Aloette – A Michelin-minded diner
|Location||163 Spadina Avenue|
|Lunch for two||$70|
Aloette is the baby sister to Alo, one of the only restaurants, à mon avis, that would receive three Michelin stars if they were granted in Canada. Chef Patrick Kriss is at the helm of both, and he knows how to “wow” his guests. No doubt, I had high expectations when I went there for lunch recently.
Aloette is on the corner of Queen and Spadina in the same heritage building as Alo. It’s in a narrow street-level space that is casual and contemporary on the interior. Chef Patrick Kriss and Chef Matthew Betsch, Kriss’s former sous at Alo, have curated an à la carte menu of diner classics that use trendier ingredients at a more accessible price point than Alo’s tasting menu.
My friend and I met at Aloette for lunch one day. The 36-seat restaurant was already jammed (pas de réservation possible). Natural light flooded the narrow space and ricocheted off the mirrored bar. It was almost like an optical illusion because the space seemed bigger than it actually was. The décor was un mélange of art deco and industrial, giving the space a modern update to a 1950s French bistro or classic diner. Dark wood paneling accented the walls, penny tiles added some visual appeal to the floors, and abstract light fixtures hung from the leather-upholstered barrel ceiling. It was reminiscent of an old-school dining car and was une ambiance très chic.
As we settled into our seats at the bar, I couldn’t help but smile. There was something nostalgic about sitting so close to the action, and Aloette was the perfect place to take advantage of this. Unlike many other bar seats, Aloette’s were comfortable and I never felt like I was in the way of the serving staff or other patrons. Menu offerings ranged from hamachi sashimi to classic diner staples and comfort food, such as burgers and mac and cheese. And, like any good restaurant, the menu changes regularly.
Service started with complimentary house-made cheese bread, which was light, unlike what one might expect. Paired with deliciously creamy whipped yeast butter, the toasted slice was the perfect way to commence my Aloette experience.
To start, my guest and I shared the crispy squash ($12), a generous portion which we devoured with gusto. The tender pieces of squash were crisp and resembled an upscale poutine of sorts. With a healthy dose of brown butter, grated parmesan, and a sprinkle of roasted pepitas, my taste buds were in Heaven. I savoured every mouthful.
I consider myself a burger connoisseur, so the Aloette burger ($18) was a natural choice. And after one bite, I knew I’d savour every mouthful. On the patty were the perfect proportions of sautéed onions, shredded lettuce, mayo and fried Beaufort cheese. It was a classy burger, as I’d expect it to look at this establishment. While I could taste the quality of meat in the patty, it was cooked closer to well-done, which prevented the burger’s natural juices from seeping out. Regardless, the components elevated this diner staple. And the fries…Mon Dieu! Hand cut, double-fried and crispy.
We also had the hamachi sashimi ($18), which scored points for presentation right off the bat. The fish was fresh and the bow-tied server was knowledgeable about its source.
The service was so impeccable that if we needed anything (an extra serviette to wipe the burger grease, for example), it appeared before we had the opportunity to ask. It was friendly and attentive—no different from Alo.
Although the restaurant is closer to a diner in look, feel and menu offerings, it’s Michelin-minded in every way. The hostess was perky and pleasant. Coats were offered to be checked the moment we walked in. Water glasses were filled before we had to ask. Toilet paper in the washroom was neatly folded into a triangle. Aloette didn’t skip a beat on the details.
Aloette has made a name for itself — offering delicious comfort food at prices that won’t break the bank. Go hungry, mangez beaucoup, and save room for dessert! I’ll definitely return to experience this perfect trifecta of food, service and ambiance.
Mme M. xoxo
La rubrique de Madame Marie
1 étoile – Run. Before you get the runs.
2 étoiles – Mediocre, but nothing you couldn’t make at home.
3 étoiles – C’est bon, with some standout qualities.
4 étoiles – Many memorable qualities and excellent execution. Compliments to the chef.
5 étoiles – Formidable! Michelin Star quality. Book a reservation immediately.