In our ongoing series The Reveal, we go behind closed doors and introduce you to the people and food of the city’s newest restaurants and undiscovered places.
This week, we enter Cluny Bistro & Boulangerie.
The Gist: The description “A French restaurant and boulangerie” just doesn’t do the place justice. Between the food and the décor, it is like no other place in the city. Read on for what sets it apart. Far, far apart.
Grub: French classics get modern twists. What might initially come across as fusion is actually the true influences of Southern France – North African, Algerian, etc. You won’t find many straight-ahead traditional dishes such as Duck Confit, Nicoise Salad with Tuna or Beef Bourgignon – no living in the past here. Instead, dive into the exhilarating menu including: Crisp Sesame Baked Asparagus "Frites" with spicy yogurt dipping sauce; Lime & Chili Marinated Black King Fish ($13); Open Faced Triple Salmon Ravioli ($ 28), featuring smoked, poached & roe with sorrel and saffron pasta.
However, you can still tuck into Steak Frites ($19-$39), thank goodness.
With the exception of a few old-school dishes, the menu is inventive and forward-thinking. Julia Child would be darned proud.
Libations: The Champagne Program is the best deal in the city - Victoire Champagne for $15/5oz glass or $75/btl;
Piper Heidsieck for $19/5oz glass or $95/btl. And cocktails include:
Brise d’ete 1.5oz Skyy Vodka, Chambord, Liqueur de Grenade, Lemon Sorbet, Citrus $12
Guillotine 2oz Maker’s Mark Bourbon, Liqueur de Noisette, Liqueur de Gingembre, Egg White, Citrus $14
The du Roi 1.5oz Remy Martin VSOP Cognac, Chilled Green Tea, Muddled Mint and Ginger $14
Alos available, Lucid Absinthe served “Fountain Style.” Select from house made flavoured sugars: Angostura Bitters, Lemon & Black Walnut, Cranberry & Peach, Aztec Chocolate & Sriracha.
‘Hood: The Distillery District
Deets: Currently, the dining room seats 146 including the bar, with 240 on the patio to come soon. With over 500 seats, that beats out Distillery neighbours El Catrin (340), Pure Sprits (over 300) and Archeo (100).
A private dining room (due to open Fall 2014) can accommodate up to 80.
A coffee and bakeshop boulangerie is coming in two weeks, and soon, Cluny will be open seven days a week for breakfast lunch and dinner! Get ready - a brunch menu is already in process.
Fixtures & Fittings: The space is one of the most original in the entire city.
Each section of seating has a unique design – so you can enjoy a completely different view and experience each time you dine. Try the raw bar and seafood counter, and then move next to the bread station (all breads and food are made in house).
Rich textures are everywhere – deep marble counters, brightly painted floor tiles, leather straps on the chairs. Even the dishware is custom, with elegant drawings and logo embossed across the plates.
Antiques were hand selected for the cabinets and paintings were hand done on glass at the raw bar and on the walls in the bathroom.
When you hear a thunk as you enter, don’t be alarmed - it’s just your jaw hitting the floor.
Off the Menu: French onion soup ($9-$16) like you’ve never seen before, boasts over 200 grams/3 oz. of cheese, and is served in a cast iron pan so that you can scrape those tasty crispy bits off the bottom. You also choose your cheese from a wide selection. Wellington County Beef Tartar ($13) features hanger steak for its richer, darker flavour, and is blended tableside. Ginger-Chili Fried Frog's Legs ($15) gives a new twist on a classic. Herbed Parisian Gnocchi ($13) feature tender, garlicky escargot. For dessert, Passion Fruit Soufflé ($14) comes with a pistachio financier, and vanilla crème anglaise, poured by your server.
How Cool is This?! The Cluny Double Bacon Cheese Burger ($24) features 9 ounces of meat. You can also add foie gras and/or truffle to any dish, including having a whole truffle sliced at the table.
At the Stove: Executive Chef Paul Benallick (Auberge du Pommier, Stock, Jump), who believes Julia Child is the #1 cook in the world. We tend to agree. Also, Chef de Cuisine Travis Cropley, Pastry Chef Chris Kwok, and Boulanger Lucas Craig.
FOH: General Manager Kevin Tobin, Bar Manager Stuart Kempston, and Service Manager/Sommelier Laurel Finlay.
Head Honchos: Rik Ocvirk, Director of Operations, Corporate Chef Andre Walker, Proprietors Mathew Rosenblatt and John Berman.
Mon. - Thurs: 5pm - 10pm
Friday : 5pm - 11pm
Sat. & Sun: 3pm - 11pm
Map It: 35 Tank House Lane (in The Historic Distillery District, located at 55 Mill Street)
Phone It In: (416) 203-2632
Check out our Facebook page for more photos.