Address: 35 Tank House Lane, Toronto, ON M5A 3C4
Phone: (416) 203-2632
Clungy Bistro is a classy yet casual French restaurant in a heritage building located down a lane in the artsy, rustic, historical Distillery District of Downtown Toronto. When all the buildings in the district look all the same, what differentiates one from another is the exterior decor and signs they expose themselves to attract their clientele. Also, word of mouth.
The moment you step into the restaurant, the grand mellow atmosphere is very relaxing and welcoming. Wine bottles are displayed in floor to ceiling cabinetry. Classic chinaware handmade in France are displayed carefully in the lighted glass cabinets too.
There is a patisserie to the left of the front entrance. Definitely check it out when you have time because their display and products look scrumptious. It acts like a small cafe.
It is evident that this interior design is heavily invested into. The dining area is brimming with many classic Parisian elements, from patterned floors to rich texture in its intelligent ceiling carpentry to simple dining set. Why I call the ceiling a smart design because it is still an open element, hanging under the ventilation system hiding it from view but still easily maintained or cleaned regularly. This interior design is a spectacular piece that combines traditional design with modern elements. You do not feel the decor dated or boring. There is a livelihood atmosphere around you.
Even their menu has a nicely designed logo and artistry to it.
Their dining ware are all gilded by their name, making it a brand, a memory engraved in our minds. Everything we experience has a play in all our sensory system, doing the best it can. This just shows how the restaurant is a form of pride. Also shows how French is a menticulous group.
Complimentary baguette or bread is served before our appetizers and main courses. One of their breads were infused or baked with rosemary and thyme. One was white and another was a baked multigrain bread. All were freshly baked and cut from the baguette table at the center of the restaurant. A good meal began from the complimentary bread platter.
Melted Gruyere ($16) is a French onion soup with glazed onions in rich beef broth. It was extremely rich and salty after few spoonful. The top layer was very cheesy, and loaded with croutons or bread crumbs, baked nicely to a melted crunchy texture. I enjoyed the stringiness and the dairy flavour of the cheese, which blended nicely with the onion loaded broth. The combination was hard to not like it, thoroughly enjoyed it. I liked how it was baked in a small cast iron “Le Crusot” bowl because the heat was well distributed and maintained the same temperature for quite some time.
Table Side Wellington County Beef Tartare ($14) served with the works and crisp Cluny baguette. The lean beef tartare was served in a “Le Crusot” ceramic ramekin, which was heavy duty and sturdy. The tartare was not boringly mixed with eggs, capers, seasoning and garnishes. Green peas, beans, green onions, and roe were added into the mixture. It made the tartare extra crunchy with every bite. The flavours were solid, really fresh and tender. The works is a house made sauce of butter with cilantro and lemon juice, which I thought was refreshing. With the baguette topped with beef tartare and the works, the outcome was exquisitely light, firm and crispy.
Ginger Chili Fried Frog’s Legs ($15) paired with pickled celery and ginger-chili sauce was an interesting appetizer served on iron slate. The portions were small, but enough to cut up and share. Frog meat tastes like chicken in general but much smaller in size. The legs were fried crisply while maintaining its juiciness and tenderness. You have to dip the meat into the sauce to give it some flavour, otherwise it was just lightly salted. The sauce had some hot spicy kick to it, where the ginger was raw burning hot and the chili was sweet and sour. The celery was thinly shaved and quite watery. It was not as sour or pickled as I thought it would be, therefore it was still quite sweet and crunchy. Interestingly enough, the three parts seemed like a weird combination but it meshed nicely together, giving dimension and creativity. This was my favourite appetizer of the night.
Veal Meatball “Tomahawk” ($23) was braised in thick tomato sauce, and served with Parisian gnocchi. Veal was finely ground and made into a paste where it was shaped like a meatball to stick onto a piece of bone, giving the appearance of a drumstick. I appreciate the creativity put onto the appearance of the dish. The veal meatball was firm and light. I was also able to taste a bit of cheese in the veal. When you cut it in half, the meatball had air pockets, where it can retain the tomato sauce. I LOVE the rich tomato sauce, which was extremely sweet and full of tomato essence, paired with the meatball, it felt very Italian. Gnocchi was cooked al dente, maintaining its water content. It had a light buttery flavour and well garnished with cilantro. The gnocchi was extremely light and kind of desolate. Though, I compliment how everything was separated, giving you the room to mix everything or do whatever you enjoy.
Hunter’s Stew ($24) was made of rabbit, pheasant sausage, beef cheek, in whole mustard sauce. The stew was more like a soup, where the broth was quite liquefied, instead of the thick texture (viscosity) I was expecting. Flavour was also quite bland, close to flavourless in my opinion. However, the texture of the meat was really soft, very pliable and melt in your mouth. When it was all put in together, i could not differniate which meat was which, except the sausage. Overall, this dish was somewhat a disappointment to me. If only they can bring in more seasoning.
Drunken Tuna ($28) is seared ahi tuna with red pepper pesto, pomme puree, rocket salad, and sherry vinaigrette. Tuna was seared beautifully, where the core was still soft, raw and red with the outside being a smokey flavour. This entree was also quite standard with a slight Japanese inspiration. Everything was fresh and zesty with the sweet pesto, sour cider like vinaigrette. It tasted good but nothing was amazingly spectacular with the entree.
8oz Hanger Steak ($21) was grilled medium rare, served with lemon & garlic aioli and frites. The steak was standard also, nothing spectacular to note about. This was probably the safest selection of the evening because what can really go wrong with a steak. The steak was juicy, tender and firm, very soft to the bite. The steak was dry aged before grilling, therefore the flavour, fat and juices were evenly distributed and retained. But, I think all of us were attratched to the frites more because it was just so crunchy and who does not like potatoes. We were nonstop munching on them and if we had another plate, we would still be eating. These frites served a good snack for everyone at the table.
Cluny was a creative and conservative restaurant at the same time. The chefs used different cooking techniques to produce their food menu to attract their clients. Most importantly, there was a bit of everything for everyone to try and to suit your palate and needs. I will return to the restaurant to try their desserts and brunch because I have heard positive reeponses about it. Keep up with the fresh foods! Keep up with your creative ideas! Keep up with the art and stylish atmosphere!