I have been to Chanterelle probably 5 times now. The restaurant is so beautiful. A classic downtown institution. It was great to be back last night.
There is only one room. The lights make the room glow. The large flowers in the front of the room set a modern tone. The service is fantastic. I love when they ask if they could pour more wine instead of just pouring more into your glass everytime you put it down. How polite and thoughtful considering your bottle is costing you an arm and a leg, it probably is the right thing to do. Note, the wine list is as heavy as a wedding album.
We first sat down and we were served tastings from the chef. This is a theme in all top restaurants. Last night we had a white tuna tartare served on a small shrimp toast cracker. It was delicious. The tuna was not too heavy and cracker was just crisp. The other bonus was a wrapped roll of prosciutto, bread and dried cherries thinly sliced so when it was lying on the plate you could see all the ingredients. Another delicious tid bit.
3 of the four of us started with the grilled seafood sausage which is served over a buttery vegetable cream sauce. I forgot how classic french the restaurant really is. The seafood sausage is the signature dish. It has been on the menu since Chanterelle opened. It is absolutely delicious. Light and airy, not too dense as sausage can be. There were chunks of seafood with subtle vegetable flavorings in the casing. My husband had the shellfish fricasse. Mussels, clams, oysters and conch steamed open in a light fish broth. He loved it. I did not find it that interesting. Very flavorful and beautifully presented but I am not a big fan of fish broth based stews which is what this was.
Dinner rolled in next. 2 of us had the crispy softshell crabs served with a chinese vegetable and ginger. Not very heavy with sauces but lighter. The combination of chinese flavorings with the softshell was really good. I had the tasmanian seabass which is actually like an artic char. The fish was served skin side up which was crispy over a succotash of beans consisting of fava, cranberry and peas. Absolutely delicious. There was a heavy cream sauce which everything was layed on. The sauce was a bit too rich for me but tasted good. My friend had the black seabass with asparagus and garlic mashed potatoes.
Dessert is part of the price so why not. We had the apricot tart with sour cream ice cream, a chocolate gooey cake with chocolate ice cream and a vanilla cream cake with cherry ice cream. Of course, like the chef’s treats at the beginning they also serve small desserts with your desserts as an added bonus. There was a small pistachio covered lemon custard filled ball, small chocolate cookies and chocolate shaved on small balls filled with rich chocolate cream. The one that I really liked was a rich carmel peanut piece layered on top of chocolate.
We had such a great time. I really enjoyed my meal but I was not “omigod” about the meal. The cost of all 4 of us having dinner there with 2 bottles of wine (which by the way were not that expensive compared to the rest of the wines available) was over $600. I am not sure the pure food experience was worth that.
Chanterelle is a place where you go for special occasions which last night was. We were all celebrating the beginning of our summer together. All of our kids are in camp. I will absolutely return to Chanterelle but there are a variety of places in the city that have food better than Chanterelle but do not have the unique and inviting atmosphere that is provided which at the end of the day, is part of the whole experience.