L'Avenue Bistro
By YP Contributor

French-Inspired Cuisine

Otta Zapotocky wanted to avoid boxing himself in when he opened L’Avenue Bistro in 2012, so he focused on making food that was French-inspired instead of strictly French. It was important for him to broaden his appeal if “you want good food,” he says. This is why you’ll find offerings like escargots, pan-seared trout and Ontario pork chop on the same menu, united by a common thread of delicate, well thought-out cooking.

Otta also wanted to avoid the notoriety of having a French restaurant built on snobbery and stuffiness, and instead fosters a relaxed, yet sophisticated, vibe for his bistro. “Basically, it’s a cozy, neighbourhood bistro with 40 seats,” he describes. The bistro features planks of reclaimed wood hangings, richly framed mirrors and warm hardwood floors. Otta wanted it to be the kind of place where people lifted themselves to new heights without feeling intimidated by the elegance.

I have 205 wines on the wine list, they’re from all around the world...It’s my baby. - Otta Zapotocky, owner
L'Avenue Bistro

Exotic Wines with Recognizable Flavours

In addition to the food and atmosphere, Otta spotlights wine at L’Avenue Bistro, which is not surprise as he has served as a sommelier in some of Canada’s top-ranked restaurants, including Toronto’s Nota Bene. “I have 205 wines on the wine list, they’re from all around the world...It’s my baby,” he laughs.

Otta has his own definite tastes in wine, preferring “earthy, rustic and old” blends. It’s a palate he’s carefully cultivated during his training as a sommelier—and it’s one he completely discards when working at L’Avenue Bistro. He’s long learned that he’s not in the business of cooking for himself, but rather serving something that appeals to others, and chooses his wines accordingly. “Everybody has a different palate,” he explains. “The wines that I buy will be suitable for 90% of the general consumers…I don't buy the wines that people recognize, but the flavours that people recognize; full-bodied, rich and smooth.”

L'Avenue Bistro

A Pronounced Wine Expert

Regular visitors to L’Avenue Bistro will know Otta, his story and his personality, but newcomers will be surprised to learn what area of the restaurant he gravitated to most naturally. “I grew up in a kitchen,” he says. “My mom is a chef and her four sisters are chefs, and my sister is a chef as well…but when I moved here, I realized I’m a people person. I don’t want to be stuck in a kitchen. I love cooking, but it’s just not for me and I’ve always been in the front of the house.”

The restaurateur loves to joke about the path he took in the world of wine. “I had a very thick accent so there were so many things I couldn't be, so I figured I might as well utilize my accent to pronounce stuff other people couldn't. They had no idea how it was supposed to sound so I could make the wines sound even more exciting,” he says, “so I was like, ‘I’ll become a sommelier!”

L'Avenue Bistro
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