Ok, the reservation was bad timing. I have been meaning to check out Chantecler for a while now, but I seem to have called just after they got a bunch of reviews. A bunch of really good reviews, like this one http://www.theglobeandmail.com/life/food-and-wine/restaurant-reviews/chantecler-2-concepts-1-outstanding-tasting-menu/article10816124/so when I called to make a reservation for their famed tasting menu, I was told that they are booking into June 😦
But, and I say this is great service, they immediately told me that they could probably fit me in for their regular menu. For, eh, tomorrow, Saturday night? I asked? And yes…they made it happen! (Ok, maybe the time was a tad unusual, but hey, not exactly complaining..). When we arrived, we immediately spotted the place we wanted to sit. The prime seat “reserved for tasting menu guests”. Of course. But – service again- they agreed to swap seating and bingo, we had our seat at the bar in view of all the action. And I honestly did not even push very hard.
So all a very promising start.
So over to the first indication that this was going to be a fun evening: the drink menu:
Jacob, one of the owners was behind the bar and gracefully helped us with our choice. Completely not necessary, since we were going to work our way through the list anyways ( a different ‘tasting menu’ of sorts). What can I say, these were some of T.O.s best drinks. And Jacob clearly enjoys mixing,putting on a good shaker-show every single time. And again. And again. And….
But food. They had three specials, and that’s what we had. Panko crusted baked oysters, cucumber salad with duck gizzard, and duck two ways.
I made a comment about the oysters probably being yesterday’s non-sold babies, but no, in sight they chucked in prepared them. So incredibly good. I seem to have a lot of oysters in my life these days, which is kinda funny given Toronto is…how many km from the sea again?
Once the oysters were devoured, we switched to the cucumber salad. We had both been a tad apprehensive about the ‘duck gizzards’, but they were yummy, dark red firm bits of flesh with almost no offal taste. I actually went digging for them in the salad, as they were quite tasty. The salad was great, with some sesame oil and coriander and other mystery ingredients.
But now over to the pièce de résistance: the duck. Delish! Duck breast with a thick layer of fat and sweet crispy skin, lightly smoked.. And duck leg confit that was out of this world. Served with three mystery sauces, one sriracha based, once hoisin-ish and one more tangy. Add pickled cauliflower, carrots and lettuce leaves, and off we were playing with our food, assembling our wraps. (Funny enough we just did the same last week-end at Korean Village on Bloor, more traditional but also extremely tasty.)
Conclusion: excellent drinks, outstanding food, fun atmosphere, gracious service…which included banter about our travelling all the way from Ronces (for some reason Jacob had asked us earlier whether we were from Montréal?! Because our German sounded so French? Or because of our stylishness?! I wonder)…and Chantecler is a clear winner. We’ll be back!