Although it has been around since 1952, I only experienced the magnificent Duc de Lorraine for the very first time two years ago. Needless to say, it left a lasting impression.
Located on Côte des Neiges Road just off Queen Mary, this truly magical spot serves French pastries, seasonal cakes, viennoiseries and macarons, using traditional recipes by great French pastry chefs. Victoria Sørensen became the owner 14 years ago and she has truly developed this into a full-service restaurant, catering service, dessert emporium and a pastry shop all rolled into one.
We were thrilled to return recently to celebrate a special occasion, arriving at 12:30 p.m. on a Sunday to enjoy their spectacular brunch. General Manager and Event Manager Peter Maniatis greeted us upon arrival and placed us at a table on their spacious terrasse.
Duc de Lorraine has 52 seats inside and two terraces that can accommodate 100 diners. Victoria plans to keep the outdoor seating in place until the end of October. It can be insulated on a cool day or evening.
You never have to check the hours at Duc de Lorraine. The place is open every day of the year from 630 a.m. to 10:30 p.m. Brunch, always a treat, is served until 3 p.m. Their home delivery and pickup business went through the roof when COVID restrictions were in place and it continues to thrive.
We started off with some glasses of rosé prosecco and shared 12 splendid Prince Edward Island oysters. These items go very fast, so much so that when we ordered there were none left; moments later a new shipment arrived at the restaurant.
The brunch menu is a work of art. There are so many fabulous choices. Standing out to me were the superb renditions of Eggs Benedict. I opted for the lobster version comes with two eggs on a bagel, fresh lobster and hollandaise sauce, roasted potatoes and fresh fruit. I loved every morsel of this. There is also a version with filet mignon, crab and more.
As for the others, they decided to share some avocado toast with salmon and a heaping serving of lobster risotto, which got a huge thumbs up. There is also a nice selection of omelets, pancakes, and French Toast.
We could not resist choosing from the enormously decadent dessert menu, settling on the millefeuille double crème, fraisier (strawberry pastry) and mousse royale. Hats off to the barista for the amazing decaf latté served up, with a decorated heart at the top.
The Duc de Lorraine lunch and dinner menus look equally appealing. Their second menu, available from 11 am to closing time, has salads, soups sandwiches, burgers, quiche, pasta, steak, filet mignon, fish and shrimp just to name a few. Tapas dishes are served every night from 5 p.m. and are meant to be shared. I hope to check that off my list eventually.
Before you go, you need to explore the vast dessert shop. Everything is so beautifully showcased in glass display cases. We left with plenty of sweets to share with family and friends: a large strawberry tarte cake and a very generous array of pastries – millefeuilles, tiramisu and another fraisier.- as well as a croissant and a few Viennese pastries. We’ll be back for some macaroons.
Of course, a lot of brides and grooms come here to order their wedding cakes. On the day of our visit, Victoria was busy assembling two packages for some nuptials.
“We take care of many weddings,” Victoria says. “We deliver cakes to halls, hotels and rural locations in the townships and Laurentians.’’
Victoria notes with the hop-on-and-off red bus stopping right in front of the restaurant and the St. Joseph’s Oratory next door, tourists come to Duc de Lorraine in large numbers.
Lots of people come to celebrate birthdays. “We play a French song and the staff comes with sparkling candles and smiling faces clapping,” adds Victoria.
Duc de Lorraine welcomes over 250,000 customers a year, many of whom have been regulars for decades. The restaurant has a tremendous following on Instagram and Facebook, with some posts exceeding one million views.