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Anyone remember dining at Toronto’s La Chaumiere Restaurant on Church Street?

03 Dec

La Chaumiere Restaurant at 77 Charles Street East, near Church Street, opened in 1950, and was the city’s first truly French dining establishment. Its intimate atmosphere and excellent food were a culinary delight. I was greatly saddened when it closed its doors in 1988. The historic house where the restaurant was located was demolished, and was likely a parking lot for a few years. A housing co-operative opened on the site in 1995. Today, I cherish fond memories of dining in this fine restaurant.

When I wrote the book, “The Reluctant Virgin,” a murder mystery whose setting is 1950s Toronto, memories of this famous restaurant formed the basis for the section in the book when one of the police detectives, who is trying to capture a perverted serial killer, takes his girlfriend to La Chaumiere. The detective was a handsome young man, rather prudish in his outlook on life, but his girlfriend earned her living in the sex trade. The difference in their characters provides many amusing situations in this provocative novel.

 

           PICT0032

La Chaumiere Restaurant, picture from the author’s slide collection

From crime novel – The Reluctant Virgin

Jim Peersen drove to downtown Toronto with Samantha, to Church and Charles Street East, for an intimate dinner at the French restaurant, La Chaumiere. Samantha was particularly fond of the hors-d’oeuvres cart, which contained at least twenty appetizers, including escargot heavy with garlic, trays of stuffed olives, stuffed mushrooms, wine-marinated anchovies, pureed cottage cheese with cognac and scallions, and quenelles of shrimp.

Samantha had allowed her hair to grow, and it now almost touched her shoulders. It made her lose her pixie-look, but added a degree of sophistication and elegance. Her pale blue skirt and white satin blouse were chic, causing many an eye to admire her, both openly and surreptitiously. Jim did not realize that some of the glances were a result of his own appearance.

Samantha ordered the coq au vin and Jim the scallops Normandie. Over dinner, he told her about the teasing that the chief of detective was receiving at the station. This was because the newspapers had reported that the Vancouver chief of police had been involved in a scandal over gifts he had given to a young female companion. They had included diamonds, liquor, and money, and they had been quietly slipped to her while the man was still the chief of police.

The men at the Toronto precinct teased their own boss, Chief of Detectives Peckerman, wanting to know to whom he was “slipping” the goodies. Peckerman was not amused, Jim told Samantha. She laughed as Jim told her about the raunchy remarks.

“You had best be careful,” Samantha warned. “When the guys see your new Buick, they may wonder if you have been slipping your goodies somewhere in exchange for cash.”

For a link to the book “The Reluctant Virgin”: https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2011/11/17/second-book-of-the-toronto-trilogy-now-available-a-murder-mystery-in-1950s-toronto/

A link to the author’s Home Page: https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/ 

 
10 Comments

Posted by on December 3, 2011 in Toronto

 

10 responses to “Anyone remember dining at Toronto’s La Chaumiere Restaurant on Church Street?

  1. Steve Cook

    December 2, 2012 at 12:31 am

    yes I took a girl there in 1969 to impress her…don’t remember her name now,,, had Frog Legs Provencale,great dinner…,, my brother ran the the Imperial parking lot next door for a couple of years

     
    • Doug Taylor

      December 2, 2012 at 1:28 pm

      Hi,

      Nice to remember good times. I also took a date there to impress her. I believe it was in 1970. She enjoyed the tea cart with the appetizers.

       
  2. Steven and Shari

    December 29, 2012 at 5:56 pm

    We ate there many times in the 70’s…loved the food and the ambiance…

     
  3. Andre P.

    February 2, 2014 at 2:20 pm

    Hi, That was a great place to have dinner. We had dinner there a few times xin the early 80’s for special occasions. Was so so sad to see it go. Are dear friend Jane use to work there, what a wonderful place so cosy charming and the food was out of this world. This place was one of the best memories of Toronto.

     
  4. Donna Cane

    March 14, 2014 at 10:50 pm

    I am devastated. My husband proposed to me at La Chamiere 45 years ago. I was going to make a reservation for our anniversary on April 16rh, 2014…….getting old…er. Will check out George’s Spaghetti House with San Murata playing jazz violin………..

     
  5. Marilyn

    June 1, 2014 at 12:46 pm

    I dined there in the early ’80s on a visit to Toronto. The cart was practically the meal with the variety. First time I had periwinkles. The dear love of my life, now passed, took me there and then on to see Evita. What an evening and a memory. So sad to see places with such charm go. What’s becoming of our world, the appreciation of such simple pleasures.

     
  6. Peter

    October 28, 2014 at 4:15 pm

    My parents had their wedding reception there in 1955.

     
  7. Joanne Sharpe

    December 17, 2014 at 5:15 pm

    31 years ago today is were I was proposed to.

     
  8. Merle

    January 19, 2015 at 9:47 pm

    Went there often in the 70’s. I believe the Maitre D’s name was Max. He used to join us for a port after dinner. Some great memories and Oh the food. 🙂

     
  9. Mary

    September 4, 2015 at 9:36 pm

    I was in Grade 10, and was asked to my high school formal. There were three couples and before the dance we booked a table at LaChaumiere. I was pleasantly surprised that the price was not nearly as elevated as the reputation of the restaurant. This was in the 70s. I do remember that cart, but being an unintrepid diner I did not sample much of it. The steak I had was one of the best ever. And the service was warm, relaxed, very professional. A good memory.

     

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