The Place: Tucked in at the back of The French Baker, a small bread and pastry shop in the heart of The Byward Market, sits a small unassuming bistro that serves rather elaborate modern French fare with efficiency and without white tablecloths.
The Deal: Start with a Mimosa or a sparkling Kir Royale to set the mood for a lunch of rich indulgences featuring the kind of dishes we’re more accustomed to seeing served in the evening. The seasonal menu changes often: recent choices included oven-roasted boneless quail, a daily special of duck confit, and a homemade acorn squash tortellini with roasted mushrooms, pine jelly crème fraiche, and a truffled white balsamic vinaigrette. There’s always a fresh seasonal soup and a daily sandwich option.
The Dish: Benny’s makes its own salmon gravlax and serves it in generous slices sandwiched between an oozy sunnyside up egg and a warm, creamy lemon-laced fingerling potato salad with some greens thrown in for good measure. A dollop of good olive tapenade adorns the dish. On my visit, the soup of the day was a roasted squash puree that didn’t skimp on full-fat cream — and yet the earthy flavour of the vegetable shone through. The glorified salad was an ideal companion for the bakery’s fresh bread.
The Cost: Mains range from $13 to $19.
Benny’s Bistro, 119 Murray St., 613-789-6797.
Lunch hours: Monday to Friday, 11:30 a.m. – 2:30 p.m.