Can two dine at T.O.’s swankiest French resto on a budget?

Our intrepid food lovers find out if $100 will fill them up at Brandon Olsen’s boîte


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L–R: Karolyne and Caroline with their ‘mini’ plateau

Sitting down at Brandon Olsen’s French affair, La Banane, we know we’re in for torture. Every plate that whizzes by tempts us. From the perfectly glazed duck breast with endives to the elegantly braided sea bass en croute, it’s all a feast for the eyes. And alas, that will have to sate us because we’re here on a mission: to dine on a hundo at the poshest spot on the Ossington strip.

An alcohol-free evening
It’s Monday. Both of us are cranky. Our moods aren’t helped by the fact that we’ve been sat opposite La Banane’s raw bar. Presumably our strict budget won’t afford us any of the sea jewels beckoning from beyond the glass.

We order tap water with a sigh. The poor server knows there’ll be no up-sales here and doesn’t bother navigating us through the Prohibition-era cocktails.

Stretching the budget
We usually delight in doing the math to make a meal work for our Post City allowance, but today we’re keen to take the path of least resistance. There’s a single dish for $105: the mini plateau. It’s slightly more than we’re allowed to spend, but we shan’t be fettered by a measly Sir Wilfrid Laurier. Based on the adjective “mini” we brace ourselves to leave hungry. 

The food arrives
An epi pretzel manifests in front of us. We hoover the chewy morsel. The crumb-free plate is whisked away and replaced by a silver tray heavy with ocean treasures. There’s no way this is the mini plateau — they must’ve misheard our order. We double check with the waitress: Did we accidentally level up to the petit plateau? Or perhaps the grand plateau? But there’s no error. We give each other a sly grin. This cornucopia is indeed the mini.

A seafood feast for two
It’s piled high with bivalves and crustaceans: A heap of cold, plump mussels, which have been marinated in an espelette pepper vinaigrette, takes centre stage. Meanwhile, a dozen oysters sit in the orchestra pit, moving from Lucky Lime to Raspberry Point to the plump Beausoleil (the real crowd-pleaser). Tucked nonchalantly to the left is a half lobster (served with beurre monté sauce) and, on the right, five cocktail shrimp. The feast is crowned by a raw scallop marinated in a bath of champagne, garlic and buttermilk dotted with chive oil. We dine slowly, savouring every bite while happily ogling all the characters in the artful room.

Now this is a Monday.

La Banane, 227 Ossington Ave., (416) 551- 6263

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