Toronto’s Distillery District is unique. Ten years ago a small group of developers saw these derelict Victorian Industrial buildings that had been pronounced a national historic site and imagined transforming it not into a tourist village, but into an area that showcases fantastic food, designs and ideas. Since 2003 this area which was once the site of the Gooderham and Woorts Distillery, is now full of restaurants, stores and galleries (and still quite a lot of beer). It is often used as a film set and tonight was full of models and beautiful looking people walking home after a fashion show in one of its many artistic spaces.
It was rainy and cold out so our first stop in the Distillery District was actually Soma Chocolates where we had our hot chocolate fix for the evening…or so we thought. Before we left there we asked some of the staff where they thought we should go for dinner and they were unanimous in saying we should go to Cluny just across the lane.
It was still raining when we walked outside to Cluny but it wasn’t keeping people away. The Distillery District was quiet, but Cluny was jam packed and buzzing with energy. To the left of the entrance is a French bakery complete with baguettes and pain au chocolate. To the right is a bar area full of mirrors and glasses of champagne. But we wanted to be in the stunning the main room.
The restaurant is inspired by a French bistro and takes a lot of elements from one, while at the same time being nothing like a French bistro. It is playful and fresh, very romantic with touches from around the world. The beautifully decorated ceiling and floors have a Mediterranean, almost northern African feel. Several large glass displays are filled with illustrated china. There is a seafood bar area where you can sit and watch the staff preparing the fresh seafood (Torontonians apparently love their seafood). A long table in the middle of the restaurant is covered in freshly baked breads, cut up and presented to us at our table.
The food was light and colourful and soooo good. Our waitresse brought us course after course of beautiful food, fresh oysters from PEI, rib eye for Rich and a drunken tuna for me. At the end of all of it, happy and full we spotted Hot Chocolate on the dessert menu and couldn’t resist. “Ohhh you made a good choice” hums the waitress. “the hot chocolate here is so good, I’m so jealous”. She goes on to describe that it is made from a super thick bittersweet ganache made in house by their chef using his own secret recipe. She then prepares it using condensed milk and presents it to use with a few shortbread squares on the side. It was light and malty and delicious. A perfect finish to a perfect meal and night out.
Verdict: Great all around. I’m dying to go back. Cluny, 35 Tank House Lane, Toronto, Ontario, Canada