Cluny Bistro (Distillery District)

After dining for the third time at Cluny Bistro today, I can confidently say that I’ll be going back again soon!

Located in the heart of Toronto’s historic Distillery District, Cluny serves “modern French cuisine in a casual bistro setting.” There seems to be some confusion as to whether it’s a casual bistro or an upscale restaurant and boulangerie (bakery), but I digress. The service is always great (though wait times during busy hours are very long when waiting for your meal) and the cuisine and meal presentations always surpass my expectations! The decor is exquisite, with patterned floors, ceilings and plates that almost have a Mediterranean or Middle Eastern feel to them: 

The first time my family and I went to Cluny was for my birthday dinner last year and the second time was for my dad’s birthday dinner several weeks later. Today we were there to celebrate my dad’s birthday once again, but we decided to try their brunch instead of dinner. I was excited to try the Grilled Mushroom Benedict ($17.90), which is exactly what it sounds like – three poached eggs with hollandaise sauce served on two grilled portobello mushrooms. We asked for a third mushroom so that my grandma and I could share the meal:

The portobello mushrooms were very tasty – flavourful but not too pungent or earthy-tasting.  The consistency reminded me of very tender beef. My only gripe is that we requested the poached eggs to be cooked medium well and they came out quite runny…it wasn’t a big deal, but I think the runny yolk made it difficult for my grandma to eat all of her egg. Still, the mushroom Benedict is a great way to enjoy eggs Benedict without the added carbs and starch. That being said, we certainly didn’t need the addition of traditional English muffins given the side of tasty frites (thin-cut fries)! The garlic aioli was delicious, and I was happy to find it was lighter and less creamy than what you’d find at most burger joints. My dad ordered the Steak and Eggs ($24.90), a smorgasbord of grass-fed striploin beef, frites and two fried eggs that he was satisfied with but found a little plain. My mum and aunt shared the Grilled Chicken & Marrakesh Carrot Salad ($19.90), which included dates, pistachios, chickpeas and feta cheese. That salad has been consistently good and the chicken breast is always tasty and tender. FYI, most dishes seem to be big enough to share, especially if you’re a small eater.

If you’re going to Cluny for dinner and you enjoy cheese and mushrooms, you MUST get the Baked Sauvagine. It’s basically a round piece of breaded Sauvagine cheese that’s melted on the inside and stuffed with wild mushrooms and truffle paste, and then served with fresh sourdough bread. Incredible stuff (I’ve had it twice!). You’ll find several of the same items available on their brunch, lunch and dinner menus, so you have a good chance of getting the meal you want no matter what time of day you go.

As we finished our two orders of praline profiteroles ($6.50 each), we mentioned to the waitress that we were there to celebrate my dad’s birthday and asked if they could do something special for him (they gave us a plate of profiteroles on the house last year for my birthday!). She returned with a croissant and thick slab of brioche, both baked in-house. 🙂

Profiteroles with a side of hazelnutty goodness (the addition of mint leaves to the chocolate was unique and refreshing.)

In short, Cluny is worth a visit (or two). What are your favourite French bistros in Toronto?

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