Tucked down a quaint alley off of Toronto’s coveted Yorkville street, you will find Chabrol. The first impression is sublime and not overly flashy that is otherwise common in the area. Apart of a family of restaurants, the oldest being Cava, it’s name indicative of Spanish tapas, Chabrol is second in line with their French cuisine followed by the newly opened Atlas Restaurant sporting a Moroccan flare. My friend was chatting with one of the owners and we learned of how Chabrol came to be. Apparently he happened to of stumbled upon this alley and thought it would make a great spot for a restaurant and thought hey, why not French food.
During the summer, Chabrol extends its modest space into the alleyway to open up their patio space. With this, they are able to accommodate three times it normally does which was perfect as my friend snatched a table last minute. When we arrived, we were welcomed with a charming patio space.
Note: I don’t sit out on patios too often because I’m like a vampire, I just burn (I also wear a lot of black but who’s really keeping track?) I do however, make the occasional exception – it was the perfect summer day, the sun was out, it was not too hot, there was a nice breeze, the area was shaded, it checked off all of the metaphoric checkboxes on my ridiculous list of requirements.
To start, we got the Quiche and the Tartine of Cured Trout. It’s funny because at first my friend did not want to try the quiche thinking that it might contain cheese but we confirmed with the waiter that it did not. She enjoyed it so much that she specifically gave a short list of her favourites on the menu, first being the white fish, followed by the apple tarte and then the quiche (just a side note, this was her fourth time dining at Chabrol this year).
I always appreciate a good quiche because I know how much work goes into making one. Every bite was delightful and I couldn’t figure out how they managed to get the eggs so light and fluffy. I can definitely see this item being on everyone’s short list.
The Tartine of Cured Trout was simple yet delicious. It was not too salty and had the perfect amount of seasoning on top. It reminded me of the tartines I would get in Paris when I felt a bit peckish in the afternoons.
My friend and I both really like squash, so when I noticed a salad on the menu featuring roasted squash, I was immediately drawn to it. Honestly, I don’t know what it is about french salads but they’re always so appetizing. This one featured a champagne vinagrette which set it apart from others.
Our waiter had recommended the mushrooms a la grecque. This dish had a medley of artichoke and peas, giving it a nice contrast. I had singled out the mushrooms right away because I was not too crazy about the artichoke that had a pickle taste, similar to that of olives. If you are a fan of that taste however, then this is the dish for you.
The whitefish was my favourite main of the night. It’s served in a pouch made of parchment paper, the server cuts it open in front of you and pours a butter sauce on top to finish it off. If there’s one thing that I learned from french cooking was to get a gym membership because they use a lot of butter – also, butter makes everything better.
Anytime I see gratin on a menu, I will always order one. There’s just something about the bread crumbs and layers of creaminess that gets me every time. Nonetheless, I already knew that we were ordering one before we even sat down at Chabrol because one of my other friends had recommended it so I immediately asked if we could get it. I usually find that most gratins could use more breadcrumbs but the Gratin of Escarole had more than enough, leaving a nice crunchy texture in each bite.
One of the first things my friend noticed immediately when we sat down to dinner was that the menu changed. As such, we were undecided about ordering the chicken as it was new to the menu. It turned out to be another favourite of the night, a strong contender to the whitefish. The chicken was perfectly soft and tender, as it melted in your mouth. In all my years of friendship with my best friend, I don’t think I have ever heard her exclaim how good a dish was, let alone multiple times throughout the course.
At this point we were really full but we were saving room for dessert. Anyone who has been to Chabrol will tell you to order the Apple Tarte, it’s a must. It does take some time to prepare, so what better excuse then to take a break from eating. It was well worth the wait – the pastry was nice and flakey with a good amount of thinly sliced apples. I enjoy baking and can only imagine how much skill and technique went into making the Apple Tarte. I have only read the directions to make puff pastry but decided against it because it looked too difficult to execute. I just buy puff pastry instead. It was mesmerizing watching the waiter pour the sabayon sauce on top and it tasted heavenly.
Overall, Chabrol was phenomenal – I don’t think I have ever been to a restaurant before where I enjoyed every single item ordered during the night (if it does happen, its very rare). I finally understood why my friend keeps coming back, even I’m in love. Honestly, there is no need to travel thousands of miles to France for french cuisine when you can just head to Chabrol.