Nestled between two buildings in the heart of Yorkville and at the very end of an alley, Chabrol is in an inconspicuous location that is easily overlooked. What would be harder to miss however, is the warm welcome that the small restaurant received when it opened its doors at 90 Yorkville Avenue. Since then, Chabrol has become the french restaurant to go to when in the area.
Upon arriving at the location, it is undeniable that Chabrol has made the best of its location. The patrons are guided to the restaurant through a brick pathway lined with parallel rows of boxwood shrubs. In the summer, white marble tables are left outside to form a patio that exponentially increased the capacity of the twenty seat restaurant. The main dining room itself is a small box of white bricks with floor to ceiling windows that allow natural daylight to flood the room.
We are greeted that day by Niall McCotter, co owner of Cava and Chabrol, and catered to by Chef de Cuisine Ian Clarkson. Upon inspection of the menu, it is clear that the restaurant doesn't stray far from its southern french influences. It is a well curated selection of french classics where everyone would easily find something to make them happy.
We started off our meal with a plate of six delicious oysters and the Tartine of Cured trout. The oysters were incredibly meaty and had a complex flavour that married wonderfully with the mignonette that it was served with. The tartine looked colourful and was conveniently cut into six smaller pieces which made it easier to eat. The brioche was nicely toasted and buttery and the salad of sliced and julienned radishes it was served with added a nice crisp and lemony aspect to the dish. My appetizers were paired with a tasty, freshly pressed blood orange juice that has become a stable for me when dining at Chabrol.
The next plate to arrive at our table was the Albacore Tuna Niçoise. This particular salad has been a favourite of mine since I’ve been introduced to it. It seems deceitfully easy to execute and yet I always stubble upon places that butcher the precious memories I have of the dish. Chabrol, however, is an exception. The tuna was fresh and delicate and its accompanying salad was lightly tossed in an anchovy vinaigrette that revealed the hidden flavours in the dish rather than masking them. Congratulations Chabrol; you made me smile while eating, a task that could have been added as a thirteenth labour for Hercules.
The Tuna Niçoise was followed by the T’toro, a dish similar to a bouillabaisse, consisting of scallops, shrimp, mussels and white fish. Far too often, seafood is overcooked at restaurants, but thankfully that day was not the case. Everything was perfectly cooked and paired wonderfully with the hearty broth. With our dish nearing completion, it was time to chabrol; the action of pouring some wine in the soup to get the last bit of it all.
Our last main dish was the Galantine of chicken. The meat was very moist and reminiscent of the steamed chicken dish commonly found in Chinese cuisine. The chicken was served with julienned zucchini, a julienned chickpea flatbread called Socca and Sauce Suédoise, a sauce similar to a mayonnaise. I will admit that this was my least favourite dish. There was an overwhelming horseradish flavour and the texture was all a bit too mushy for my taste.
Last, but not least, came the Apple tarte paired with a calvados sabayon made to order. There is a little bit of a wait when it comes to the apple tarte due to the fact that the restaurant insists on baking them fresh. The tart’s base is a puff pastry which would tend to get soggy from the apples if they were to be pre made by the restaurant. By making them to order, the restaurant refuses to compromise on the flavour and texture of the dish which is admirable. The result is a bite of heaven as you take in the flaky puff pastry, the warm apples cooked al dente and the airy sabayon. Desserts have the power to completely alter your perception of a meal, but the apple tarte simply complimented an already fantastic lunch.
Chabrol does not try to redefine or popularize a new kind of cuisine. The restaurant prides itself in making simple, traditional and succulent french classics and in that they succeed. Each dish was equally delicious and true to the name of the restaurant, each of them deserving to be chabrol’ed.