Saturday, December 7, 2013

Sunday Lunch at Chantecler

By the lack of brunch posts on my blog it should be obvious that I'm not a brunch girl. 

I mean brunch food is good and all but it's not that good so I'm just not that into it. I know for a fact that I'm the minority here because everybody in this city goes berserk over brunch. I admit that having to wake up early Sunday morning doesn't help the cause but then knowing that I may have to line up half an hour for food is a major turn-off. Thanks, but no thanks. I choose my comfy and cozy bed.

I think the main reason why brunch is not appealing to me is because being Chinese I'm used to family-style dining. Perfect example would be dim sum! So many options and the opportunity to try so many things. Even dinner - whether it be my Mom cooking at home or eating out at a Chinese restaurant - we would always order multiple dishes for the table. Nobody is ever stuck eating the same plate of food the entire time. And when I'm not having Chinese food I'm all about tasting menus; multi-course meals are right up my alley. So unless I'm going to a brunch buffet a typical brunch is incredibly monotonous to me. I've always wondered: Why can't brunch be family-style? And if so, why isn't anybody doing it?

Well, in comes Chantecler.

Chantecler's Sunday lunch, happening every Sunday from 11:30am to 3:30pm, breaks away from the norm. Consistent with their communal-style dinners, chef and co-owner Jonathan Poon serves lunch - not "brunch" - with a menu consisting of shareable small plates. Go with a few friends and go nuts ordering for the table. I bet you haven't done that before for Sunday brunch lunch!

Anyway, some of Chantecler's dishes here are unlike anything I've seen before, or probably will ever see, in Toronto. Let's just say you won't find eggs benny, French toast or pancakes here....even their Caesar is different than anybody else's:

Szechuan Pepper, Clamato, Cucumber & Coriander

Remember what I said about going nuts ordering? My friends and I did just that when we had Chantecler's entire Sunday lunch menu last week. "Go big or go home", right? Feast your eyes, friends!

Heinz Ketchup 
Why? How about why not? Everybody loves hash browns! Fried to a nice golden brown served with a packet of Heinz ketchup, this is just plain fun.

Condensed Milk
Exceptionally soft with a slightly crisp coating, these fried steamed buns are served with a generous amount of thick, sweet condensed milk for dipping. No twist. Pure traditional Chinese plate here.

Parmesan & Hickory Sticks
Add Fried Chicken ($7)
The combination of hickory sticks and cheese on top of dressed romain works! Please do yourself a favour and add that fried chicken. You won't regret it. 

Shredded Lettuce & Mac Sauce
It is not often that you see shrimp burgers in the city. The shrimp patty here is incredibly soft and moist. Sandwiched between equally soft buns with "Mac" sauce and a side of chips, I urge you to give this burger a try. 

Sausage, Egg, Cheese & Brown Sauce 
Add Bacon ($2.5)
Chantecler's Fancy Muffin is, no doubt, many many times better that McDonald's Egg McMuffin. A thick, meaty patty sits on top of a fried egg which in turn sits on top of a warm English Muffin. Just beware of the runny yolk once you bite / cut into WILL get messy.

FISH WRAP ($4.5)
Haddock & Japanese Tartar Sauce
Dried Oyster, Roast Seaweed & Wild Rice
With an option of fried haddock or ground pork, the wraps are both served in lettuce cups. I personally prefer the fish wrap - the thin and lightly battered haddock is really tasty with that tartar sauce. These wraps are also offered during dinner.

Chinese Sausage & XO Sauce
This was my favourite dish. I normally don't order turnip cakes at dim sum because I usually find them dry and bland with mostly filler. But Chantecler's turnip cakes topped with Chinese sausage and their house-made XO sauce were absolutely fantastic - such great flavours. The turnip cake itself was also especially soft and moist, and with every bite I could taste real turnips. 

Slow Cooked Egg & Fried Garlic
A play on the classic chicken congee, Chantecler's version is less thick and less "congealed" than the traditional Chinese breakfast / lunch item. I actually really enjoy this twist on the congee; the addition of the slow-cooked egg gave it a smooth / luscious texture, and the punch of flavour from the fried garlic was wonderful. 

Garlic Oil & Scallion
This was a really nice dish. The shrimps' naturally sweet flavour was brought out and enhanced by the gentle drizzle of garlic oil. The vermicelli underneath were cooked perfectly, and the noodles that managed to soak up some of the extra garlic oil were the best ones. 

Peanut, Fish Sauce & Shrimp Chip
This beef tartare served during lunch is a variation of the one at dinner. Fish sauce replaces wasabi and shrimp chips replaces nori during the day. Both versions are tasty but I prefer the one with wasabi (because I like the heat) and I like using the nori for wrapping.

Grapefruit Cream
 An order normally comes with four donuts but they ran out! I'm glad we still managed to snag the last two. Rolled in sugar, these light and fluffy donuts come with a jar of delicious, tangy grapefruit custard. 

What a feast! From chef Poon's traditional Asian plates to some of his not-so-traditional ones, all the way to the extreme where he puts a twist on a fast-food chain's breakfast staple, I really enjoyed every single dish at Chantecler last week (Twitter: @ChanteclerTOFacebook: Chantecler). This is actually quite impressive since I'm not the easiest person to please when it comes to "Asian-inspired" or "Asian fusion" cuisine. Whether or not Chantecler's lunch menu appeals to you, you gotta give it to them for doing something different for Sunday brunch, or lunch, or whatever you wanna call it. Poon's menu is affordable, fun and extremely creative, and I encourage you to give it a try and step out of that "Eggs-benny-and-French-toast-for-brunch" box. And honestly, you don't have to share your food if you don't want to. Go in and order their Fancy Muffin or Shrimp Burger, or their Caesar Salad with Fried Chicken for yourself. Nobody's gonna judge..well except me but nobody cares about that.

Related Posts:
Lettuce Sundays

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