BIFF’S BISTRO: Another O&B spot disappoints

416-860 0086   |    $16 - $36 mains


I’ve talked a bit about being disappointed with O&B restaurants because my first time at each of them always seems to be underwhelming. I find the service is always good, the selection seems appealing and the spaces are beautiful…the only problem is I never really like the food. Luma had changed my mind a bit after returning recently, so I decided to give Biff’s on Front a shot. 


Honestly, this menu looked certifiably appealing to me. There were tons of classic french dishes from the starters, to mains and bistro specialties. Biff’s even serves cheval (horse!). I was pretty excited to get tasting.

The picture of butter you see above was an odd way to start the night. The bread came out as usual (a decent sliced baguette) accompanied by a ramekin of regular, spreadable butter by all appearances. Weird thing was I could have sworn there was a noticeable aftertaste of oysters. The other two at the table conveyed similar sentiments. I kinda liked it. Unfortunately, our server said that it shouldn’t have any aftertaste. Weird.

The chef also sent out some house-made grainy mustard that had a pleasant - and intentional - bitter aftertaste. That along with some house-made pickles were a nice start.

Our first main was the pork belly with spaetzle and fennel (above). The pork belly piece itself was the largest I’ve seen in a main. Unfortunately, it was a big miss: chewy on the outside (not crispy), meat wasn’t tender, and the melt-in-your-mouth fatty part was barely there. Also, the spaetzle looked, felt, and tasted like soft breadsticks, which definitely wasn’t we were expecting. I just didn’t get this dish at all.

Next had another large portion, this time of smoked sweetbreads with potatoes, wild mushrooms and a creamed leek sauce. My first bite of everything was decent, but this got bland from the second taste onward. I couldn’t pick out the green-coloured oil/sauce, which I wish had imparted a stronger herb flavour to keep the dish interesting. I understood the concept, but I just didn’t think it delivered on it.

We finished with a crowd-pleasing trio of profiteroles stuffed with vanilla ice cream, covered in chocolate, caramel and almonds. This was undoubtedly an extra-safe choice to end the meal and it paid off. The chocolate was darker than I expected which I found made the topping of almonds more complimentary and the caramel more contrasting. 

Service and Ambience

Despite the food not being great, Biff’s lived up to the positives of O&B restaurants: the service is awesome and the spaces are beautiful. 

Our server was super friendly, knowledgeable about the menu, and checked up on us the perfect amount. Probably one of the better servers I’ve had across all my restaurant visits in the city.

The Reco?

I’m giving this two stars because the only things I enjoyed were the pickles, profiteroles and unintentionally oyster-kissed butter. Neither of the mains were very good in our opinion, despite their size, and that just doesn’t make me want to come back and sample anything else. On the bright side, I hear Auberge du Pommier is O&B’s best. Perhaps that should be next…

Other reviews:
  Toronto Life   |     Chu on This

 Posted by: Jacob, Visited Mar 30, 2012

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