Chez Laurent

Someone had brought me here years ago but all I could recall is walking into someone's house for italian-french dinner and having escargot for the fist time. Finally, I found it again - a house on Yonge street, surrounded by higher, newer buildings.

This time, I was sending cheri away for a week, so I needed a homy and comfortable spot to give us peace. There is something about this place that drew me and promised that ambiance.

intimate, dark ruby red
From the outside, a short fence with plants on the floor, followed by small white pillars and white frames on the brick house, welcomed us. Thank god for the restaurant sign, so we don't look we are trespassing. The sign was long and rectangular, with an older feel of elegance to it.

berries and oak
We entered and saw two ladies informally sitting down in a room on the left side. Turns out one was the owner. She asked us for a reservation, but I didn't realize I should've made one. She checked a small telephone-like book in a dark corner (reminded me of my grandma). We were lucky to arrive right after work, so she said that if we are done by 7:30 we have a spot. We agreed and took a seat in the second room, on the left side, passing by the kitchen and the stairs. 
Wooden, italian-romantic hunchback chairs with a bordeau cushion tops matched the tablecloths topped with white shorter squares. The simple white walls, wooden frames and white curtains gave a middle-class family living room feel.

ripe blackberry, sweet cedar, earthy
And so we took a look at at the menus. Even though they were only two pages, it was enough to get us excited. Marble-like covers, transparent pockets inside, the text was cluttered with a lot of dots between plates and their prices. 
After our keen, young waiter listed their specials and checked on us a few times, we made up our minds. I asked for their Boscaiola Salad while cheri got their home-made Cheese Ravioli with portobello sauce. Their wine menu looked affordable and definitely worth trying, but we were both driving our separate ways this night. We, instead, asked for two glasses of their fizz (I believe), which I was told is a light mix of a sparkling white wine with cassis juice.

medum-bodied, smooth, rich
Our glasses arrived with a "Pardon My Reach" used without mercy by our waiter that evening. 
Slices of fresh bread arrived at our table - some kind of brioche-like shape with lots of air. Packaged butter on the side, we finished the bread in no time. Both our plates came pretty quick and, as always, our waiter asked if we would like some freshly ground pepper. I tend to agree (depending on the plate) and wait to see if the waiter will pick the amount for me. Rarely do they stop at my word, just like this young guy who made a few twists and obviously felt nervous. My Boscaiola Salad looked messy and colourful. Topped with slices of ham, marinates artichoke hearts, green olives and grated mozzarella, it was a big fiesta. The vinaigrette was rather simple and plain. It would've been nice to get some herb in there. Under were hiding tomatoes, onion, cucumber and peppers. It was a decent size.
Cheri's ravioli were crying for a heavier red wine. The portobello sauce had chunks of them, to cheri's disappointment, but it had a great thick texture and smoky feel. His favourite part was the fact that the ravioli themselves were not tightly stuffed but rather thin and long triangles. They were a few, but very flavourful. 
We asked for their dessert menu, which came out on a loose piece of paper. We decided to have Creme Brule and Creme Caramel, side by side for testing purposes. Their descriptions sound rather confusing and fancy, but in reality not that hard to figure out. The Creme Brule came in a small curly casserole, with a crusted sugar glaze on top. It was warm and had an obvious egg in the creamy mixture. The Creme Caramel is the one that is flipped at the end with the brown caramelized sugar on the top. It is milk based and solid. It has a bit of a darker sauce from the bottom. I always assumed the two terms are used interchangeable, as my mom made a mix of the two and called it Creme Caramel. Anyways, now I know that the traditional Creme Caramel is my favourite. 

a bit too strong of an aftertaste, hint of caramel
We had a very cute dinner. I wished we had more time to order a bottle of wine and start by trying their onion soup and antipasto misto.
Lastly, we both explored the house on our quest to the washrooms. Surprisingly the entire dining room is on the bottom floor.
As our hand-written bill came, with its carbon copy, I made a conversation with the owner lady - who, as any classic french boss would collect the money. I asked if this is Laurent's house and who he is. She dearly said it was her husband. My curiously got to me and I also asked if he is the chef. She boldly stated he was diseased and died, however her daughter is in the kitchen.
I apologized for asking and thanked her for the evening. It made me feel a bit uneasy.

overall.. a natural blend Cabernet Franc and Sauvignon Blanc
Chez Laurent on Urbanspoon

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