My friend and I have wanted to go to Chambar for a long time. In fact, one of her co-workers tease us that we always say we're going to go, but still haven't managed to for the last 1.5 years. Finally, with the hubby and son not with me, we were off to Beatty St to try the much touted Chambar.
We did not have reservations, as the on-line "Opentable" reservations option was not working for me the day before. We were told that if we try to get there when it opens for 6pm, we still should be able to get in. That Saturday, we forgot that there was a concert at GM Place so it was a bit busy downtown, and the parking lots had "event parking" prices. So we had to drive around a bit before we found parking. By the time we got to Chambar, it was closer to 7pm and it was quite busy. Because it was just 2 of us though, there were seating options still available by the bar or "kitchen seating" ,where they had these tall bar stools and tables right in front of the chef area, so we could see all the action going on. We chose the latter.
As I've already mentioned in some previous reviews, sometimes having your eggo being preggo limits your cuisine choices, Chambar was no exception, but I was mainly super excited for the mussels and frites anyways. Our server was kind enough to mention all the things that I should be aware of, such as the raw egg in the aioli for the fries, and the unpasteurized cheeses and other foods that I wouldn't be able to touch when I pointed to the big belly. So we settled for the "Les tomatoes artisanales" appy--Artisan tomatoes, spiced honey vinaigrette, arugula almond pesto & feta spring rolls to start, and the Congolaise Mussels and frites-- cooked with a tomato coconut cream and smoked chili and lime sauce with fresh cilantro. We got our mussels with a side of the bread to dip into the sauce.
Before we started to eat, I already asked for the dessert menu, as I thought we would have more than enough room to share a dessert. Much to my chagrin, my eyes were bigger than my stomach. The appy was quite good, although for me the star was the not springrolls themselves, but the sweet and fresh tomatoes that came in the salad-yummo.
The serving of mussels was huge, a big steaming pot full of them in a savoury broth. It wasn't too spicy, which was fine by me, and the flavours all went together beautifully. With the bread to dip into our sauce, I was a happy camper to plug away at the pot. My girl friend was too nice to me, she kept spooning the mussels into my bowl first, not realizing that she was giving me the largest mussels, and she was saying that the mussels were good but she noticed that they were too small. So I had thought that the Blue Fig Martini was not only making her face the horrible red that Asians get drinking, but also making her vision slightly off, not realizing that she was just giving me the biggest ones :) It wasn't until I stopped munching and she got to finish the pot that she realized that there were some much bigger suckers in the pot! We had originally asked for our frites to be "poutined", but our server kindly pointed out that the poutine had blue cheese, which baby and I couldn't eat. So we had the normal frites, and to my chagrin and most likely the server's, I wanted ketchup for "dip" since I couldn't eat the aoili, and instead of telling me what an epicurean faux pas I was making, the server just whispered that they didn't have ketchup, and that I would find dipping my frites into the mussel sauce would probably give me that "zing" I was looking for.
All in all, good food with good service. You get what you pay for, we enjoyed ourselves, and my half of the bill as I didn't have any alcohol, including tax and tip-- came to $23. My friend's was higher because of the martini, which she said was exceptional. So for $23, I could handle going back there again, maybe after baby is born so that we can try the duck and beef tartare.