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La Banane

La Banane

Menu, location, and more can be found here

Chef and chocolatier Brandon Olsen opened La Banane (partnered with King Street Food Company) to host his upfront and honest French inspired cuisine, and handmade chocolates from CxBO.

Poseidon himself would gaze with glee (or maybe terror; I don’t know how he feels about shellfish) at the dapper looking bar, punctuated by fresh crab. The fiery red shells reflected in the brass trim of the glass bar play coyly with the green and gold décor. After such an entrance, the raw bar platter feels like the obvious appetizer of choice.

Photo source: www.blogto.com/restaurants/la-banane-toronto/

Photo source: www.blogto.com/restaurants/la-banane-toronto/

Plump king crab legs and knuckles, tucked in their aquatic armour, come stacked teepee-style, and sit beside shrimp tails whose pink and red hue shines against their icy bed. The plate’s figurehead: a decorative lobster head (cleaned, of course) surrounded on both sides by its meaty claws. With beauty comes a feeling of transience as the first deep-red claw is cracked.

Before the platter comes out, a plate of soft, lightly salted pretzels and tangy ballpark mustard appear in place of the traditional bread and butter.

Foie gras mi cuit (half cooked) with brioche and candied apple comes deconstructed, offering a chance to parse each flavour before enjoying the symphony. Contrasting textures of the soft, melt-in-your-mouth foie gras atop golden brown brioche puts the delicacy’s subtle richness center stage. A crunch of canary yellow candied apple in the same bite creates a bridge between the textures of creamy foie gras and flaky brioche. Delicate flakes of sea salt tie the apple’s natural flavour and sweetness into the dish.

European sea bass en croute, criss-crossed by puff pastry, is brought to the table and wafting aromas carry you to the beaches of Cannes before being whisked back to reality. The fish returns moments later, only this time the sight of its flaky meat, gently topped with cuts of lightly cooked zucchini, keeps you in the moment. Beside the delicate, and surprisingly boneless fish, sits a boat of yuzu beurre blanc (white butter).

Photo source: www.tonictoronto.com/March-2017/On-The-Plate/

Photo source: www.tonictoronto.com/March-2017/On-The-Plate/

The dessert menu intrigues you with something called, “Ziggy Stardust Disco Egg.” Though aptly named, it tells you nothing of what it is, but proceeding the dishes, a pleasant surprise is to be expected. The kinder-esque eggs are made in batches at CxBO (Olsen’s chocolate shop) and each one is hand painted – no two will look the same. The geometric egg looks, this time, like an abstraction of Van Gogh’s Starry Night. Seeing the egg does nothing to dispel the sense of mystery and wonder - they're only heightened. What lies within the cranberry, apricot, and ancho chili flavoured hard chocolate shell? A stash of firm, cool chocolate truffles.

La Banane offers invigorated French cuisine that opts for clarity rather than complexity without compromising quality.

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