Benny's Bistro
Weekend Brunch at Benny's Bistro
Benny's Bistro
Benny's Bistro
Benny's Bistro
Benny's Bistro
Benny's Bistro
Benny's Bistro
Benny's Bistro
Benny's Bistro
Benny's Bistro
Weekend Brunch at Benny's Bistro
Weekend Brunch at Benny's Bistro
Foods from Benny's Bistro

2010 Apr 29
Why oh why must this restaurant be so far away from my work? In a way I guess it's good, it saves me from eating lunch out every single day. And when I do finally make my way over there, it's so worth it. I make it sound like they're off the beaten path. But it's actually me who is. Right down in the heart of the Byward Market, this gem is a must for lunch.

I had been raving continuously about the food to one of my coworkers until he finally said, what are we waiting for? Let's go! So we did. And now here I am, drooling over my keyboard as I type.

Luckily the menu isn't huge, or I'd have a helluva time deciding. I still did anyway. Torn between the sweet soy braised pork belly sandwich with pickled vegetables and curry aioli, the pan roasted Lake Erie pickerel and the seared scallops. My coworker Scott helped in my decision making by ordering the pickerel. Then at least, I'd get to try two of the three. I finally decided on the scallops.

I was in awe when my meal arrived. A row of firm, fleshy seared scallops lined the plate. Parallel to these golden beauties was a thick slice of double smoked bacon that acted as a slide from the tower of salt cod gnocchi, grilled King Eryngii mushroom and fava bean salad to the roasted chipolinni onion at the other end. The rich moistness of the salt cod gnocchi made each morsel fuse together, almost like a fish cake. I swear it was my favourite thing on the plate. Curly slivers of pickled beets and deep green leaves added a rich punch of colour to the overall ocre hue of the dish.

Before my first bite, I had food envy looking at Scott's golden crumbed Lake Erie Pickerel filet. Perched on a soba noodle salad with sweet soy braised Shitaki mushroom and pickled daikon radish, this fish was cooked to a fork flaking tenderness. A pool of mild dashi stock was the ideal sauce for each ingredient.

Upon presentation of a visually striking pear tart, we couldn't help but secure the order. The sweetness of the velvety filling in this generous dessert was underpinned by hints of tartness from the slivers of pear. A gelatinous shellac gave it a glamorous sheen. What a way to end a marvelous lunch.

2010 Apr 24
The restaurant is open-concept and bright. It’s basically one big room that houses the kitchen and the eating area. The bistro-style seating for 30 is very, very cozy. The walls are painted in bright colours and pieces of art dress up the eating area. The checkered floors are quirky and bring back old-school memories. I loved the tin ceiling!

I checked out this restaurant for a Sunday brunch in March. We arrived at about 10:10 a.m. since their website indicated that the brunch was served from 10:30 a.m. - 2:30 p.m. and they don't take reservations. We were seated right away and the brunch menu was brought to us.

The server brought bread and butter to the table for us to munch on as we figured out what we wanted for our meal. It was unfortunate that none of us appreciated the plate of yummy-looking bread that was brought to us. We didn't 'get' it. We thought it was too early in the day for that much bread and we would have ruined our awakening appetite if we chowed down on it.

The others had regular coffee but I tried their latté. I love to drink coffee in a bowl so I was happily surprised to get my latté served handle-free! The coffees were good. Both types had a nice strength to them and had full flavour.

One diner had the Yukon Gold potato and pumpkin gratin, maple cured pork loin, soft poached eggs and Hollandaise sauce for $16. The pumpkin could have been more prominent in the gratin dish because we couldn’t taste it at all.

Another diner had the savoury buckwheat pancake, double smoked pork shoulder, shaved Gruyère, sunnyside egg, apple and Savoy cabbage remoulade for $15.

I had the aged white cheddar stuffed French toast, roasted Royal Gala apple compote, brown butter oat crumble and salted caramel for $14. Some of the bites of French toast had Cheddar, but most didn’t seem to.

The three of us shared a side of double smoked bacon and fingerling potatoes for $5. It was the standout dish. The potatoes were crispy on the outside and soft on the inside. They were deliciously seasoned. There was a Generous amount of side pork and the pieces were huge!

All in all, the food was tasty. I could tell that a lot of thought went into each dish to combine and layer the flavours and textures. The combinations were interesting and for the most part worked well together.

The prices were a little on the high side in my opinion, considering there were no side dishes served with the mains.

I enjoyed my Benny’s Bistro experience but I have to admit that I probably won’t go back for seconds. Taking into account only the food and the prices, I would eat there again. There's some tasty food to be had here. The reason I don’t imagine myself going back is that I found it loud, bustling to the point of it not being relaxing and too close for comfort with the other diners.

The restaurant is wheelchair-accessible. There is metered parking on the street and parking lots nearby for which you must pay.

I agree, natural light would be nice. I found the lighting a bit harsh.

