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Jul 9, 2014 10:27 AM

Anyone been to Cluny in the Distillery yet?

Supposed to head to Cluny ( with a few other couples for dinner on Saturday. There hasn't been any mention of the place yet on this board. Has anyone been? Any general reviews? Any specific dish recommendations/cautions?

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  1. Yes, SO and I checked it out this past Saturday. Kids tucked away with the babysitter, we headed there for 7:45PM and even though they had only been open for 12 days, the place was jam packed (we had a res). The vibe is very white on white, be achy california vibe if that makes any sense. Our server was very attentive and she was so keen on making sure that we were enjoying ourselves (too keen probably) we ordered a couple of their signature cocktails and they weren't for us (foamy egg white style) but that was our bad for not realizing how much we just don't like sweet cocktails with eggwhites. Then we moved onto wine and their sommelier gave us a recommendation that I would never have considered to be honest but we LOVED it, it was a pinot gris from Oregon. Food was top notch, we started with oysters, kingfish crudo dish, and a spicy salmon tartar. All really great. then we had the BBQ sea bass with a side of asparagus frites (yummy) and the duck salad (with pickled rhubarb) very tasty. We tend to order too much as we like to try stuff. All in all, we would not hesitate to go back and once their patio is ready (end of the month) it will be even better I'm sure! The one snag was that the washrooms for the women ran out of towels and only one stall had TP. My SO figured that this was a growing pain thing for a new restaurant but it was still a pain.

    1 Reply
    1. re: Foodiesmith

      The Cuban Libre event was on this past weekend (sponsored by Bacardi) which I think brought even more people than usual down to the area. Cluny was booked "solid" when we inquired (I did take a quick walk in and it did look nice).

      A friend went she she said they have great frites.

    2. Have been there twice now. Loved it. Try the grilled cheese app. the duck poutine, scallop ceviche, burger (tuna and steak) and soufflé. They are all incredible. if you like sweet cocktails, there is one with sorbet that is outstanding.

      1. Thanks for the info guys. Now I'm really looking forward to the place. Both urban spoon and yelp had unanimously positive reviews but I'm always skeptical of restos that have just opened and get glowing buzz - I think a lot of the time it's friends and families hitting various social media vehicles to bolster business. Glad to hear Cluny is the real deal!

        3 Replies
        1. re: elkerette

          So you think everyone on Yelp is a friend or family, but that Chowhounders are unbiased reviews? So many of us on here are in the business, etc….

          1. re: canadianbeaver

            ie. First post for sparkyandginger

            1. re: canadianbeaver

              Touché, canadianbeaver and dlw88. It's true that chowhounders can also be biased but, while I have been burned by early Yelp and Urbanspoon user reviews in the past, chowhound has thus far never led me astray. I'll let you all know what this 'hound (who swears she has no connection to the resto or its management) thinks of the place this weekend!

          2. Glad to hear this sounds promising. We're holding back on visiting because I heard it's run by the same people as El Catrin which also looks beautiful but had mediocre and very expensive food both times we visited. I'm concerned Cluny might be similar, but perhaps they're destined for something better....

            4 Replies
            1. re: Gary

              I actually think that it isn't run by the same ppl. I got the head chef's card for the distillery group of restos this weekend and Cluny isn't on it but El Catrin is. Maybe it is just an old card but I didn't get the impression from him that they are running Cluny.

              1. re: JennaBean

                According to this article/interview it is owned by the same people that run a bunch of the other Distillery District spots -


                "With four successful restaurants under their belts, owners Mathew Rosenblatt and John Berman (El Catrin, The Boiler House, Pure Spirits and Archeo) decided to open a fifth that fuses French cuisine and international flavours."

                I assume they are accurate since they interviewed the owner but then again they said that "Boiler House" is one of their restaurants but that is the spot that got replaced with the Mexican spot.

                1. re: ylsf

                  Must be the last of his old cards then and it makes me sad. I've had ZERO luck at any of the places owned by this group. All show, no substance.

                  1. re: JennaBean

                    Agreed. Boiler House was one of the worst meals I've had in Toronto and El Catrin a few weeks ago wasn't much better.

                    Until I hear some great things from some of my more trusted posters here, this is a pass.

                    Also, that bone-in meatball dish is yanked from Joe Beef.

