I had been to Chambar several years ago and remembered it being quite good, so I thought it would be a nice place for a dinner with the family. Upon entering the restaurant, the first thing I noticed was how loud and busy it was on a Tuesday evening. Luckily we were taken into a separate room at the back of the restaurant which was much quieter. Like many of the restaurants in Gastown, the interior was dimly lit, had high ceilings and exposed brick walls.I was impressed by Chambar’s extensive Belgian beer selection. Their beer menu was categorized by type (pale ales, witbier, trappiste, lambics & sour ales, etc). The problem with so much selection is that I always take forever to decide what I want. Finally, I settled on the Westmalle Tripel ($11 for a 330ml bottle). The only other person who joined me for a drink at our table was my mom, who went with the Satan Gold ($10.50 for a 330ml bottle).
For my starter, I went with the Foie de canard “villa lorraine” – Spiced foie gras terrine, port reduction, kriek granita & truffled brioche french toast ($17). The terrine was smooth, buttery and had a great flavour to it. Given how large the terrine was, I didn’t have enough brioche to accompany the terrine. The size of this dish really surprised me since foie is such a rich dish… can’t eat too much of it in one sitting.My sister also ordered the foie de canard and the two of us could’ve easily shared just one serving, and still had leftovers! I’d recommend sharing this if you decide to order this.
Mike went with the Carpaccio d’omble de l’artique – Sumac & fennel cured arctic char, jalapeno vinaigrette, pepperdew, capers, crème fraiche, sunchoke chip ($16). Again, I was surprised by how large this dish was. This would be a perfect dish for sharing since it comes with many small slices of the arctic char. Anyways, enough about size (that’s not everything, right?). The taste of the fish was delicious! This certainly wouldn’t have been a dish I would have ordered off the menu, but I’m so glad Mike did. The fish was perfectly cured, and the garnishes went with it perfectly. The whole table really enjoyed this. I’d say this was probably my favourite starter.My mom loves scallops, so she started with Les Coquilles St. Jacques – Seared scallops, smoked kurobuta pork cheek, pickled green beans & horseradish vinaigrette ($16). The scallops were perfectly seared and were tender to the bite. However, they were just okay for me, but I’m not a huge fan of scallops. My parents and Mike seemed to really enjoy them though.
My dad started with the Soupe de Crab – a crab emulsion with a crab roll ($16). It came with a small bowl of cold crab soup and a tiny crab roll made with rice paper. Given the size of the other appetizers, this one dwarfed in comparison. Since the portion wasn’t very big, I didn’t give it a try. However, my dad said he enjoyed it, so I’ll take his word for it.For my main, I went with the Tajine d’aziz à l’agneau – Braised lamb shank with honey, figs, cinnamon & cilantro, served with cous cous and zalouk ($29). This was a Moroccan-inspired dish, which was cooked in a tajine, a heavy clay pot. They serve you the dish with the top of the clay pot still on and when the servers took off the top, the aroma of the lamb was absolutely mouth-watering! The lamb was fall-off-the-bone tender and tasted delicious with the sauce, which was sweet from the honey and figs. The dish was also served with a side of cous cous and eggplant – both of which I wasn’t a huge fan of. Even the flavourful sauce from the lamb couldn’t really save it. Mike ordered the Bouillabaisse à ma facon – Saffron & espelette bouillabaisse, white spring salmon, prawns, squid, scallop, clams, dungeness crab & ricotta ravioli, rouille ($29). The server first placed the dish with seafood in front of Mike and proceeded to pour the soup over seafood. I tried some of the ravioli which was delicious and all the seafood tasted very fresh. The soup had a very strong tomato taste to it, and although it was good, I didn’t think it was anything special.
My sister ordered the Moules Frites (Coquotte style) – Mussels cooked in a white wine cream, smoked bacon lardons, spring onions ($22). Similar to the size of the appetizers, the portion of the mussels was quite generous, so the rest of the table had a fair share of the mussels. They tasted fresh and were perfectly cooked. The sauce was also quite nice, but you can’t really go wrong with a white wine cream sauce….especially when it’s infused with a bacon flavour.I also enjoyed the frites that the dish came with, even though they’re not the thin kind I generally prefer. They were crispy and tasted great with the house-made mayo.
My mom ordered the Canard et chèvre - Roasted duck breast, goat cheese & tarragon gnocchi, sautéed scallions, hazelnut gastrique ($30). When duck breast is done poorly, it can be extremely tough and dry, but this certainly wasn’t the case at Chambar. The duck was still a bit pink in the middle, was moist and had a great flavour to it. Although the gnocchi were a nice accompaniment to the duck, I didn’t think the gnocchi was anything to write home about.Although we were all quite full, we decided to take a peek at the dessert menu anyways. The La Dégustation de Desserts – Chef’s selection tasting platter ($20) caught our eye, so we decided to share this.
From left to right, it came with a Belgium chocolate mousse, a strawberry tart with a lemon buttermilk sorbet, a pistachio pot de crème, a scoop of chocolate and passionfruit ice cream and a selection of truffles. My favourite was definitely the chocolate mousse. It was so smooth and wasn’t overly sweet. The ice cream also surprised me as I thought the passionfruit and chocolate was a weird combination, but it went perfectly together. It was delicious! As for the pistachio pot de crème, I’m not a huge fan of pistachios, so I only had a small bite of this. It didn’t change my mind about pistachios, but Mike loved this.Overall, I was very pleased with the food and the dessert tasting platter was the perfect way to end the meal. Unfortunately, I didn’t find our server to be quite as good as the food as he wasn’t the most attentive server. However, this wouldn’t prevent me from coming back.
Ratings (out of 5):