Cluny Bistro (Toronto)

Location: Toronto, Canada
Address: 35 Tank House Lane
Type of Meal: Dinner

Be prepared to take in the sights as you step into Cluny’s dining room. Wrought iron and light posts comingle with black & white gingham and creamy wood furniture. The end product leaves you feeling like you’re dining on a Parisian patio (when sitting in the middle) or in a bistro overlooking the patio (if sitting on the outskirts). For further details, including pictures, about their atmosphere check out #Parv's writeup.

Even all the dishes are charming with beautiful embroidery and a subtle “Cluny” embossed on them. Their Winterlicious menu ($35) offered many great dishes at an affordable price. The tomato and saffron braised calamari arrives hot in a stainless steel pot, wonderfully fragrant and soaking up the sauce’s flavours. Normally, I have calamari grilled or fried, but braising it changes the texture leaving it very tender and almost juicy.

I could have done without the tasteless fennel but the sauce of tomato and stewed peppers was delicious. It was perfect for dipping piece after piece of soft bread into.

The beer braised beef cheeks encapsulated so much of what I enjoy. Tender, flavourful beef that’s hearty and makes you want to close your eyes to savour the juices. The subtle zing of horseradish that hits you in an unexpected way. Roasted celeriac and beautifully caramelized brussel sprouts to calm the meatiness of the dish. And the plump grains of barley which provides just a bit of contrast against the softness of the dish.  

Perhaps it’s due to the richness of the beef cheeks but the BBQ steelhead trout was very bland in comparison. The fish was flaky and moist but lacked seasoning; the almond sauce merely seemed non-existent. The flageolet beans was also fairly lackluster and could benefit from some bacon. Only the roasted carrots showed any promise with their natural sweetness shining through.

A quintessential French dessert is the light as air profiteroles. At Cluny, they are filled with a rich chocolate and roasted hazelnut chantilly and arrives with warm chocolate sauce that you can drench on top of everything.

Thankfully, Cluny didn’t inherit the snooty French service attitude, everyone we dealt with was friendly and warm. But, what I loved most is when a restaurant offers a drink pairing with their Winterlicious menu. For an extra $20, a small light ale accompanied the calamari, a full glass of red wine helped wash down the beef cheeks and a dessert wine to sip after polishing off the profiteroles.

Cluny was certainly the Winterlicious highlight for me this year. With its lovely location in the Distillery District and the promised patio outside, I can’t wait for the weather to warm up and to go back for some brunch. 

Overall mark - 8.5 out of 10

Is Winterlicious worth it?

As a special feature to the Winterlicious blogs, I will attempt to calculate the savings being offered (based on my meal selection). 

Winterlicious - $35

Regular menu* - $47 - calamari ($13), beef cheeks ($24) and profiterole ($10)

Savings - $12 or 26%

* In Cluny's case it's pretty hard to deduce the potential savings as most items aren't part of their regular menu; prices are based on the snail cassoulet and hunter stew

    Like the blog?  Follow me on twitter to chat and for notifications on new posts -

    Gastro World's Grading System
    • Anything under 5 - I really disliked and will never go back
    • - decent restaurant but I likely won't return
    • 7 - decent restaurant and I will likely return
    • 8 - great restaurant that I'd be happy to recommend
    • 9 - fantastic restaurant that I would love to visit regularly and highly recommend
    • 10 - absolute perfection!