The holidays are just a license to eat and to buy treats for friends that we hope will share them with us. Sunday’s sunny weather brought many people out to Toronto’s Distillery District to eat and drink to keep warm. There are only about two weeks left for the annual Christmas market. If you’re going on the weekends, get there before 2:00 p.m. so that you can shop and then settle down in one of the many good restaurants for lunch and cocktails.
It’s December 26, and while many of you have barely digested and recovered from your big Christmas dinners, I know there are also a lot of you looking forward to more eating for New Year’s. So with that in mind, let me recommend Cluny’s in the Distillery District. A few weeks ago, I ventured into this beautiful new restaurant on Tank House lane for a solo brunch.
Washed in natural and warm lighting, Cluny’s is like a very large European cafe, there is an intricately laid blue and white tiled floor separating the space into grouped tables and intimate spaces. Bouquets of cream and buttercup yellow flowers in large vases, showcase the bakery buffet where staff prepare your baskets of croissants and breads.
The raw bar is stocked with a daily selection of oysters, claims and shrimp. Behind the bar is the bustling kitchen, efficiently sending out orders or egg dishes, burgers and salads from the brunch menu.
My server greets me warmly and asks what my preferences for my morning pastry basket to accompany my French press coffee.
My oeufs en cocotte, eggs cooked in a vessel like a small dutch oven, arrives with a grilled tomato, greens, truffle and fries. It is a dish that feels indulgent for a sunny but cold Sunday morning. I am thrilled that the frites are still quite warm, and soak up the truffle mayonnaise very well.
I people watch from my seat at the raw bar, where the friendly staff tell me about the menu and the features with entusiasm. I also get a great view of the other dishes guests are enjoying at the bar next to me.
The dinner menu features traditional bistro fare including foie gras dishes, mussels and frogs legs as well as some continental favourites to satisfy kids and non-seafood eaters. My best part of the menu for me, is the selection of cheese dishes, which includes my favourite, Sauvagine stuffed with truffle and sauteed in wild mushroom.
A wonderful setting, lots of seats – however, it is popular, so many sure to call ahead and make a reservation.
Cluny Bistro – 35 Tank House Lane, Distillery District, Toronto, Ontario
A few weeks ago, I found myself on The Danforth on the cold Thursday night after the previous day’s impromptu snow storm. Cold and looking for a new restaurant to try, of course, I fumbled on the recently opened Louis Cifer Brew Works. An enormous two level space that was former home to a few restaurants over more than twenty years.
A brew house that has a big list of beverages and gastro-pub fare – a little something for everyone. Their craft beer includes IPA (Indian Pale Ale), lager, blondes and hoptails. The bar menu includes Bourbons, whiskies and tequila.
Two levels make for lots of space to host events. With Steel Dan and Doobie Brothers playing, it wasn’t overly noisy that night, even though there was a party of about twenty people on the second level. Enough quiet tables for couples and family friendly.
The jumbo wings from the Shareables menu were crispy but a little dry. It probably would have been a good ideaa to ask for more blue cheese sauce, which is quite good, but not enough. The Rosemary Fries are crispy and aromatic with the accompanyin roasted garlic aioli.
I always gravitate towards fish dishes, no matter where I am. The Pan Seared Atlantic Salmon did not disappoint. It is served with green beans and roasted potatoes over a sweet corn chowder. The chowder is rich and smooth complementing the fish. It will be hard for me to visit Louis Cifer again and not order this dish.
Creme Brule, yes, another one of my go to desert on a wintry night! Sweet and creamy, I happily devoured ever spoonful
For a cold night, it was busy – lots of good-looking burgers, sandwiches and fish and chips have flown by me as I enjoyed my salmon.
Warm atmosphere, comforting food and enough craft brews to take you through the winter, are good reasons to go to get yourself to The Danforth. Happy Eating!