Another French bistro has graced our beautiful city, but this time it’s on the east side located in the beautiful Distillery District. Cluny Bistro & Boulangerie takes up over 6,000 square-feet of real estate, and at full capacity (once the 250-person patio is opened) will feed over 450 mouths at a time. The kitchen is ginormous, surrounded by a raw bar, and guests have the ability to watch the chefs hard at work. Speaking of chefs, there is one man that has practically slept in the new eatery every night for the last month: Executive Chef Paul Benallick, who is responsible for creating a modern French menu palatable for all.
We had the opportunity to taste the menu before Cluny officially opened to the public, and it is exactly as the chef described: modern French. With items like Buffalo style sweet breads (served with Frank’s hot sauce) and battered and deep-fried frog legs, guests can enjoy some classic French dishes masked by a contemporary taste. The flavour profile of the menu does vary quite a bit as we tasted a fish crudo with a sweet and sour sauce inspired by Asian cuisine, and a chickpea and sweet potato stew over couscous inspired by Morocco. All were tasty, delicious, and comforting.
The restaurant menu is not the only one Torontonians will be privy to, though. Come October the “boulangerie” part of Cluny will open, meaning popping in for a quick coffee and freshly baked croissant (to grow our waistlines, natch) will be far too convenient. Predicted to open at 7am every morning, they will be serving freshly baked goods daily.
So, as mentioned, the food at Cluny is great – but let’s talk about the vibe. The vision of this restaurant really stands out and once you’re there you don’t want to leave. The attention to detail in design is exceptional, with high ceilings making the main dining room very grandiose and cozy banquettes that are easy to sink into and sip wine for hours. The bustling room is convivial and actually transports you out of Toronto and into a proper Parisian bistro ambiance.
After we delighted in the menu tasting, we met up with Executive Chef Paul Ballanick to hear more about how Cluny Bistro & Boulangerie came to be and how he’s been surviving the last month of opening a restaurant of this grandeur. All we discovered, though, is that with a pedigree that includes Auberge du Pommier, Canoe and Stock Restaurant, this chef simply makes it look easy.
Will you grabbing a Parisian bite at Cluny Bistro? Let us know in the comments below or tweet us @ViewTheVibe.