Best Fine Dining

Pompette: Toronto’s New French Embassy

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This year’s Best Fine Dining pick brings a taste of Paris to College Street. 

Pompette, which opened in May 2020 in Toronto has become the city’s unofficial French embassy on College Street. “People want that little bit of Paris that they are missing,” says chef Martine Bauer.

November 3, 2021
Pompette’s Maxime Hoerth, Martine Bauer and Jonathan Bauer
Pompette’s Maxime Hoerth, Martine Bauer and Jonathan Bauer are opening the door to more French cuisine in Toronto.

Veterans of the Paris scene, Bauer, her husband and sommelier Jonathan Bauer, and bartender Maxime Hoerth, managed to win the heart of a city in lockdown with their pluck, good cheer and devastatingly delicious food and drink. Their secret: a balance of technique, innovation and local sourcing that achieves a casual, yet refined elegance that shone through their takeout menu and bottle shop during the lockdown months

Related: 6 Restaurant Pandemic Pivots We Hope Stick Around Forever 

On offer for in–house dining are updated classics (meltingly tender 12–hour braised beef cheeks, or a caper–, gherkin– and herb–spiked veal gribiche), striking new flavour combos (grilled shishito peppers and shaved mimolette cheese on a bright–yellow bed of sweet corn purée), modernist cocktails (take the Thai gimlet, made with infused pisco and curry bitters, cooked sous–vide overnight, then blended with a lime cordial) and a 300–plus–label wine list that sparkles with Old World and New World gems. The service is always on point, and the vibe ever–relaxed, whether you’re on the spacious pillow–strewn patio or in the dining room (a modernist bistro design by Breton firm Random Lines).

gif of staff, food and drinks at Pompette
plate of pate
   Photos: Sandy Nicholson

From their first visit in 2017, the trio knew they wanted to make Toronto home. “It was obvious,” recalls Martine. “We fell in love with the people and the multicultural vibe. Coming from Mauritius, it’s what I’m used to, and it’s why we lived in Paris.”

exterior and interior shots of Pompette
   Photos: Sandy Nicholson

They haven’t just embraced life on Lake Ontario, they doubled down on their new arrondissement with a charming new bar space a few doors away. “We had not planned this, but the crisis has taught us to make decisions quickly,” says Martine. Bar Pompette opened in July, serving breads and pastries in the morning and, in the evening, Bar Pompette partner Hugo Togni’s cocktails, wine, charcuterie and snacks.

“We want to keep our Parisian neighbourhood vibe going,” says Martine. “For us, Toronto is now chez nous.”

Leeks Vinaigrette
Leeks Vinaigrette: Martine Bauer’s twist on this bistro classic subs in slow‑cooked egg yolks for the traditional hard boiled egg.    Photo: Sandy Nicholson
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