In spite of its name, bistro turns out to be nice, not naughty

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I’m trying not to eat too much before my meal arrives, but a small bowl of white bean dip is threatening to be my undoing. Served with slices of beautifully crusty baguette, the white beans have been blessed with garlic. The result is so delicious, my two guests and I keep tucking in.

We’ve come to Coquine Bistro for lunch, but even at 1 p.m. on a Sunday it’s all about brunch. So, despite our forays into the bean dip, we fall into line.

Our waitress is extraordinarily helpful, and she has us laughing within two minutes of sitting down. She’s definitely a character.
One of my guests orders Eggs Benedict, a classic ($14), and it offers no surprises. The eggs are perfectly poached, the ham is nicely smoked and the Hollandaise is lemony.

The Lyonnaise potatoes aren’t. These are diced, lightly herbed home fries. My first guest pronounces them good, but they’re not the expected onion-laced classic.

My second guest asks for the quiche of the day, with roasted vegetables and cheddar ($16). It comes with a bowl of beautifully crisped fries, which we all “share”.

How does one make fries this crisp and get them to stay that way through most of the meal?

And then there’s the quiche, about which she goes into rapture: “light-as-a-feather pastry.”

I have to concur, this quiche is gorgeous. I taste spinach and broccoli, and the cheese has a tangy bite. My other guest samples it and quips: “Hmm, maybe real men **can** eat quiche. This is wonderful.”

I have chosen from the lunch menu a salad of roasted beets and walnuts ($14).

Generous portions of yellow, red and candy-stripe beets and new potatoes are arrayed on a bed of baby spinach, and topped with goat cheese and candied walnuts. The acidity of the goat cheese is a perfect foil for the sweetness of the beets and walnuts. The dressing is light with a hint of Dijon mustard that doesn’t interfere with the other flavours.

But I am disappointed. These beets don’t seem to have the caramelized edges one expects on roasted beets. I chose this dish for roasted beets and they seem to be so lightly roasted that they simply don’t live up to the name.

Nonetheless, I have to stress, despite being misnamed this salad is glorious.

Coquine — which means “naughty” — has a Parisian bistro ambience, a deliberate attempt by owner Rob Prete to emulate his favourite dining spots. The menu is reasonably priced and the dishes reasonably portioned, which explains why it’s busy. Coquine L’Express next door is an option for grab-and-go or a quick meal.

Coquine Restaurant, 2075 Yonge St., 416-322-6767.