Table 17, TorontoTable 17 is one of the many bistros that have sprung up in Leslieville, the latest hot neighbourhood in Toronto. Food is refined (European-style) but the atmosphere is relaxed. I wouldn’t consider it a “special occasion” spot, but with a seasonal menu and focus on local ingredients, I’d likely end up here regularly if I lived in the area.

Our appetizer aroused many bad puns. The hot balls ($11.50) are the restaurant’s variation on arancini, and an excellent starter to share.

The first risotto ball was stuffed with mushroom and fontina, and served with a tomato sauce. The deep-fried ball of goat cheese, with Ontario wildflower honey dip, and the ball of spiced lamb with mint sauce were fantastic.

Steak frites ($21), an 8-oz. top sirloin and nice fries, was a good belly-filler. The homemade “shoestring” spaghetti ($17) that Natalie devoured was great, with a simple gorgonzola and hazelnut sauce.

However, my beef short ribs fell short of the mark. The meat wasn’t tender enough and clung stubbornly to the bone. It would have been more forgiving had there been more gravy/sauce. But without it, both the beef as well as the parsnip purée and root winter vegs were parched.

Kitchen bounced back with a plate-clearing lemon cheesecake ($8), and tiramisu, ($8) curiously made with beer but it works.

A three-course table d’hôte for $32 is offered on Sundays and Mondays, along with no corkage.

Table 17, 782 Queen St. East, (416) 519-1851. Open for dinner from 5:30 p.m., brunch on weekends 10:30 a.m.-2:30 p.m.

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