Having such heard such great things about Chantecler (@ChanteclerTO) since it opened recently, I was eager to give it a try. The restaurant is located in Parkdale, just a few storefronts away from Grand Electric, adding yet another restaurant to the area.
The space is incredibly small and there are no tables for two. They only have four tops and one larger table up front. I came by with Amy (Amy’s Food Adventures) and we were seated at the bar with a nice view into the open kitchen which has a retro feel to it.
Right from the get-go, the service was great. The servers were very attentive – coming by often to ensure everything was okay and refilling our glasses frequently.
The servers informed me and Amy that the dishes are meant for sharing (the best kind of dishes, in my opinion!) so we split a number of dishes. The first dish I tried was the Potato Gnocchi – with cod roe, chive and seaweed ($13). The gnocchi was covered in a light, white potato foam and topped with powdered seaweed. The gnocchi just melted in melted in my mouth and had such a delicious flavour to it. I just wish there was something that gave it a bit more texture.
Next up was the Cured and Torched Mackerel – with rye, remoulade & preserved lemon ($12). It came with two pieces of mackerel, thin crisp rye slices and an apple and celeriac slaw. While I enjoyed the slaw, I wasn’t a huge fan of the mackerel since it had a very fishy taste to it. It was my least favourite dish of the evening.
We also ordered the Soft Polenta – with shiitake, five spice & shallot ragu ($12). It was an Italian dish wish an Asian twist. The polenta was cooked perfectly and the mushroom ragu was so tasty I wanted to lick the plate clean.
Arriving with the polenta was the Pork Neck – with kusshi oyster, lettuce and XO sauce ($21). Pork neck meat has a unique texture in that it’s a little chewy with some bite to it. I’m a huge fan of pork neck and Chantecler prepared it wonderfully. The dish came with 2 lightly cooked kusshi oysters and braised lettuce. The addition of the XO sauce (made of dried shrimp and scallop) gave the dish a nice little kick. While I found the dish a touch oily, it was still my favourite dish of the evening.
After sharing the four dishes between the two of us, we were still hungry and added another dish, the Smoked Duck Breast – with marinated mushrooms and hazelnuts ($12). I loved the marinated mushrooms it came with, which were of the king oyster variety. They just have a really nice meatiness to them.
It surprised me that the combination of the salty smoked duck, bitterness from the arugula and the hazelnut worked quite well. I rarely eat hazelnut but when I do, I always feel like I’m eating Ferrero Rocher…which isn’t a bad thing!
Chantecler had two desserts this evening and we decided on the Panna Cotta – with bitter almond, tapioca & osmanthus syrup ($8) to end off the meal. I’m not usually a huge fan of panna cotta but the one at Chantecler was amazing. It was smooth, cool, refreshing and had a really great almond flavour. It didn’t look like much in terms of presentation but it sure made up for it in taste. It was a perfect way to finish off the meal.
While I thought it was a great dinner, I have to say I expected a little more since I had heard such high praises about Chantecler. Nevertheless, it was a very solid dinner with some memorable dishes!
At a glance:
• Located in Parkdale
• Sharing dishes with Asian influences
• Cash and debit only
• No tables for 2; only four tops and bar seating
Ratings (out of 5):
• Food: 4 stars
• Service: 4.5 stars
• Atmosphere: 3 stars