Monday, September 15, 2014

Cluny Bistro & Boulangerie in the Distillery

Once home to the largest distillery in the British Empire, Toronto's restored Distillery District is home to North America's best-preserved collection of Victorian industrial architecture, providing a stunning backdrop for a collection of local cafés, art galleries and restaurants, including one of the district's newer additions, Cluny Bistro & Boulangerie. Converted from a 19th-century tank houses of the now-defunct Gooderham and Worts Distillery, the luminous 11,000-square-foot space with soaring cathedral ceiling is a neo-Parisian stunner. Designed by Toronto firm Munge Leung, the space was inspired by the ornately appointed dining rooms of Paris but with a playful unpretentious approach. Adorned with exposed brick walls, gilt-framed mirrors, marble surfaces, custom cabinets which showcase vintage French servingware and curios to hand-painted glass walls and fabulous French country furnishings, the space is bright, beautiful and dripping with l'esprit français. 

Cluny Bistro dinner menu

Chef Paul Benallick's menu which fuses modern French cuisine, fresh international flavours with regional Canadian produce are innovative, interesting and playful, with dishes such as Salt Cod Donuts with Smoked Potato Dipping Sauce, Quebec-Style Potted Pork Paté, Roasted Duck Poutine, Crisp Erie Perch 'Shore Lunch' and Qualicom Bay Scallops from B.C. There are also traditional classics which include French Onion Soup, Beef Tongue and Steak-Frites, but also fusion dishes such as Moroccan Chickpea Potato Stew, Asian-inspired Ahi Seared Drunken Tuna and Ginger-Chili Fried Frog's Legs with Vietnamese dipping sauce. For theatre-goers, Cluny is conveniently located across the cobblestone lane to Toronto's celebrated Soulpepper Theatre Company in the Distillery District's Young Centre for the Performing Arts — and with its adjacent Boulangerie, which is open until 10:00pm each evening, selling house made croissant, pain au chocolate, tarte au citron and a lovely selection of house made gelato, it's makes a sweet interlude at intermission for those craving 'quelque chose de sucré'. Mon Dieu!

The Moulin Vert made with Citadelle Gin, Curacao d’Orange, St. Germain, Muddled Kiwi and lime garnish

French 75 with Citadelle Gin, Curacao d’Orange, Champagne and twist of lemon

A basket of fresh baked bread from Cluny's in-house boulangerie

A glass of 2013 Italian Pinot Grigio, Forchir ‘Lamis’ from Fruili Venzia Giulia

Crisp Sesame Baked Asparagus 'Frites' served with a spicy yogurt dipping sauce

Potted Pork Creton: A Quebec-Style Pork Paté with toasted apple bread 
and a copper pot of apple and lemon balm jam

Salt Cod Donuts with Smoked Potato Dipping Sauce

Open Faced Triple Salmon Ravioli with Smoked, Poached and Roe with Sorrel and Saffron Pasta

Steak Frites with Lemon Garlic Aioli

'Drunken' Seared Ahi Tuna with red pepper pesto, pomme purée, rocket salad and sherry vinaigrette

Macchiato with macaroon

Cluny Boulangerie with assorted fresh pastries such as madeleines, macaroons, 
tarte au citron and baskets of croissants and pain au chocolate

One of the croissants we bought from the Boulangerie for breakfast the next morning!

Cluny’s Qualicom Bay Scallops
Serves 4
Recipe courtesy of Chef Paul Benallick, Cluny Bistro & Boulangerie

6 large 'U10' sushi-grade scallops
1 small seedless watermelon 
4 limes
1/2 Anaheim pepper
1/2 clove garlic
1 bunch coriander
1/2 piece of palm sugar
2 tsp fish sauce
4 tbsp peanuts
1/4 dried guajillo chili 

Thinly slice the scallops with a sharp knife — you should get five to six slices per scallop. Dice the watermelon into 3/4-inch cubes.

In a mortar and pestle crush the garlic, coriander stems and chili into a fine paste. Mix in the palm sugar, then thin the paste down with fish sauce and reserve.

Toast the peanuts in a pan and crush with the back of a knife. Pick 1/4 bunch of coriander leaves, wash and dry on paper towel. Bake the guajillo chili in a 275°F oven for 15 minutes. Crush in between your fingers.

To finish, divide the scallops between four plates. Spoon on equal amounts of sauce and season with salt. Add five diced watermelon, crumbled chili, the crushed peanuts and fresh coriander leaves to each plate.

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