On a recent visit to Cluny Bistro, the charming and bustling French restaurant in Toronto’s Distillery District, I encounter a slew of new and interesting dishes.
For example, there was a salad of roasted yellow and purple carrots on a bed of baby kale — the softest, sweetest kale I’ve ever eaten — sparked by a vinaigrette mellowed by wine and accessorized with smoked yogurt.
The Cluny Caesar salad was a sight to behold: the bowl covered by a circular cheese crisp, itself topped by a poached egg draped with an anchovy. Crack through the cheese crisp and dig into a bed of vinaigrette-moistened baby romaine.
Next up, servers descend on our table and present, with much flourish, a soup. It’s a vegan split pea, which they pour into each bowl that’s first been filled with an almond milk crème fraiche. The soup is velvety, the crème fraiche frothy and sweet, and the accompanying peas and diced carrots in perfect harmony with the whole.
A fat slab of meltingly tender, miso-glazed black cod sits in a pool of intensely flavoured scallop consommé.
And then comes the daily fish special, Ora King salmon. Sourced from New Zealand, this breed of fish is known as “the wagyu beef of salmon.” What arrives is an enormous slab of fish, enough for at least three people. It’s served with tender braised leeks, roasted potatoes and green beans almondine.
At dessert, do not miss the intense rich and silky chocolate pot de crème, whimsically sided with bit of salted caramel and flourless chocolate cake.
Cluny channels an airy Paris brasserie, but with a casual ambience perfectly in tune with its location in the tourist-magnet Distillery District.
Outfitting the bright, high-ceilinged room are elaborately patterned floor tile, bentwood chairs, attractive globe lights, marble-topped bread station and curio cabinets displaying antiques.
Cluny’s event room seats 80 people and is divisible into two spaces seating 20 and 40.
— Don Douloff has been a restaurant critic for over 30 years and, during that time, has critiqued more than 1,500 eateries. In 1988, he studied the fundamentals of French cuisine at Ecole de Cuisine La Varenne in Paris, France. During his time in France, he furthered his gastronomic education by visiting the country’s bistros, brasseries and Michelin-starred temples of haute cuisine. He relishes exploring the edible universe in his native Toronto and on his travels throughout Canada and abroad.