I might be the only person on the planet who doesn’t swoon at the mention of Paris, and by extension, France. Yes, I loved seeing the Louvre and Sacré-Cœur, the food – nutella crepe sandwiches, baguettes warm, crusty and fresh, cheese, bottles of wine, steak frites, – and walking from Montmartre to the Eiffel Tower, but overall, Paris was rather wet, unfriendly and gray. It serves as a reminder that for me, people make the city, and my memories of Paris (despite the grandeur of the attractions, the history and the food) are quiet, lonely and sad. I frequently imagine going back to Europe, and Paris has never made the re-visit list.
Located on Spadina and Queen, in downtown Toronto, entering Jules felt like what I had imagined Paris would feel like (before I went there): charming, casually (rustically, even) elegant with a certain air of je ne sais quoi (nonchalance maybe?), a little bit of amusement in the atmosphere. They had jazz music playing the background, but there was also the bzz bzz bzz of random conversations floating in the air that added to the ambiance. A large wooden table was placed on one side of the room, smaller tables on the other, and several tables outside on the patio for a warm summery day. Most of them were full. There were some people who were dining alone, not at all out of place. There were also some groups chitchatting away, very much at home.
The menu is written on chalkboards hung up on the right side of the wall, above a row of small, square, intimately placed tables, and has the best selection of all the comfort French food you could want: steak frites,Côte de bœuf, cornish hen, veal chops, a wide variety of sandwiches, quiches and crepes, and for dessert – pies, creme brulee and cake! Altogether, a casual, welcoming place that deserves to be the gem that it is.
After eating here (we had the Côte de bœuf for two, with the juices from the beef sopped up by airy, crusty bread, and spilling onto the shoestring frites and salad), all you’d want is a cigarette in one hand, a glass of wine (or coke) in the other. You take it for granted that the conversation will continue. The night should never end. You feel satiated. And indulgent. As though you had the best thing going, and all the time in the world to enjoy it. And that maybe, just maybe, it might be time to go visit Paris again.