I last visited Chantecler (@ChanteclerTO) over a year ago when they used to serve more refined plates. Since then, they’ve revamped their menu and now serve smaller tapas-style dishes which are perfect for sharing.
If a little more refinement is your thing, you can try to snag a reservation for their tasting menu which is only served on Fridays and Saturdays (two seatings each night with only one table per seating). The tasting menus are reasonably priced at around $40-$60 depending on the ingredients used that particular evening so I don’t think it’s any surprise they usually book out two months in advance.
Chantecler has an a la carte menu which is served 7 days a week. They’re open for dinner every night and serve Sunday lunch from 11:30am to 3:30pm. The restaurant occupies a tight space in Parkdale so be prepared to get cozy with your neighbors.
There were four of us dining at Chantecler this evening and since their menu is relatively short and comprise of small sharing plates, we ordered the entire menu except for the raw oysters.
We started off with the Calamari – with caramelized peanuts & tamarind sauce ($11). It smelled amazing when it arrived at our table and it tasted just as great. The pieces of squid were lightly fried, not too chewy and had a slight sweetness to it from the tamarind sauce.
Up next was the light and refreshing Veg Noodle Salad – potato noodles, smoked shiitakes & sesame ($6). While it wasn’t a bad dish, none of us found it particularly memorable. It might be nice if you’re looking for a light side to supplement your meal with but it wasn’t anything special.
Something I did find special was the Beef Tartare – with peanuts, wasabi, fish sauce & shrimp sauce ($12). The beef was finely chopped and topped with a raw egg. I loved all the flavours in the tartare and the generous amount of wasabi in it gave it a nice kick.
They substituted the usual crostini for shrimp chips which I thought worked wonderfully. This turned out to be one of my favourite dishes of the evening. A must-order…but only if you like wasabi.
Following the tartare was the Fancy Wings – with fried garlic & scallions ($10). The wings were super crispy and topped with a huge pile of garlic and scallions. I enjoyed the sauce but unfortunately found the meat a touch dry, even with the generous coating of sauce.
We also ordered the Albacore Tuna Crudo – with yuzu, ginger & green apple ($15). It was a tasty dish consisting of thinly sliced tuna with light citrusy notes from the yuzu.
The menu has two different wraps on the menu so we ordered them both. The first one I tried was the Fish Wrap – haddock & Japanese tartar sauce ($4.50 each). The fish was lightly battered with a moist interior. It was an enjoyable wrap with a nice big dollop of tartar sauce.
Between the two wraps, we all preferred the Pork Special Wrap – dried oyster, roast seaweed & puffed wild rice ($4 each). It might not look quite as appetizing but it really had a great flavour punch. I particularly liked that the wraps were made with lettuce which made them taste lighter and fresher.
You can’t come to Chantecler without ordering the Spicy Popcorn Shrimp – with popcorn & Morita peppers ($11). When you see an item like this on a menu, you expect fried bite-sized pieces of shrimp but Chantecler’s version consists of shrimp battered with popcorn. One order came with four huge pieces of shrimp and they tasted So. Damn. Good.
Don’t you dare come here without trying these. If it’s the spice you’re afraid of, they really aren’t that spicy, so you have no excuse!
Another thing that Chantecler is known for is their Lettuce Meal – braised beef cheek & slow smoked pork shoulder served with lettuce, steamed rice, house pickles & sauces ($21) which is meant to feed two people.
Basically, you take a piece of lettuce and fill it up with meat and the accompaniments to build your own tasty wrap. Between the two cuts of meat, I preferred the braised beef cheek which was much more tender than its pork shoulder counterpart.
I came in with high expectations for the popular lettuce meal and unfortunately, it didn’t quite live up to my expectations. Don’t get me wrong, there wasn’t anything bad about it (and it really is fantastic value) but it just didn’t wow me.
We barely managed to finish the lettuce meal as this was more than enough food for four people. Needless to say, we skipped dessert.
Sure, there were dishes that were more memorable than others, but overall we really enjoyed our meal at Chantecler. Tasty sharing plates, great cocktails and a fun atmosphere!
At a glance:
• A la carte menu 7 days a week for dinner; Sunday lunch from 11:30am to 3:30pm
• Tasting menu on Fridays and Saturdays (two seatings and only one table per seating); books up 2 months in advance
• Very small space located in Parkdale
• Takes reservations; cash and debit only
• A la carte menu features small sharing plates
• Favourite dishes: spicy popcorn shrimp and beef tartare
Ratings (out of 5):
• Food: 3.5 stars
• Service: 3 stars
• Atmosphere: 4 stars