Merlot Restaurant
By YP Contributor

Decades of great food

Francois Duprix grew up in the kitchen, learning to cook from his mother and nurturing what would become a lifelong love of food. That love led to him owning his first restaurant in 1984, and several since, with Merlot opening in February 1998. “My idea of food was to always keep it as good and simple as possible,” says Francois. “But I think a restaurant is not only about food. It’s a blend of quite a few things like atmosphere, service, and food.”

The atmosphere created at Merlot comes from Francois’ attention to detail, from the décor to the music. The walls are decorated from his own collection of posters from French art galleries. “I wanted to have a plate in front of you and an atmosphere around you that you really enjoy so you leave the restaurant happy,” he says.

Most of the menu is in the French-style of cooking but the specials allow us to play with it a bit so we can create dishes that are different. The regular menu is friendly and more traditional in case some people might be afraid to try something new. - Francois Duprix, owner
Merlot owner Francois Duprix poses in his restaurant

Long-time chef

Francois has a close relationship with his head chef, Alain Rechter, one that dates back to Francois’ first restaurant in 1984.  “We get along well. He’s very flexible and can bring new ideas. He’s willing to try something different.”

The menu at Merlot offers typical French cuisine like duck confit and steak au poivre, there are three specials each day. The specials offers them a bit of space to be creative and add new dishes that are alternatives to the staples of the regular menu.

The inside of Merlot finely decorated.

Rooftop patio

Before it became Merlot, the space in Kingsway was originally a bar with a rooftop patio, which Francois turned into a separate seating area for the summer months. It was a ready made space Francois was happy to take advantage of, with the addition of a small kitchen to make the area complete.

The 60 seat patio at Merlot has a completely different menu from the downstairs. “We have to keep it different because the equipment is different,” says Francois. “The open air kitchen is great in the summer and the seating is relaxed and casual.”

The exterior of Merlot in Etobicoke.
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