Rating: NNNNNLE BIFTHEQUE (96 Richmond West, 366-4333) A meat 'n' potatoes steak house in the Sheraton Centre serving, well, meat.
LE BIFTHEQUE (96 Richmond West, 366-4333) A meat ‘n’ potatoes steak house in the Sheraton Centre serving, well, meat ‘n’ potatoes. A Montreal chain reminiscent of the Steak & Burgers of yore, it serves Canadian beef at half or a third the USDA Prime prices of other downtown cow palaces. Warning: stay clear of the vegetables. And expect a lineup unless it’s weekend lunch, when the place is deserted. Best: 16-ounce New York sirloin with baked potato, garden salad and rolls 18-ounce rib-eye with same 8-ounce burger with slaw and iffy fries battered and deep-fried Vidalia-onion “flower” with bland ranch dip, big enough for four bottomless soda-pop refills. Complete meals for $30 per person, including all taxes, tip and a glass of wine. Open daily 11:30 am to 11 pm. Fully licensed. Access: barrier-free. Rating: NNNSAVING GRACE (907 Dundas West, 899-9186) This deceptively anonymous space — white-on-white walls, minimalist decor, 20 seats tops — offers stylish salads and sandwiches at wallet-friendly prices. Once word gets out about their no-reservations weekend brunches, west-siders will line up overnight. Best: super brunch menu of corn cakes with fiery mango chutney grilled croissant with melting Brie, pear and walnut with honey-basil-dressed greens weekday soups like coconut-chicken or Cuban bean, both kicked with Thai peppers sandwiches en baguette of peameal, avocado and tomato or roasted eggplant, tomato and mozzarella drizzled with homemade pesto sorta niçoise or romaine with blue cheese, bacon and pear salads. Complete meals for $10 per person, including taxes and tip. Open Tuesday to Friday 11 am to 7 pm, and for brunch Saturday and Sunday 10 am to 4 pm. Closed Monday and holidays. Unlicensed. Smoke-free. Cash only. Access: 2-inch step at door, five steps to washroom. Rating: NNNTEATRO (505 College, 972-1475) Designed to the nines, this suave wine bar attracts fashionistas and oenophiles alike. Tapas-like portions make perfect grazing fodder, but the prices quickly add up. Expect major attitude. Warning: a very small room, very noisy when crowded. Best: poached tomato with buffalo mozzarella, anchovy fillets and black olive tapenade cool veggie terrine of asparagus, red pepper, artichoke and eggplant seared strip loin and chunky Lincoln Log fries with house-made Dijon mayo a non-traditional take on Pernod-scented bouillabaisse — but it wouldn’t bankrupt the place to throw in a few more mussels, clams or shrimp. Complete dinners for $40 per person, including all taxes, tip and a glass of wine. Open Monday to Saturday 6 pm to midnight. Bar open till 2 am. Closed Sunday and holidays. Fully licensed. Access: one step at door, washrooms in basement. Rating: NNNVERVEINE (1097 Queen East, 405-9906) Downtown comes to Leslieville. This mid-size bistro from the folks who created Mistral serves classic European cuisine with contemporary spin. A smart room, smooth service and a kitchen with potential make this neighbourhood noshery a hit. Friday/Saturday reservations recommended. Best: mussels steamed in mango butter garnished with slivered spring onion maple-glazed chicken with grilled corn ‘n’ fresh fava succotash Provimi veal-liver terrine daily lunchtime $7 sandwich specials with first-rate frites bratwurst and rosti sauced with caramelized onion jus at brunch. Complete dinners for $40 per person ($20 at lunch or brunch), including all taxes, tip and a glass of wine. Open for dinner Tuesday to Saturday 6 to 10 pm, for lunch Wednesday to Friday 11:30 am to 3 pm, and for brunch Saturday 10 am to 3 pm and Sunday 10 am to 4 pm. Fully licensed. Access: barrier-free, washrooms in basement. Rating: NNN