Cluny Bistro & Boulangerie, in Toronto’s Distillery District, keeps on getting better and better, as the kitchen (under chef de cuisine Travis Cropley) grows ever more assured and focused, and the food ever more inventive.
Exhibit A: Mushroom soup garnished with slivered chestnuts and a chunk of house-made maple fudge. As the fudge melts into the steaming-hot soup, it lends intoxicating sweet-maple notes that play brilliantly against the mushroom puree’s intense earthiness.
Exhibit B: Two inventive salads, one of roasted Brussels sprouts, quinoa, wheat berries and buffalo milk ricotta, the whole animated by sweet quince paste; and another creation marrying warm squash, lentils, lemon pickle and caramelized yogurt.
Exhibit C: Pot pie, built on sturdy crust and loaded with moist duck confit, coins of smoky house-made andouille sausage, diced root veg and white beans. Poking up from the middle of the crust is a thick roasted bone yielding a treasure trove of rich marrow. Setting off each bite of pie is a sweetish ketchup made from chunky tomatoes. This is a perfect winter dish.
The rest of the meal is no less impressive. Escargot sautéed with button mushrooms and bone marrow butter perch on crostini, the snails’ deeply savoury cooking juices soaking the toasted bread.
Daurade (French for ‘sea bream’) is exquisitely moist and delicate, king oyster mushrooms, honey roasted sunchokes and mustard sunchoke pickle lending admirable support.
Filet mignon arrives perfectly medium rare, fork tender and carrying a deep mineral tang.
To end, there’s dense and intense bittersweet chocolate soufflé, garnished with a chocolate-orange madeleine.
The beautiful space recalls an airy Paris brasserie, but boasting a casual, approachable vibe.
Outfitting the bright, high-ceilinged room is elaborately patterned floor tile, bentwood chairs, attractive globe lights, a snazzy raw bar, 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 25 years and, during that time, has critiqued more than 1,300 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.