Salut mes amis! I finally made my way to the fabulous French and fancy-free Aloette at Queen & Spadina. Opening back in 2017, Aloette is the sister restaurant of the modern fine dining experience by Alo. But where Alo is $$$$, Aloette is $$$. Embracing facets of French food while maintaining a more modest price point, Aloette boasts approachable indulgence, located just below Alo!
Walking into Aloette, the space looks like a luxury diner from the barrel vault ceiling to the rustically chic leather booths and golden swivel stools lining a bar that houses all sorts of colourful bottles of liqueurs and wines. Nostalgic yet modern, the space reflects what the cuisine is all. Named in Canada’s 100 Best Restaurants, the resto is classy with comforting à la carte menu options.
To kick things off we browsed the beverage menu pages, where my dining companion and best friend Rosie opted for a raspberry daiquiri that was gorgeously petite but man-oh-man did it pack a punch! I was instead thrilled to see a collaboration between Aloette and Pearl Morissette. Offering a chardonnay and a lemberger, I decided on the latter. A variety that I haven’t tried before, it’s been popping up a lot in my recent wine research so I was more than happy to taste test it during dinner. Also known as Blaufrankisch, this grape is grown mainly in Austria, Hungary and Germany and yields a subtly smooth and medium-bodied red, with flavours of black pepper, blackberry and forest making it an ideal pairing for earthy and savoury dishes like grilled meats, mushrooms and pungent cheeses. Despite not having the ideal pairing, I loved this red just the same!
As for food, while I’d seen much praise over the iceberg wedge salad dressed chive cream, avocado and an abundance of wild rice grains, there were a few other dishes that instead caught my eye, starting with the roasted king salmon. A strong start to our meal, the salmon was beautifully cooked, its skin crackling delicately as I took my first bite. Accompanied by a creamy vermouth infused sauce along with pearls of caviar and charred turnip, the dish was unreal and super satisfying.
Up next, came crispy broccoli that saw stalks of the cruciferous vegetable covered in a spicy gochujang sauce and topped with a sprinkle of chopped peanuts and cilantro leaves. While I did love the first bite, I found that the broccoli was a bit too saucy for my liking and seemed to be a competin with the other flavours.
Following was another staple of the Aloette menu, the burger and fries. Cooked to a perfect medium-rare, the meat itself was flavourful and excellently stacked under a slice of beaufort cheese (a raw cow’s milk cheese from France, similar to gruyère), caramelized onions, lettuce ribbons and a creamy aioli. Simple yet elevated, I really enjoyed this burger. As for the fries, they appeared to be double or triple fried based on their uber crispy crunch and golden colour. Those bad boys were served with a bloody mary dipping sauce, which I found to be quite inventive.
Feeling pretty full at this point (we were only in two, but ordered some pretty rich items!), I declared that we needed to try a slice of Aloette’s mile-high lemon meringue pie. This is where we really started to struggle because that is a laaaaarge piece of pie! A crumbly crust packed with tangy citrus curd, the pie was topped with tall dollops of torched meringue. I enjoyed the first few bites, but it did become too decadent very quickly.
Overall, I liked the vibe and ambiance of the restaurant–it was littered with young professionals on a Friday night. The price point wasn’t as bad as I had anticipated and I did leave feeling quite full after ordering four dishes split between two people. While I’m glad I tried it, I’m not sure it’ll become a spot that I’ll continue to flock to when I’m downtown. I am, however, still very much curious about its higher-end sister, Alo.