The influx of new condos, townhouses and people into the King West area has brought with it a cluster of exciting restaurants to replace the flavours of past. One such restaurant, in the former location of Susur at 96 Tecumseth, is of particular interest. Amuse-Bouche serves high quality French cuisine with modern spices from experienced and creative chefs with a long culinary history.
Bertrand and Jason, from France and Barbados respectively, have taken on the risk of opening their first restaurant together and are optimistic about the future. They met while working in Toronto and ended up working together again at The Fifth before purchasing their current location. Bertrand worked as the pastry chef, while Jason was a sous chef. Cooking comes easy for Bertrand and Jason. In all their preparations the menu came dead last because for them that’s the easy part.
If success in the restaurant business depends on more than just good food, Jason and Bertrand will do fine. As friendly and welcoming owners, they have transformed their passion for food into a working restaurant.
Jason and Bertrand sat down with Torontoist on the Amuse-Bouche patio to talk about the restaurant, food, and their future.
Amuse-Bouche is open for business on Friday June 24th. Call 416-913-5830 for reservations. When things are rolling, Amuse-Bouche will be open Thursday-Sunday for lunch and Tuesday-Sunday for dinner.
Torontoist: How did Amuse-Bouche come about? How did it all come together?
Jason: I was on my way to France to do a little bit of a sabbatical. And 2 days before I got on the plane, I got a phone call, and someone said I should go check out this restaurant. You won’t believe it. I went down, had a look at it, and talk to the owner. I asked him if he wanted to sell, because we wanted to buy. He said, “Yeah I’m interested.” So I called Bert at something like 1am in the morning. I said, “Listen man; we’ve got a restaurant on the plate. Are you in or are you out?” He said, “What are you talking about” I said, “Nope, are you in or are you out?” He came down and to look at the place. I was supposed to meet (a friend) in France but ended up not going and couldn’t tell too many people. I stayed here to get the deal down. It took about three months, the whole time people thought I was in France. I had to hide. Then we finally we took over the place on May 17th and we haven’t stopped since.
Torontoist: What renovations have you done? I guess it has to be done pretty quick with restaurants.
Bertrand: There’s been 1 month of renovations so far.
Jason: Yeah, we pay rent from the moment we move in. We got in and decided this is how we want to do it, but really we were thinking about it for the past 3 months. Originally we wanted to only do renovations for 2 weeks. We wanted to be open mid June, but that got pushed back a week. It’s been just over a month of renovations, but we’ve got it up and running. We couldn’t believe that we could do it but we did.
Torontoist: How did you come up with the name and the design and everything?
Bertrand: Just brainstorming. Every night driving around finding deals on ovens and deals on glassware.
Jason: It all sort of came together right at the end.
Bertrand: Yeah, but we always had a vision and I think an idea that we wanted to keep it really French.
Jason: We wanted the new black awning. We found beautiful chandeliers.
Bertrand: Yeah — a real European look, really cozy and romantic. That’s what we were going for. We just shopped around. That’s how we came up with everything. Just by shopping.
Torontoist: What about the menu? Are there any themes?
Bertrand: The menu is going to be French-based, but with a lot of modern spices and twists. Like Jason is from Barbados, so they have a lot of spices involved. That’s what we are basing it on.
Torontoist: What would be a favourite dish off the menu?
Jason: Everything. Last night we did a soft opening for friends and family to work out all the kinks. We cook a bit of everything from everywhere, but the gazpacho water and oysters were amazing. It got rave review from everyone. We slept last night for the first time.
Torontoist: I guess you’ve been awake for the past month?
Jason: People kept asking us about the menu. They said, what about the menu, when are you going to work the menu. We said, “Listen, the menu we can do, it’s all this other stuff we have to worry about.” We started cooking last night at two in the morning and served our first customers at eight o’clock last night. We served eight courses.
Torontoist: What happens next?
Bertrand: We’re going to have the doors open this week. So many people have been walking by and asking questions. So we’re going to post the menu and let people come in for a drink and order some food. That’s what we want. Instead of people walking by and us saying we’re not open, we say come on in and see what we’re doing. And we’re going to be open on Friday, that’s going to be our first night. We’re going to take a few more days to practice in the kitchen. Get things ready. Then we’ll have a big grand opening in three weeks.