OLD BLEU CAFE (73 Queen East, at Church, 416-861-0819, oldbleucafe.com) Complete lunches for $8 per person, including tax, tip and a pop. Average main $5.50. Open Monday to Friday 7 am to 6 pm, Saturday and Sunday 8:30 am to 4 pm. Lunch daily from 11 am. Closed holidays. Unlicensed. Access: Small bump at door, no washrooms. Rating: NNN
The kids in production have been raving about a new café just down the street from NOW headquarters.
Open only a month, Old Bleu Café is something of an anomaly for the nabe: the lunch specials are not only dirt cheap, but damned tasty, too.
Mondays, transplanted Parisian restaurateur and self-taught chef Gong Zan Shen makes baseball-sized pork meatballs kissed with garlic and five-spice powder. Tuesdays, he puts an Asian-French spin on jerk chicken - jerk-ish, more like - sided with buttery rice 'n' beans, while Wednesdays he takes the trouble to debone chicken thighs before sweating them Thai-style in lemon grass (all $5.50).
Optional sides include purple cabbage coleslaw, stir-fried bell peppers with onion, and penne salad.
Where else but multiculti Hogtown could a Chinese-born chef trained in France make Italian tortellini? Shades of Susur Lee.