[Winterlicious/French] Cluny Bistro and Boulangerie

Restaurant: Cluny Bistro & Boulangerie
Location: 35 Tank House Lane, Toronto, ON M5A 3C4
Price Range: $$$
Note: This review is only for Winterlicious 2015 Dinner, it does not reflect the normal service. In addition, part of this review is written by my friend who accompanied me to the dinner.

 

Open bread bar
Open bread bar

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My second Winterlicious dinner was at Cluny and their 3 course prix fixe dinner was priced at $35. This dinner was quite a spontaneous one as I didn’t plan to come here at all, but my boss recommended it, and I was not disappointed at all. Note to self: when a Parisian recommend you to an authentic French restaurant, you listen and trust their taste ;).

The interior of this restaurant is beautiful. For a French restaurant, it had a modern decor and a partially opened kitchen, a seafood bar (I believe?) and an open bread bar. The wine rack was quite impressive.

Open seafood bar
Open seafood bar

They also had a separate bakery, but unfortunately I was too full and couldn’t have any of their pastry offerings, they looked delicious though! I think Cluny would be a perfect spot for a date when summer comes :).

Bakery
Bakery
Bakery
Some of their bakery offerings

Below are my friend’s courses:

Pressed Chicken Terrine “Nicoise Style” - pickled beans, tomato jam and black olives
Pressed Chicken Terrine “Nicoise Style” – pickled beans, tomato jam and black olives

To be honest we never had a “Terrine” before and I must say, it is quite delicious! This was a cold appetizer and surprisingly, the chicken was still soft and juicy. While the chicken terrine itself did not have much flavor, the tomato jam gave the terrine a hint of sweetness, while the olives and picked beans provided a touch of sourness and brightened up the dish. The yellow and smooth hollandaise sauce rounded out the contrasting flavors and made the dish cohesive. This was a well composed appetizer and a great way to start the meal!

Beer Braised Beef Cheeks - celeriac and barley stew, roasted sprouts, fresh horseradish
Beer Braised Beef Cheeks – celeriac and barley stew, roasted sprouts, fresh horseradish

This was my first time trying out beef cheek (a lot of firsts for this meal!) as it is not a common ingredient for an everyday meal. The beef cheek was cooked perfectly, it was very tender and succulent, the seasoning was spot on as well. The roasted brussel sprouts were a nice addition to the dish, and the horseradish added a nice, little touch of freshness to this “meat-heavy” dish. The barley gave the dish a hearty-comfort-food feel, a stew appropriate for the winter months in Toronto :).

Roasted Hazelnut Profiterole - chocolat chaud and chantilly
Roasted Hazelnut Profiterole – chocolat chaud and chantilly

Hazelnut and chocolate is always the perfect match. The profiterole itself was airy and light, delicious not overly sweet. The dark chocolate ganache was divine and the slight bitter taste helps to balance the sweetness of the profiteroles, a very well balanced dish. The hazelnut chantilly and bits of cookies (?) added some texture to the sauce, but it was not really needed in my opinion. If you enjoy dark chocolate, I highly recommend this dish!

And these were my courses:

Tomato and Saffron Braised Calamari - basque style stewed peppers and fennel
Tomato and Saffron Braised Calamari – basque style stewed peppers and fennel

Normally I enjoy calamari grilled or deep fried, but I never tried it braised before and it did not disappoint! By braising, it allowed the calamari to soak up the broth, leaving the calamari very tender and juicy.  I don’t think the fennel was needed as it didn’t add any flavor to the dish, and I wish the broth had a bit more salt or spice, it was a bit under-seasoned for me. Nonetheless, the broth was perfect for dipping pieces of soft bread ;).

BBQ Steelhead Trout - flageolet beans, roasted heirloom carrots, almond sauce
BBQ Steelhead Trout – flageolet beans, roasted heirloom carrots, almond sauce

When the trout arrived, I thought it was going to be over-cooked as the skin seemed to be too charred. Surprisingly the fish was flaky and moist, no “burnt food” smell and the seasoning was spot on. The almond sauce seemed non-existent. The beans had no flavor, but the roasted carrot added a nice touch to the dish with their natural sweetness coming through. The salad also added some nice texture and was quite refreshing :).

Lavender Blackcurrant Macaroon - wild strawberry coulis and torched vanilla meringue
Lavender Blackcurrant Macaron – wild strawberry coulis and torched vanilla meringue

To be honest I was quiet skeptical with this dish, as I had a bad experience with Lavender macaron previously. To my surprise the Lavender did not taste like Bounty sheets at all, it was very mild and the blackcurrant tasted like a concentrated blackberry flavor to me, not too sweet at all! I believe the ice cream was raspberry as it was a bit sour along with the coulis, but the sweetness from the meringue helped to cut down the sourness. There were a lot of flavors going on with this dessert and everything blended together nicely, I really enjoyed it!

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Overall, I enjoyed my dinner at Cluny. While my main course wasn’t the best, my friend really enjoyed her dishes and I did too! Our server was very friendly and relaxed, she did not rush us to finish our dinner, unlike some restaurants. Each dish arrived quickly and plates were cleared off promptly. With the lovely location and patio, I can’t wait for the weather to warm up and return for their brunch :).

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