2010 Feb 25
First visited Benny's this past weekend. It is okay I guess. Wish it had a window. The bakery is a dream, I will give it that, but the brunch was a bit weak. Coffee was good. Service was okay, but slow. Meals at brunch sounded too good to be true. We are not big eaters, don't like the over stuffed plate thing some places do, but we were surprised. Could have used a salad on the side to balance the plate out. Apples and cheese are a great combo, but the Cheddar cheese French toast had too much cinnamon. Not enough apples. It was more like a cinnamon roll than French toast. Some fresh fruit along side would have been a nice addition. My friends fish was okay, but he wouldn't order it again. Then again, he told me he wouldn't be back again. BYE BENNY.

2010 Jan 18
I've been to the French Baker more times than I can count but for some strange reason, I've never ventured down the little hallway that lead to Benny's Bistro. That is, until this past weekend. I immediately loved how open, casual, colorful and comfortable the place was and made a mental note to think of some sort of social event that I could book the place for in the evenings.

Once we had a chance to take a look at the menu, we were majorly overwhelmed. Everything sounded delicious! It took quite some fussing over to finally decide on what we were having and we didn't even realize until after that we hadn't even noticed the omelet menu on the side.

I ordered the bass filet with quinoa and a beet salad. The listing on the menu was much more descriptive but I can't quite remember much of it now. Nevertheless, I do remember how delicious it was. The presentation of the plate was gorgeous, the bass under the colorful beet salad was wonderfully moist and the quinoa was in a savoury mushroom broth. It was definitely an indulgent and thoroughly satisfying brunch.

2009 Jul 29
The fact that it took me this long to visit this impeccable little gem makes me very sad. Many years ago when I used to work in the market, I heard they had great soup, and would duck in and get some to take out, not even looking at the rest of the menu. The soup was indeed fantastic, but I'm kicking myself now for leaving it at that. No reason to dwell on the past now though. I can easily add them to my tiny list of restaurants I consider to be 5 stars. I must admit however, I did get some pretty special treatment. My husband and I met chef Scott Adams at an Urban Element event where we immediately fell in love with his cooking style and amazing dishes. Today is my birthday and my husband asked me where I wanted to go, Benny’s Bistro immediately rolled off my tongue. This modest bistro is bright and casual with a seasonal menu that will leave you speechless. I finally decided on the salmon gravlax with yukon gold potato & doubled creamed feta dumpling, pickled red cabbage, tarragon and flying fish roe crème fraîche. My husband went for the pan-seared sea scallops, spring pea and sunchoke purée, sweet soy braised pork belly, shaved carrot and pea shoot salad, smokey bacon and cider vinaigrette. Sounds amazing doesn't it? We ended up not having either, but I thought I'd write it down to get your taste buds going. This is where the special treatment kicks in. Knowing we are open to just about anything, and I'm guessing the fact that it was my birthday, Scott came over and asked if we'd be interested in doing a 3 course lunch of his choice. I LOVE doing that! So trying to stay focused and not fall off my chair from excitement, I calmly said yes.

Our first dish, a so-called amuse-bouche that could have easily been divided into four, was seared yellowfin tuna collar. This silky taste of heaven was served with a chervil and beet salad lightly drizzled with oil and with a tiny teaser of dijon to give it a bit of spice. A fantastic start to say the least!

Next came the absolute best soup I have ever had in my entire life, no lie. A shitake mushroom purée that had an alluring smokey flavour. In the center of this dreamy potage layed a slice of sweet soy and apple brushed pork belly and grilled scallop. The combination of each of these ingredients was perfect – I don't know how else to put it. PERFECT.

Our main was a tender, mouthwatering onglet de boeuf nestled between a fried egg and an arugula and colourful new potato salad – purple, red, white and yellow ones to be exact. And the meat was cooked to perfection, red and juicy inside. The sampling of moroccan olive tapenade on the side added a wonderful saltiness to the dish. To drink we had the delicious Oyster Bay Sauvignon blanc.

For dessert, a beautiful candle lit chocolate mousse covered in slivered chocolate flakes and paired with a rhubarb purée reminded me of being a kid again. I used to love black forest cake and the combination of the cherry and chocolate. This is the adult version and so indulgent.

I can't say enough about this marvelous restaurant. I just wish they were open for dinner and that my work was not so far away. I highly recommend a reservation. I think we just got lucky as they can get quite busy. Also give yourself a bit of time, this is not a lunch to be rushed. Although a sandwhich and soup could easily be taken out. It's perfect with a friend, on a business lunch or on your own. Sandwich and salad goes for $13, mains $14 to $19 with an added cup of soup, salad or cheese plate for $5.

Thanks so much Scott! We had a great time.

2009 Jul 17
I ate here for lunch today, and it was absolutely fantastic.

I had the hanger steak which came with a small grilled cheese sandwich (name of the cheese: forgotten) and a tomato and arugula salad with cherry tomatoees, pecorino romano and an awesome vinaigrette that involved sherry wine and horseradish. The menu on their site isn't the current menu, so I'll have to leave it at that, though there was more to the dish than what I have mentioned.

