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Le Sélect Bistro

She made dinner plans with her husband, her brother-in-law and his fiancée at a charming Parisian-style bistro in Toronto. The night sky was clear and the air crisp, as the city emerged from a sudden snowstorm. They needed a hearty meal to soothe away their winter woes.

The foursome entered the wooden door of Le Sélect Bistro, bringing in a gust of wind with them. They were immediately seated at the back of the bistro, in a room full of old movie posters. The ceiling rose high above the red leather banquette seats and the lights whispered a soft, golden glow. This was going to be a good night.

She looked at the red napkin on the table and played with the cutlery before her. Then, she lowered her eyes and quietly read the menu with the rustic red print on cream-coloured paper. But she was still confused as to which she would have tonight. She wanted something that reminded her of Paris, her favourite city in the world. Her gaze wandered and she suddenly felt transported to the City of Lights. Around her, the details were impeccably French -- the leather banquettes, the zinc and mahogany bar, the mosaic floor tile, the decorative metal ceiling, the striped awning, the wine cellar, and a tiny jardin at the back -- much like the bistros in Paris.

By now, there was a low rumbling inside of her. Her instinct told her that a soupe à l'oignon gratinee was a good choice for starters, as it spoke of a decidedly Parisian customary bowl of such in Les Halles. When the soup came, the layer of cheese on top was thick and bubbly. A slice of baguette floated beneath, its crust still crunching from the heat of the broiler. She had tasted an elixir like no other. Soon, her companions shared their starters with her. Two of them ordered the soupe du jour, which was a fragrant cream of mushroom. And the other had the terrine de foie gras, which had a fruity sweetness to it.

Then came the main courses. She had a voracious appetite and was not afraid to have the côte de porc à la moutarde, a thick cut of pork prime rib with a creamy and tangy mustard reduction. Her husband shared with her his faux-filet café de Paris, a grilled striploin steak topped with a melted herb butter compound. Both plats were served with French-style green beans and a buttery potato galette. By now, she was in heaven. She turned to her lovable brother-in-law and eyed his duck confit. She had dined in this bistro before, so she knew how the meat was fork-tender, and the crispy duck skin basted in its own fat, had a satiny smooth finish. She had also tried the cassoulet before and was quite satisfied with the rustic dish. The bistro once served a seafood fettuccine in saffron cream sauce that she enjoyed; however, it had long been removed from the menu.

The best part was yet to come. She always had a love for classic sweets. The ones on the menu were simple French desserts. Would she consider a baba au rhum, a tradition in Parisian patisseries? While the dessert menu did not read like a great patisserie such as Ladurée, it would do. Alas, she decided on an elegant créme brûlée while the others shared a flute of mousse au chocolat. With the burnt sugar still crunching on her lips, she concluded that this was a meal to remember. Perhaps the night reminded her of her dearly cherished Paris. Funny, she thought, how a bistro in Toronto can evoke a latent souvenir from the City of Lights.

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Le Sélect Bistro + trip