Chantecler has made quite the impression on the Parkdale restaurant scene. Located between Dufferin and Brock on Queen, it may not be as buzz-worthy as Grand Electric but prior to my arrival I had already heard numerous friends rave about the consomme and gnocchi. Named after the only Canadian heritage breed of chicken, Chantecler serves updated classic fare that incorporates Asian culinary influences.
With no reservations and a cozy dining room, we went early, but not early enough, as there still was a twenty minute wait, which has become a trend in this area (see the previously mentioned Grand Electric). The harvest wood tables and intricate tile work has a warm inviting feel, and the kitchen is wrapped along the perimeter of the dining room, which allows full view of the main event.
When a friend remarked that Chantecler's style was best described as Asian Fusion, I hesitated. It's a genre that's been around for quite awhile and is often poorly executed. My instincts were, however, proven wrong when I tried the Gnocchi ($13). Pillows of pureed potato cover an amazing cod and (béchamel?) sauce with a dusting of nori. These are harmonious flavours, but in a different tune that I've never tasted before. The nori, however subtle, adds an extra umami note, which sends the dish over the top.
Beef cheeks (lead photo) are enjoying a resurgence as of late, making appearances on several menus around town. Chantecler has followed suit with its take on meat and potatoes. A mash of parsley root, with bone marrow, is pooled below beet braised beef cheeks ($19). The parsley mash had a delicate, even a hint of green, taste with a firm consistency. The beets lent little by way of flavour, but dyed the beef a vibrant red. This is a good option for guests who want to steer clear of the surf and stick with the turf.
Consomme is time consuming. It involves several stages in which any number of errors could render the dish terrible. It's often overlooked for that reason. Cookbooks often remark that a consomme should have a 'beaten clear' appearance to the broth. A play off pho, the consomme ($14) here is more satisfying than expected, with a broken yolk, smoked chicken and cilantro garnish. It certainly lives up to the hype I had heard about it.
The pacific cod ($19) is paired nicely with the king oyster mushrooms. The Bonito Butter sauce adds a mellow fumé flavour that unifies the dish. Fork tender yet flakey, the fish was cooked perfectly.
Overall, the menu can be a bit pricey, especially the wine list, but I'm not complaining. The dishes were all top notch and warranted their prices in terms of quality and refinement. More importantly, Chantecler offers something new — new flavours! It's always a treat to be challenged with something that's truly different. I look forward to getting a fork (or spoon) on what Chantecler has cooking up next.