Cluny, Bistro and Boulangerie
Modern French Cuisine
One of my favourite places in Toronto that elicits so much joy in me is definitely the Distillery District. There is something about how much history it has with the city, its cobbled stone streets, and little shops that make me feel like I’ve been transported in time to a different era. Whether its because of the Christmas Market which takes place there every year, or the food, or the one-of-a-kind pieces you can only discover in the boutiques that lines the district’s corridors – or simply because of the wonderful memories I’ve shared with my love here – the Distillery has become something of a favourite spot in the city for me.
And nestled in the district you will also find Cluny, Bistro and Boulangerie, a beautiful French restaurant that specializes in in-house baked bread, Parisian butter and truffles, and all round delicious contemporary French cuisine. At Cluny, Guelph born Chef Paul Benallick gives us French dining born from tradition, with fares like French onion soup, frog legs, and steak frites, but with an unpretentious modern flare.
To dine at Cluny’s is definitely about the experience. It’s not only about enjoying delicious foods made from honest ingredients, but also doing so in a beautifully designed space by Munge Leung, with all the hallmarks of a Parisian bistro including bespoke furnishings, hand-painted glass walls, and antique decor. From the dinnerware showcased in the cabinet in the lobby through the spacious, brightly lit dining room, and past the bathrooms with its vintage soap dishes, Cluny screams open, modern, France.
At the centre of dining room is a table with a lavish assortment of breads, and to the side is the restaurant’s raw-bar where you can also sit and watch the chefs shuck oysters live.
Image source: Pinterest
Honestly, its a gorgeous space and the ceiling is brilliant – simultaneously classically French with all its ornateness, yet modern as a result of the exposed concrete. I especially love the detail in the dinnerware which is gilded with the restaurant’s name.
The menu at Cluny offers a variety of small plates to share. For your appetizers, enjoy crisp sesame baked asparagus ‘frites’ with a tasty spicy yoghurt dipping sauce (pictured), beef bourguignon poutine (sounds fancy but delicious, right?), and smoked salmon & cultured butter with breakfast radish and creme fraiche (pictured).
For our main course, we ordered the seared tuna steak sandwich which is served on a house baked brioche, dried tomatoes, and topped with a fried egg, along with the truffled wagyu hache. The tuna was seared very well and not at all overcooked which is always a bit annoying to me, to have overcooked meats.
As for dessert, I really wanted to try the vanilla buttermilk pudding, and the bittersweet chocolate truffle bar, or the praline profiteroles. But we only had enough space left in our bellies for one dessert. So we opted for the passion fruit souffle which is served with vanilla creme fraiche and a side of pistachio financier which is like a cinnamony slice of banana bread that is fluffy in the centre but crispy on the outside. The creme fraiche is poured into a small insertion that is made in the souffle when its served at your table.
It was my first souffle ever and while I enjoyed, it John thought it was an odd dessert (too mushy for his taste) and preferred the financier instead (need more, not enough on plate!!). He loved that the creme fraiche was served in what looks like a tiny metal pot and we kept joking all night about how Ratatouille must be cooking in the kitchen because this was the cutest little pot we’ve ever seen.
If all this wasn’t enough, Cluny also has a bakery that serves up delicious French pastries that you can have in its cafe, or take home. As we were heading out, we decided to check it out and see if there was a treat we could take home with us to enjoy in the morning over coffee.
We bought a pear tart, a key lime pie tart, and a tropical buttermilk verine (pudding) – treats which I’ve been thoroughly enjoying while I write this blog entry as we speak.
The cafe is a sweet little spot where you can sit down and have a cup of joe with a sweet treat and enjoy a conversation. Besides coffee and dessert though, you can also pick up Cluny’s very own chocolate sauces, berry preserves, and Cluny brand teas. There is an entire wall of teas that made the whole space fragrantly floral.
So if you’re in the Distillery District and suddenly find yourself craving French fare and want to dine in an utterly inspiring space, Cluny’s may just be the place to go for a delightful Parisian dining experience.