I was at Chambar for Dine Out in 2012 with a group of girls. The most memorable part of the dinner was the house made pretzel ice cream! C at that time was doing his Masters degree in England and I was determined to come back here one day with C! It has a romantic and hip ambiance with a nice bar. It would make a great date!
Fast forward to 2014, we chose Chambar as our only (C: our only one-on-one that is!) dine out experience. It was harder to find parking at night so we paid to park at Easy Park across the street. We got there 30 min before our reservation thinking we might be able to sit at the bar to enjoy while waiting for our table. To our surprise, the hostess said our table is ready and we could be seated immediately. That was very nice and she took out coats to be hang so it doesn’t get in our way. After we were seated, our waitress came by and the first thing she said was the dining experience is restricted to 1.5 hr and later we see they do follow this rule quite strictly as it was applied to the table next to us.
The menu can be seen on the Dine Out Website but as usual there are more items on the menu at the restaurant. If you are willing to pay extra, you can opt for the more expensive dishes for appetizer and/or entree. (C: Surprisingly though, they only did Dine Out. There were a couple of tables that seemed interested in their regular menu and was somewhat disappointed to find out that they only served a Dine Out menu during this period).
C is starting to get into wine so he opted to try the recommended red wine ($12 for 5oz) to start. It is a pinot noir from La Frenz “Amos Vineyard” 201 of Naramata Bench, BC.
I didn’t want anything alcoholic and one of their hand crafted drinks caught my eye The Elderflower Fizz ($5) consists of passion fruit juice, elderflower, lemon juice and soda. It was very tasty and freshing! Too bad it had so much ice and as the ice melt, the drink was quite watered down. (C: The wine was quite vibrant and lively, a nice red to start the evening! I quite like the reds that are lighter in body. The Elderflower Fizz was quite refreshing too!)
C picked the Foie gros for extra $8 and I picked the Gambas et chorizo.
C loved his Foie de Canard “villa lorraine”. It is a spiced foie gras terrine, port reduction, kriek granita, truffled brioche french toast. It came with tomato icey and cripsy, toasted brioche. The tomato icey was sooo refreshing! It reminds me of shaved ice with a tomato taste to it. The brioche was so soft on the inside and crispy. I wish I could’ve just stolen the bread. C liked the foei gros because it was soo rich and creamy. He found the taste to be more mild of the Piere-a-Terre foie gros that he tried. To me….it is just gamey and I stayed away from it.
(C: I really like the Foie Gras here. I’ve had foie gras a few times now, and each place does it quite differently. I found Chambar’s foie gras the most aligned to my tastes – mild, fatty, and still retaining that underlying duck flavour. A few of the other foie gras I’ve had were really overpowering in the gamey taste. Still something I need to work on tasting more often!)
Cambas et chorizo is olive oil poached prawns, grilled chorizo, escabeche vegetables, avocado & Peruvian peppers. The presentation of it is so nice! It is like a pond with different vegetation on it. I am not a fan of seafood but I will eat it. The prawns were blanched and it grossed me out to find one of them did not have the vein/intestine removed. Everything else was much more enjoyable, I particularly enjoyed the peruvian peppers as they were so sweet and refreshing with the avocado mousse paired with the spicy chroizo.
As mains, we had Canard aux marrons and Moules frites ‘Vin Blanc’.
The dish C picked is spice rubbed duck breast, wild berry compote, chestnut hummus, Brussels sprouts & pistachios. The duck breast was moist and juicy. It has a strong taste of the Chinese 5 spice and it did not wow me.
(C: I’m a pretty big fan of duck, so no surprise that I opted for a duck entree! Initially I was taken aback by the portion size, but digging into it I was actually quite stuffed. As Q mentioned, it has a 5 spice flavour to it – I thought it was actually quite good and the overall dish seemed to have an Asian flare to it. The duck breast was tender and delicious! I wish there were more Brussels sprouts though).
I went for the safe choice and got the white wine mussels. I felt like the fries and the aioli sauce stole the show from the mussels! The truffle oil fries were the starchy one that’s not extremely crispy. The salt and the aioli made it so addictive! They were a delight on their own. Ok…back to the mussels! The restaurant did not cut down the portion size because it is Dine Out. I could not finish all the big, juicy mussels and C gladly finished it for me. (C: So good! I wish they had bread to go along with it, because the white wine sauce was delicious!) The Vin Blanc was good as you can taste the the richness of the butter added and the white wine used to make the sauce. I wish there was actual bread to dip into the sauce. The fries were served for that purpose but you try dipping fries! It get quite messy and cumbersome to eat like that.
For once I did not get something sweet to finish my meal! I opted for the cheese plate while C got the Chocolate Brule!
Chocolate Brule is chocolate espresso torte, apricot puree, pecan brittle, caramelized apple, lemon ice-cream. (C: The dessert was probably the weakest dish imo. The icecream was kinda melted when it arrived and it was really plain. The chocolate torte was good, but didn’t really wow me in any way).
My cheese plate had 3 year old white cheddar, beddis blue and triple cream brie with hazelnut fruit bread, tomato jam & balsamic reduction. My favourite is the triple cream brie with the balsamic reduction. The sweetness of the sauce and the creaminess of the cheese all on the crispy thin bread crisp was heavenly. That made me felt I have made the right choice in not picking a sweet dessert like C’s! The beddis blue is a very mild blue cheese. The sweetness of the tomato jam cuts into the saltiness of the cheese. The 3 yr white cheddar wasn’t exactly white to me…it still seem like orange! Nevertheless, tasty with the whole hazelnut. It would’ve been even better if more bread crisp were served. I ran out quite quickly which was a pity. (C: As usual, Q was stuffed and I had to help her finish off the cheese plate too!)
Service overall felt rushed. As mentioned before, the restaurant has a 1.5 hr limitation to the dining experience and they meant it! The table next to us was of 2 girls catching up. When their 1.5 hr is up, with their half eaten desserts, the waitress asked politely if they would like to be moved to the bar to finish up their desserts. The waitress was apologetic and polite but man what a damper to the evening I imagine. The restaurant was probably making bookings back to back on the weekends and needed to run at a tight schedule.
Food came at at timely manner and plates were cleared as soon as they were empty. Although the waitress was zooming from table to table, she did make sure everything was alright. Our water was never empty which is a good indication of attentiveness to me. I do appreciate our coats were taken at the door. I like that as it minimize that awkwardness for having a thick winter jacket behind your back in a tight environment.
Again, take it with a grain of salt, service during dine out does not reflect truly of how the service is normally. No complain about the service beside the 1.5hr time limitation.