The steak was perfectly cooked, the sandwich was great, and the salad was probably one of the best leafy salads that I've had in a long time. I work nearby, so the fact that the food is this tasty is going to be bad for my wallet.

I've been here once for brunch before, and had one of the best brunches I have ever eaten, so this place is definitely solid in my mind.

2009 Jul 2
I went to Benny's Bistro with my wife today. We met chef Scott Adams at a raw cooking evening at the Urban Element and he told us about Benny's. We finally got to go for lunch and I was extremely impressed with the food.

I went for the red pear and brie grilled cheese sandwich which came with nice light side salad. It was just so damn good. I will definitely be stealing this sandwich to make at home. I'll probably add some red onion to it.

My wife had the seared scallops served on braised sweet soy pork belly (outstanding) with a nice little salad (truffle oil dressing I believe) with pea and sunchoke purée.

I will be back and I will bring some fellow foodie friends.

2009 Jun 21
I went there for lunch with a co-worker and ordered Pan-seared sea scallops.
Wonderful. Absolutely delicious perfectly cooked scallops paired with the crispy ham. I also loved the purees that the dish came with and the cute little carrot salad on the side. My co-worker ordered a lasagna that came with a small side salad. That was okay, but nothing too spectacular.
I thought the service was decent since there were only like 4 other tables when we were there at around 1:30pm on a Wednesday. The waitress was quite nice and always gave us more bread without asking. The food took quite a while to prepare but the presentation was delicate and the scallops are to die for.

2008 May 12
FIH: see my comment under your "hash" topic on the forum

Marno: PHEW! As I told Mousseline, I feel like less of an ogre now that you have backed me up a bit :) I hated to diss Benny's.....and I agree that the other server seemed friendly as well.

Mousseline: thanks for the info, helps to put things into perspective and as I mentioned in my review, we will not let this experience deter us from trying it again and hopefully that server and busperson were just having a bad weekend....
On a happier note we picked up some FAB macarons on our way out but sadly at 12:30 there were no more croissants left (now I know to pick them up on the way in.....)

2008 May 10
ksw and Marno,

It sucks that you both had a bad experience the same weekend.As for the surly server, can you pm me a little more info so I can tell which person served you (FYI I have no influence at all in what goes on in the bistro, I can only pass your comments along).

A couple of things:

clattering dishes....the restaurant was added after the bakery, and the dish system leaves alot to be desired. The servers and busperson have to take the dishes through the line where the cooks are working. It is a pain for everyone. And with no soft surfaces back there there is a lot of noise.

the gratin dish is really rich...I love to have it when I work Saturdays, fortunately I don't work many of them.

Brunch is completely frantic, every single week. The bistro staff are hopping all day, and no one gets a staff meal til at least 4 pm. It's just too busy usually, this doesn't always make for a nice relaxing brunch. Benny's does serve breakfast the other 5 days of the week and the pace is much more laid-back. If you were in during a weekday you'd have a much better time, I'm sure of it.

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2012 Sep 29
Portion sizes have shrunk since we visited 4 years ago. Pictured here is Savoury buckwheat pancake, double smoked pork shoulder, shaved Gruyere, sunnyside egg, apple & Savoy cabbage remoulade ($15)

I was a little surprised to find thin slices of deli-style ham in here. I mean, sure, ham *is* smoked pork shoulder, but based on the menu description I sort of expected chunks of pork inside the buckwheat pancake. What I got was more of an anglo-style "cordon blue" treatment than an impressive French product.

The apple/cabbage remoulade was really very nice. Still, for the price, a superior brunch is available across the river. (ref: Odile , Edgar).

2009 Feb 28
Love, love, love Benny's for brunch! Went there today with friends, and the French toast with aged cheddar, oat crumble with brown butter and salted caramel was amazing. The portion was just perfect, I was completely full after I was done. Complete with that came a frothy cappuccino with Illy coffee. I also tasted their orange juice and it was very fresh (I'm pretty sure if was freshly pressed). My partner asked that the egg be removed from his plate, since he doesn't eat them. The cook compensated by adding a lot of salmon. Service was very nice, everyone was smiling, it was awesome. Would definitely, definitely go back!

2008 Mar 31
My Pan-seared gnocchi, crispy lardons, spinach, poached eggs and chipotle mayo were just amazing. Again, the photo makes it look like a puny portion but it was right for me (and I eat well).

The poached eggs were top-notch aside from a slight tang of vinegar noticeable when eating just the white (I know you need some vinegar in poaching water to keep things together but I think they use a lot). Perfectly cooked, though. The crispy lardons were delectable and married perfectly with the pile of spinach buried underneath. The gnocchi were pleasantly chewy and very nice to eat. All in all a delicious feast!

2008 Mar 31
Wifey's Croque Madame with green salad was phenomenal (she let me try some)! Everyone should try this. Our dishes, and also those we saw delivered to other tables, were delightfully presented and extremely tantalizing.

This photo doesn't do justice to the generous size of this plate!