It takes an exceptional restaurant to bring me out to the Parkdale neighbourhood, which partially explains why it’s taken me this long to stop by Chantecler. The last time I was in the area, the weather was warm and we walked along Queen after eating at Grand Electric. I’m glad Chantecler takes reservations, because the weather that night wouldn’t have made for a pleasant wait outside.

Atmosphere: The dining space is crowded with a bar along one wall and high tables along the other. A large wooden table, comfortable for 8, snug for 10 occupies the space at the the front window. That’s where my party was seated, around the end. It was snug, and we did have to move around anytime someone had to leave their seat. Walking to the washroom downstairs was also quite a feat with puffy winter jackets hung on the back of seats. Be careful, the bottom stair was slightly shorter than the others. During our meal, the group occupying the rest of our table turned over once, just as we were getting dessert. The restaurant was loud to the point where my throat was a little hoarse the next day. It was hard to hold up a conversation over the music.

Service: Overall, the service was friendly but there were a few hiccups. It felt like we were being asked for our order as soon as we sat down. Then after we had the time to go over the menu and decide, it was awhile before our server had a chance to come back. We were celebrating my friend’s birthday and I had asked if it was possible to have any customized touches to dessert when I was confirming the reservation. They were able to light a birthday candle in the sundae, which was awesome. When the dessert was brought over, I think there was some confusion as to whose birthday it was (I didn’t get a chance to tell our host) and the server walked by with the sundae, and walked away and came back. It was pretty funny cause my back was to all of this while the birthday girl saw everything. Besides those two points, everything arrived quickly, with an explanation of the dish and we were well tended.

Food: We started the night off with a couple of cocktails, gin and grapefruit for myself and the birthday girl, and a Penicillin for the BF. He loves scotch, I’m not a fan. So we enjoyed our pink fruity drink while he sipped on his.

It was a given we were getting the Lettuce Meal, so the question was what dishes to order as starters. We settled on the Calamari, Steak Tartare and Spicy Popcorn Shrimp. The Calamari was very tender and dripping in the peanut tamarind sauce. The tamarind used was on the sour side, which complimented the sweetness in the caramelized sauce but overpowered any peanut flavour for me. A nice spin on calamari. Everyone loved the Steak Tartare. It’s one of my favourite dishes anywhere and the steak tartare at Chantecler was one of the best I’ve had. The addition of wasabi and peanut added a crunch and a perfect touch of heat. I’m slowly converting the BF’s opinion on raw beef and this plate definitely helped push him closer to my side. Next was the Spicy Popcorn Shrimp that was fried to the perfect plump and juicy texture. The batter was crispy and covered with freshly popped popcorn. We spent awhile trying to figure out how that was done but gave up in favour of just enjoying the dish. The seasoning had some heat, hints of sour and sweet.

That night the special was a duck leg confit, which we added to our lettuce meal. Romaine, bibb and iceberg lettuce arrived in a bowl, pickles and sauces together on a plate, a bowl of sticky rice, another plate with the duck leg with a serving of hoisin sauce and the braised beef and slow cooked pork shoulder was served in a metal bowl. The serving size was more than enough for the three of us. I liked the inclusion of bibb lettuce and could’ve done without the iceberg. Assembling my wrap, I loved the rich flavour of the braised beef and fattiness of the pork shoulder. The BF preferred the duck and I thought it was just ok. Both the birthday girl and I really enjoyed the sticky rice and was happy eating rice balls with drippings.

I had already pre-ordered the sundae dessert to end our meal on a sweet note and it delivered. A bowl of ice cream, topped high with whipped cream, caramelized bananas, with the added crunch of fruity cereal, Maltesers and Smarties. Each spoonful was like a treasure hunt for toppings. I’m not sure if this is part of Chantecler’s regular menu or a special, but if it’s an option, get it!

Note that Chantecler accepts only cash or debit payment.

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