I recently had a chance to eat at Le Sélect Bistro again, after what seems like a long, long time. It's always interesting to visit a place for both lunch and dinner; many, surprisingly, don't show that necessary consistency, making it feel like eating at two separate restaurants. This establishment is anything but. They want to create a sort of neighbourhood bistro feel here, a sort of Parisian escape in downtown Toronto. Decor and atmosphere certainly feels like it, but really, all it takes is enough money. The real (and only) thing that matters is food and service, and for this night at least, both were satisfied.
There's a lot of bad food in Paris. But when it's done properly - in humble settings, no less - it reminds why French cuisine is simply the pinnacle of what food can be. So yes, steak frites and all that is simple, but to do simple well . . . well, that's an entire different matter. How exactly do you improve on the classics? And is that even a worthy focus? Classics are classics simply because they are timeless and as near perfect as a dish can be - do we trust cooks who are arrogant enough to assume that they can improve on them? But what am I saying . . . sometimes food and environment are simply meant to provide a comfortable setting for a nice evening out.
The steak frites, the seared Berkshire pork chops were both winners. Cooked perfectly, with enough rusticity in plating and really, the ingredients themselves, to remain true to what they were meant to be. The wine, a 1995 Don Jacobo, DOCa Rioja. Delicious, and just hitting all those mature notes, with lots of energy to spare.
All digested, a wonderful night out. Because sometimes all it takes for a great dinner is the right companion. Le Sélect Bistro; some puzzling moments (goji berry sauce for the pork chops), a slightly overrated wine list (though with a biodynamic section) - little flash, but yes, enough substance to make it worthwhile.