Harbord Village’s Newest Eatery Is a Tribute to Classic French Dining
Parquet seamlessly pairs its elevated food and wine menu with chic yet understated interiors by Solid Design Creative
Photography by Daniel Neuhaus
Parquet has all the ingredients of an old-school Parisian restaurant: a stylish bar dressed in Calacatta verde marble; rich, crimson leather banquette seating; and amber lighting so warm your heart could melt. The only thing missing from this French bistro‘s carefully curated ambiance is a faint haze of cigarette smoke decorating the coffered ceiling. Despite its in vogue image, at the core of Parquet’s interior design is a profound sense of simplicity.
Upon entry, guests are greeted by a cozy cocktail bar. “We wanted the bar to be at the front of the space with a street view to create an accessible and welcoming first impression,” says Ian Rydberg, founder and principal designer of Solid Design Creative. “It mirrors a very European-style dining approach where you can stop by to grab a bite or a quick drink without any formality.”
The space at 97 Harbord Street that once housed Flock has been completely transformed by way of Solid Design Creative’s full-gut renovation. Rydberg introduced quintessentially French design elements into the space that he believes will tell a story as it ages. “Our hope is that Parquet is here for years to come, so that it can gracefully wear with time,” says Rydberg; noting the gently patinaed leather booths and parquet flooring to which the restaurant’s name is inspired.
This spring, Parquet’s capacity will double with the opening of its French-style outdoor patio. “The patio will encompass a lively French café concept that energizes people as they walk by,” says Rydberg. “It’s important for us to bring that sense of life, not only to the restaurant, but to the neighbourhood as well.”
Beyond its classic French inspiration, Parquet’s design is heavily informed by its food and drink menu, something head chef Jeremy Dennis describes as “comfort-first cuisine.” The bistro’s seasonal menu intersects classic French and Canadian dishes, each determined by locally grown, and available, produce. “We’re not afraid to, in a very Torontonian way, take non-traditional approaches to classic French dishes,” says Dennis. “Even in the way that we choose to plate our food, similarly to Parquet’s interior design, it’s all about balancing elegance and a very down-to-earth sense of comfort.”
In response to the hit that Toronto’s culinary scene endured over the course of the pandemic, Parquet’s simple concept addresses the city’s need for comfortable and reliable social spaces. “Our aim is to be an institution in the city,” says co-owner Daniel Bernstein. “We hope to be just as relevant in ten or fifteen years as we are today, and that Parquet remains a space for locals and visitors to come together, relax and enjoy each other’s company.” Designed for the Toronto of tomorrow as much as the Toronto of today, Parquet’s ethos of longevity will be determined with time. But for now, bon appétit!