If you’re a fan of French and Québecois cuisine, if you’re curious to try it, or if you’d like to impress your date with casual yet classy European dining, I heartily recommend Le Papillon on Front. A tried-and-true spot for authentic food from l’Hexagone and la belle province, Le Papillon on Front offers an elegant dining ambiance and a varied selection of appetizers, main courses, and desserts.
Le Papillon is spacious and refined, with tall ceilings, brick walls, and dark wood accents. Spot lighting and candles give a soft, intimate glow. The restaurant is single-floor and quite big, with the general dining area divided by a bar featuring a floor-to-ceiling wine rack facing the entrance.
For anyone who’s gotten bored with the standard meat and potatoes menu, Le Papillon provides intriguing and delicious alternatives. To start, hors d’oeuvres include crevettes mignonettes (tiger shrimp in garlic butter), rillettes de canard (French duck pâté paste), escargots, camembert fritters, as well as an assortment of salads and soups. Main course features tourtière (traditional Québecois meat pie), magret de canard (grilled duck in orange sauce), steaks including filet mignon, and a selection of lamb, pork, seafood and pasta dishes.
There are also the crêpes, a specialty at Le Papillon. In fact, the restaurant started off as a crêperie in the 70s. While Le Papillon serves crêpes for dessert like one would expect, their main course crêpes are definitely worth trying, served with a wide selection of fillings including beef, lamb, shrimp, chicken, ham, and all-vegetarian. A side order of Québecois maple syrup often complements the crêpe well.
Then there are the desserts. The traditional Québecois sugar pie, tarte au sucre, is available, along with items such as croustade aux pommes (apple crumble with ice cream), meringue ice cream, crème brûlée, pouding chômeur (golden cake with caramel and ice cream), and yes, lots of dessert crêpes.
For lunch and brunch, the menus are quite similar to what is offered for dinner, with the meal crêpes, pastas, soups, and salads all available. The main differences in the selections are that the main course dishes are replaced by sandwiches for lunch, and by eggs and omelettes for brunch.
The servers at Le Papillon were friendly, attentive, well-composed, and they could also speak French.
My main course dish was the crêpe au poulet, which was a bit light; I needed the soupe du marché to fill my appetite. The other main course dishes like steaks are probably more filling.
Le Papillon is a mid-priced eatery, with most hors d’oeuvres at $8 to $9, main courses from $16 for the crêpes to around $26 for the steaks, and dessert from $5 to $7.
68 Front St. East, at the intersection of Front St. and Church St.
By transit: the closest subway station is King. From the station, walk east on King St. until you hit Church St., and then head south to Front St. Le Papillon is on the south side of Front, just left of the intersection.
By car: Street and lot parking are available on Church St. north of the Front St. intersection.
Lunch: Tuesday to Friday: Noon–2:30pm
Weekend Brunch: Saturday to Sunday: 11am-3pm
Dinner: Tuesday to Sunday: 5pm-close