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

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.



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.”

Related Posts

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

  1. 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

  2. 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.

  3. 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………..

  4. 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.

  5. 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. 🙂

  6. 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.

  7. MY father was the chef there for many years, started in the early 50s The Bianchi family owned the restaurant..I have many memories of being there, took phone reservations as a summer job in my teens.

    1. Yes, I remember dining there in 1955 some time. I chose it to propose to my girlfriend. I gave her the ring in the parking lot prior to going in. I guess I was thinking if she refused me , I wouldn’t take her to dinner!

      Bob Adams

      Sent from my iPad


      1. My father-in-law loved La Chaumiere and the owners and staff there loved him back. He often took his young family there in the 50’s and 60’s and they learned about superb food and proper manners in a restaurant. My first filet mignon ( I didn’t even know what it was) was in 1967, and my wife and I frequently went there until it closed. When our son was born in 1972 and we were kind of stuck at home, my father-in-law went to La Chaumiere and convinced them to prepare meals for us for take out, and this was something they probably wouldn’t have done for anyone else. We have nothing but great memories of a wonderful restaurant, and were devastated when it closed.

    2. If your father is still with us please thank him for many wonderful evenings. My parents store was around the corner on Yonge so many a Saturday night the where are we going for dinner was answered with La Chaumiere.

  8. Went there several times the first time was March 1968 with my girlfriend married her July 1968 great place to dine. Happy days

  9. Bringing back fond memories. My mom was francophone from Montreal and the family often dined there in the 1950’s. I specifically remember the frogs legs, escargot, and desert wagon. Such a long time ago when Toronto was a very different city.

  10. My Dear Uncle Bert Bianchi passed away June 30 2022. He ran the Le Chaumiere restaurant.
    May He Rest in Pease.
    He was a good Man

  11. Does anyone remember a restaurant on the southeast corner of Charles West and Bay? Because that’s where I had remembered La Chaumière, until seeing this post!

    (I KNOW I remember the dessert cart, young as I may have been.)

  12. I went to school with a classmate at Glendon College. Her name was Sandy Abate. I recall here commenting on how she helped out in the restaurant, as her family was associated with La Chaumiere. This was in the early 70’s. La Chaumiere and Barberian’s were the top restaurants in the city during those days.

  13. I went to school with a classmate at Glendon College. Her name was Sandy Abate. I recall here commenting on how she helped out in the restaurant, as her family was associated with La Chaumiere. This was in the early 70’s. La Chaumiere and Barberian’s were the top restaurants in the city during those days.

  14. Yesterday I was walking along Church Street and went looking for the restaurant. I remember dining there with my former husband in the late 60s and 70s.
    We would go there for special occasions. The trolly cart with appetizers was a real treat.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *