Chantecler has been one of my favourite restaurants in Toronto for quite some time and probably my best kept secret! This tiny place in Parkdale, which has been open since 2012, has such a great vibe and amazing food that I would share it with people all the time. In fact, I would always be amazed by people living here who told me they had never heard of it before!
So, when my friends and I who were long overdue for a dinner couldn’t get a table for 5 at a restaurant that was on our list, I made an executive decision to book us in at Chantecler. I didn’t even bother to go on the website because I already knew what I wanted to order (the calamari in tamarind sauce, lettuce meal, and popcorn shrimp being my favourites). But, when we got there and discovered the restaurant had re-branded, I was actually shocked (and the pressure was on even more now, since I had been raving about this place to my friends, and obviously couldn’t be so sure about the new menu).
Chantecler now has a new chef and offers French food, rather than the Asian-inspired dishes previously served here. It thankfully retains many of the things I loved about it, including the décor and charm. Like, how cute is the kitchen backsplash?! It was also pretty neat that I found an Anser: Mysterious Date face in one of the bathroom stalls (you should look for it, when you visit). However, I didn’t exactly appreciate the snarky comment from our waitress for not knowing there was a Globe and Mail article on their re-branding (my bad!), when I asked whether blogTO or Toronto Life had done a feature (according to her, they’re doing so well already that they didn’t need the extra coverage).
The much expanded menu has all the old school French classics, like steak tartare, escargot, and frog legs. We decided to sample many things and weren’t afraid to be adventurous with our meal.
First up was the kale salad ($9), served with cauliflower, slivers of apple and almond, in a honey mustard dressing. It was delicious and almost too pretty to eat.
We dove right into the frog legs ($13) and steak tartare ($11) next.
The romesco sauce served with the frog legs (which otherwise tasted like chicken) was an interesting twist. It was also nice of the restaurant to include two additional frog legs at no charge, so each of us could have 2. I absolutely loved that the steak meat was already mixed with what tasted like horseradish and Dijon mustard, which gave an even creamier texture to the tartare.
And don’t even get me started on the egg yolk! My mouth is watering just thinking about it!
Escargots ($12) were served with mushrooms, tomatoes, micro-greens and puff pastry in the centre. My only criticism about this dish was that the escargots weren’t individually nestled in the puff pastry, which I thought would have been better than one piece of pastry in the centre.
Next came the steak ($26), slow roast pork and sausage ($21), with sides of French fries ($6) and green beans ($6), potato chips that came with the steak, and a small relish that accompanied the pork.
All of the meats were super tasty and pre-cut, which made them easy for sharing. There was a huge dollop of Hollandaise on the green beans, which we had absolutely no complaints about (let’s be honest, there was nothing healthy about this meal, other than maybe the kale!). The bone marrow served with the steak was a rich and decadent addition to the plate!
The highlight of the meal for my friends (since I don’t eat dessert) was the baked Alaska ($12). I cannot comment on the taste, but I will give this dish top marks for presentation. We all got a kick out of the Grand Marnier being lit table-side and poured over the meringue. Here’s a little video clip of the presentation:
All 3 of my friends, my fiancé, and I totally enjoyed our meal at Chantecler version 2.0! Extra points to the owner, Jacob, who gave us free shots of something yummy and alcoholic at the end, which I can’t remember the name of! While I will miss the lettuce meal and calamari, I’m looking forward to having a new go-to for French food in the city!
You should definitely pay this place a visit to give the new menu a try! And if you aren’t already, don’t forget to follow me on Instagram!