            2. I wonder if the person who designed Cluny also designed Weslodge. I was at Weslodge yesterday and the tiles looked very similar :)

              2 Replies
              1. re: ylsf

                Good eye, ylsf - google leads me to believe both spots were designed by the Munge Leung design firm. I just hope the food is better at Cluny than at Weslodge (which I was disappointed in when I visited last year).

                1. re: elkerette

                  Went on Saturday with my husband and two other couples. Like everyone has said, Cluny is spectacular looking. Lots of white and cream, with beautiful tiles. Kudos to the entire design team.

                  I had made a ressie on opentable and then called the restaurant on Saturday afternoon to confirm all the details. Despite this (and arriving right on time) we had to wait around for our table for about 10 minutes. One very timid apology the whole time we waited. Hostess station had about six people standing behind it, all of whom looked frantic and super stressed. I overheard one man checking in, explaining that he had a reservation, and the hostess explaining that he would have to sit at the bar because they didn't have any available tables in the dining room. He echoed my sentiments of "um... doesn't a reservation typically mean reserving a table?!?" Hopefully it’s just opening kinks… but really – three weeks after opening you’d think they would be able to figure something as basic as a reservation schedule out.

                  We were pleasantly surprised to be seated at a round table right opposite the bread and seafood stations. Why don’t more restaurants do round tables? They are so great for encouraging conversation – no one feels left out.

                  We all had cocktails which were universally well received. My “brise d’ete” was delicious – very sweet with a hint of tartness and very cold. The cocktail menu did seem to veer towards the sweet end of the spectrum. Not sure if that’s a temporary summer plan – I can’t imagine wanting most of what was on the list in the depths of winter. We also ordered a couple bottles of an Argentine malbec to share, and several folks also had a few beers each (they drank blanche de Chambly, and I believe they also had Maudite on tap).

                  Onto food. The bread basket was lovely and included a variety of different types of crusty selections. The piece of olive bread I tried had what I consider to be overly large pieces of olives in in (I prefer them to be smaller and more evenly scattered throughout a loaf). Butter served alongside was the right temperature and perfectly spreadable (I hate it when you get cold butter that tears up your bread).

                  We split a bunch of appetizers. Two dozen oysters (kumamatos and kushis) disappeared quickly (nothing special, but well shucked!) Ginger frogs’ legs were a definite highlight – the best quasi-chicken wings ever with a really nice spice level. The “kimchi” served alongside was pretty watery and unforgettable though. The beef tartare came in a beautiful cast iron pot and had a raw egg on top, which was mixed in tableside. Nothing spectacular, but a good all-around beef tartare. Wish it came with more crostinis on the side. Figs with Roquefort and honey were really good and simple (and the figs were absolutely huge and sweet – very nice!) The duck poutine was very disappointing. We all assumed it would use the same thin frites that we saw passing through the dining hall on other tables’ plates. Instead, the kitchen used big steakhouse fries which disintegrated into the gravy and cheese until the dish looked more like a plate of mashed potatoes with gravy and cheese. A definite pass.

                  Mains were all over the place. A friend’s tomahawk meatball was deemed the best of the bunch – it looked very cool with a big bone handle, had good flavor and texture and came with a nice side of parisien gnocchi. Two people had the lamb dish which they liked but said that they wished the portion was larger (the portions varied a LOT from dish to dish). The basque chicken was deemed “fine” and not worthy of much more comment. My duck and rhubarb salad was disappointing – overly big hunks of rhubarb and mushy duck with a strange, large cube of plain puff pastry perched on top. NOT good.

                  We all chose to forego dessert except for one friend who decided to splurge on the macaron ice cream sandwiches which she loved. Messy to eat, but they looked great and were devoured quickly. Coffee came in individual French presses which was a nice touch.

                  Ladies washroom ran out of toilet paper in all three stalls AND of hand towels. That’s just poor management – when the place in full, you have to think of these kinds of things.

                  Total bill for six appetizers, six mains, 1 dessert, cocktails, wine and beer came to around $650 before tax and tip. Not terrible price wise.

                  Will I be going back? Maybe for drinks and apps before a show at the Young Centre, probably not for a full dinner out. Cluny is, sadly, the French version of Weslodge – a beautiful room, good cocktails, food only okay.