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Best New Restaurant 2018:
La Banane

When La Banane opened in Toronto last January, it quickly established itself as the perfect neighourhood bistro.

Presented by Sub-Zero, Wolf, and Cove

Diners flocked to the French-inspired restaurant, eager to experience the white-tablecloth service and raucous energy that set it apart.

The bistro is divided into three sections, so diners can share small plates of salmon rillettes and beef tartare in the sunny front parlour, stop by for a glass of wine and half a dozen oysters at the marble-topped raw bar, or sit in the cozy back room for a more formal, albeit never stuffy, dining experience. Disco music pulsates as sommelier Christopher Wickens weaves across the dining room to pour generous glasses of Burgundies and grower champagne. Meanwhile, head bartender Christopher Weaver prepares a selection of classic cocktails.

The extensive beverage offerings hold their own with chef Brandon Olsen’s inventive bistro fare—a rotation of French classics spiked with Japanese and, occasionally, Southern influences. The Euro bass en croute, baked in a latticework of salt pastry, is presented tableside with a splash of yuzu beurre blanc. Inside the butter sauce, a hidden Easter egg of Japanese citrus adds just the right amount of astringency. Olsen’s shatteringly crisp fried chicken, brined with bay leaves, lemons, pepper and garlic, is served in a three-piece tower, transforming the down-home delicacy into a playful rendition of haute cuisine. But it is the famous hand-painted Ziggy Stardust Disco Egg—smashed tableside to reveal hand-rolled Peruvian chocolate truffles—that steals the limelight. The intricate dessert transcends the modesty of the classic French bistro. Just like La Banane.

— CL AUDIA MCNEILLY

Chef Brandon Olsen of La Banane accepts 2018's Best New Restaurant award presented by Philippe Hazan from Sub-Zero, Wolf and Cove.
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