Chambar is a Belgium fusion restaurant that also has influences from African cuisine. The restaurant claims to be “unpretentious fine dining” and I think they nailed that theme. The restaurant is located on Beatty Street on the edges of downtown and Gastown.
Chambar has been one of the most popular restaurants in the city for many years, but I have never had a chance to go. My chance finally came when my parents said they would take me out for a nice dinner to celebration my university graduation. Gotta save up the expensive places for when your parents are paying, amiright? 😉
We arrived a bit early so we ordered some drinks at the bar. They have an extensive Belgian beer menu that is a bit overwhelming. I settled on the La Chouffe, which was under the strong golden ale section. According to their menu, strong golden ales are light in body and have a higher alcoholic strength than some of the other beers.
I loved the La Chouffe ($8.50). This beer was indeed easy to drink and it had fruity notes, which gave it a hint of sweetness. The fruity flavours were balanced by a light hops flavour. The menu description also said there were coriander notes, which gave it a unique flavour that I really enjoyed.
For an appetizer to share, we ordered les mantis d’agneau ($14), which are little Turkish lamb dumplings. These are similar to a wonton or an Asian dumpling.
These little dumplings were very juicy and had a nice meaty flavour from the lamb. They were drizzled with tahini yogurt, spicy red pepper and lemon butter, and topped with cucumber and radish. The tahini yogurt was really good and provided a rich, creamy element to the dish.
My Mom had the salade aigre-douce ($12). It was beautifully presented and looked very fresh. It was made with Belgian endive, golden beets, grapefruit, lingonberries, picked greens, burnt bread, and a buttermilk honey and citrus vinaigrette.
My Mom enjoyed the salad, but I didn’t try it because I didn’t want to waste stomach space on vegetables.
She also had a side of poutine à la belge. The poutine was really good and pretty large for a side. It was rich and creamy and the addition of peppercorns elevated the dish to something beyond regular poutine.
The item that Chambar is most known for is moules frites. Their fries were really good. They were crispy and dusted with a light sprinkle of paprika. They were also served with a side of mayo sauce, which is a great dip.
My Dad had the coquotte mussels that were in a white wine cream sauce with smoked bacon lardons and spring onions.
This broth was really good if you like creamy classic flavours. You can’t really ever go wrong with white wine and cream. The bacon added a smokey flavour and fatty delicious texture.
I had the congolaise mussels that were served in a tomato coconut cream with smoked chili, lime, and cilantro.
This is a much more exotic take on mussels and this one was my favourite. Anything with coconut, chili, and cilantro has my name all over it.
This broth wasn’t as creamy and rich as the other one, but it was still full of flavour. There were tons of different spices that came through and you got hints of freshness from the cilantro.
The mussels were fresh and good quality. They were nice and meaty and soaked up all the yummy sauce. There are also TONS of them in the pot. I always find it hard to fill up on seafood dishes, since the portions are pretty small, but I felt like this was a never-ending bucket of mussels.
We also ordered a side of bread and smoked paprika butter to soak up all the extra mussel sauce. The paprika butter is really good. I always like it when restaurants use different flavoured butters. The bread was good, but it is really just a sauce and butter facilitator.
For dessert we all shared the chefs selection of desserts. They listed off the desserts so fast that I don’t exactly remember all the details about them.
On the far left was a sorbet. It was really flavourful and refreshing and the perfect palate cleanser.
Next up was a chocolate mousse cake. This wasn’t anything overly fancy, but it was good and very chocolately.
I forget what the next dessert was called, but it was my favourite. It was on this crispy, light, crumbly cake and topped with a tropical fruit salsa. I liked all of the different textures and I am always a sucker for tropical flavoured desserts.
The last dessert was a coffee panna cotta. I normally like coffee flavoured things and I pretty much like all desserts, but none of us liked this one. The coffee flavour was really bitter and a bit sour tasting. The texture of this dish was also very boring. It was just like jello. I was disappointed by this and I wouldn’t recommend getting it.
They also gave us little after dinner candies. Two of them were passionfruit jellies and the other two were chocolates. The passionfruit jellies were so good, I wish I could eat a bag full of them.
Outside of the last dessert that sucked, everything else we had was delicious. I’m glad that I finally got to try Chambar and I can safely say their mussels lived up to the hype. I think this is a good place to come with a group of people and just order a bunch of mussels and special beer.
Yes, for great mussels and beer.