favourites of many diners, but the beet and goat cheese salad is an unexpected winner considering its price point and its obvious role on the menu as a vegetarian-friendly option.
At $10 for the appetizer size (regular size is $16), the teardrop-shaped plate starts with a salad of mache greens, root vegetables and a shiitake mushroom on creamy goat cheese, sitting atop sweet potato. The cheeky part is the thinly sliced beets that have been rolled up around the same creamy goat cheese, similar to a rolled up plate of cannelloni. It’s playful, creative and of course, a great starter, along with the bread basket of beautifully fresh, crusty French bread from chef Challet’s recently opened Le Matin Bakery at Queen and Jones.
Ici Bistro, 538 Manning Ave., 416-536-0079
Gizelle Lau is a food and travel writer and photographer in Toronto who lives from one meal to the next. Her column, Cheap Eat of the Week, highlights dishes that costs $10 or less. Follow her on Twitter for your daily dose of food from in/around the city.