Bacchanal aims to live up to it’s very definition. Newly opened in the Sudbury Street and Dovercourt pocket, this modern French bistro is trained in the classics, setting a mood meant to linger, over flirty French cocktails no less. Meaning drunken revelry, Bacchanal is the kind of place you wish were on the corner of your own street, with a beacon of a bar that’s not only impressively stocked, but warm and inviting too.

(Bacchanal – RESTAURANT IS NOW CLOSED) Aiming to be the neighbourhood darling, courting more than just couples, Bacchanal is a sweet mistress, once you’ve dined here any other bistros will look dowdy in comparison. And with Lachlan Dennis (ex Le Sélect) we know this French is more than just truffles and baguettes. Helmed with co-conspirator Exec Chef Luke Donato (Campagnolo) the plates are staggered and stunning. From h’ordeuvres to pour commencer, then plat principals (bein sûr), the menu opens up the possibility of an actual shared experience, particularly the first round, with mounds of Jambon Blanc ($8) presented naturally with their warm bread + butter.
Oysters are a natural lead in as well, with daily selections in at MP with all the accoutrement. Slide in the Galantine de Volaille ($12) with buttery chantrelle mushrooms and a simple Salade Verte ($13) and you’ve got yourself the start of something beautiful. Evolving to the next course opens the wine list up even more, and with over 20 varietals by the glass, and a bounty more by the bottle, it’s good to know that you’re in safe hands with Lachlan there to guide you.

Salade Verte

The fresh and modern space is a complete do-ever from the previous tenant, the much maligned Recess, which failed to ring bells with it’s wonky concept that completely compartmentalized the dining room. “We busted it down, put a huge window into the kitchen, made the bar beautiful. It was a full gut job, kitchen included,” says Lachlan. The project took months, but that’s opening a restaurant for you. Bacchanal’s team runs deep, and they knew what they were getting into, and what they wanted out of it, from the get go.
“When I first approached Luke about being involved he was very keen, he already had a concept, straight away he said Bacchanal. And it was funny, because months earlier was my 40th birthday, we called it Lachlan’s 40th birthday Bacchanal.”
Bacchanal Salmon Mains draw attention and carry weight, yes, there’s the necessary Steak Frites ($24 here with Cafe de Paris butter), but also more ambitious options that fit the history and culture that Bacchanal seeks to play homage to. Truite des Fjords ($29) highlight the kitchen’s talents for cooking perfectly tender trout, while the Blanquette de Veau ($38) is a Parisian bistro classic- sweetbreads and veal breast combine with tender seasonal veg for a savoury and comforting plate.
Bacchanal Steak Frites
Bacchanal Poulet
Desserts are mandatory of course, with Baba au Rhum ($15) making top of the list. Paired with aperitifs at the bar, but bolder imbibers will select from the Absinthe menu, an undercover list that is a tribute to a bygone era, each cocktail unfolding another level of intensity.
Bacchanal dining room
There’s something quite special about coming across a corner French bistro like Bacchanal. The price point makes it doable for everyday, but you feel special enough to celebrate here too. But with drinks like the Guillotine (above, with The Dali), it can be easy to lose your head.
 Bacchanal absinthe
Thanks Bacchanal for inviting #AuburnLaneEats in!