Chambar is a stylish and hip restaurant downtown that offers Belgian cuisine in a fun and lively atmosphere.
Tucked in at the beginning of Beatty, this long-ish space is a great spot to enjoy some fine wine and delicious food. We made reservations well in advance, but for a Monday night the place wasn't terribly busy. We had cocktails and a great bottle of wine with our veal and steak dishes, both of which were cooked to perfection. Service was average given the number of diners, and we found the room a little on the loud side - often had shout to each other to keep the conversation going. Overall a great restaurant, great food.
If you like your food to have a bit of kick, and aren't allergic to paprika, the food here will probably be to your liking. There's no indication on the menu that most of these dishes are served with spicy components, so if you have to go here because of a group you're with and this isn't your thing, you'll have to ask a lot of questions which may make for too much work for the staff and too much embarrassment for you...
There's paprika in the butter for the bread (lovely moist bread), paprika seasoning on the fries (golden and yummy) some kind of chili kick in the vinaigrette over the scallops appetizer (3 scallops served). The veal is marinated in paprika or cayenne pepper, the duck was commented upon as being spicy, and the steak, well, online it said it was served with bearnaise sauce, which I adore, but I guess there was a menu change that went unnoticed by me, because it is actually served with a generous splash of what looks , smells and tastes like a chili powder laden BBQ sauce, but I was told was "actually a peppercorn horseradish sauce".
The steak wasn't as tender as I expected and had that char-grilled flavour, which may or may not be your thing. Finally, with the "cafe cafe" desert, the largest component by far is the cheesecake, the other bits including the sugar crusted, not "dusted", cake donut/beignet are tiny.
Everyone else at the table who like cinnamon flavored meats (ie duck/lamb) and hadn't a problem with spicy seemed happy enough, but it was very difficult to hear anyone who wasn't sitting immediately next to you and yelling at you, which is why I rated the ambiance as "poor"; I like to be able to talk to the people I'm out with and hear their reply, and our waiters had to bend with their ears right next to our mouths to discuss dishes and orders etc, which made me even more reluctant to have an interaction over menu choices.
Service seemed capable and friendly, although my waiter's efforts to protect me from the spicy food I asked to avoid were ultimately unsuccessful and I had to send my entree back and give up which seemed to make him avoid me for the rest of the evening. Since food experience is very much a matter of personal taste, I can see why this buzzing, busy, noisy, spicy place is popular, but I do not see why it is so highly reviewed as the second best place to eat in Vancouver; I won't go back.
I first visited Chambar when I was looking for dessert and was refered to the place. Turns out, dessert isn't really their specialty - neither me nor my date enjoyed it. Service was non-existential, so I can't really rate it.
Second time I visited, was because my other friends thought their menu was appealing. I decided to give it another go, since people seem to really like the place. I had the Carpaccio and it seemed a bit saltier than other places (like at Chartwell, now known as Yew). Granted, Carpaccio is supposed to be salty, it was just a little too much. For my main course I had the tenderloin, and it wasn't very tender, and also a bit too salty.
Our server was very friendly, but the hostess needed a bit of work. You would think the first face you see would be a friendly one, but no.
I came here once with a few friends and am sooo pleased with it. We came here for dine out Vancouver, and the food was better than expected. Although at the end of the meal none of us are full due to the small amount, but the foods are absolutely speechless. I have never tried German foods before in my life, and to be honest, after this experience, i absolutely fell in love with german foods. The soup to start with tasted a little wierd at first, but eventually turns into a flavoraful delight after a few more sips. The ambiance? it was great. Even thought the table that we have to sit in was a little small for 5 people, but everything turned out fine as the dished came one by one. The desert was the BEST part. The waffles that we had were amazing, the plating was soo pretty too. I am so satisfied with the experience and definitely will come back again when i can.
Went here for dine out back in January...
Absolutely TERRIBLE experience, had resos at 9:00pm on a Sunday night. Arrived 8:45pm, but wasn't seated until 9:30pm.
When we arrived, the Maitredee said that the people were just about to leave, that was at 8:40pm. By 9pm when we still were not seated, we asked her why it was not ready and she said they were setting up the table. Ok, so we waited....until at 9:25pm, we asked her again, then she said it's just about ready..
At 9:30pm, she FINALLY takes us to our table....when we arrive at our table, the cutlery and napkins are not even set!
The maitre d’ then takes us away from the table and says we should wait for the table to be set, she doesn't take us to back to the waiting area; instead she guides us to stand in front of the open kitchen hole in the middle of the restaurant. There we are, the five of us plus the maitre d’ waiting in the middle of the restaurant watching 2 couples eat. Completely awkward and in the way of traffic, we wait for 5 minutes for our table to be set.
Fortunately, that was the worse of the dining experience. The server was nice, the food was OK, nothing that spectacular...
Overall, absolutely worst service, I don't understand why people rate Chambar with high ratings. The food was not impressive....
Overrated and do not recommend to anyone!
One of my WORST dining experiences!
First time here, Sunday night 6pm, no reservations, just the two of us. Let me start by saying I almost always make a reservation, but this being early on a Sunday I didn't think it was going to be a problem and the place was not busy. Well, it wasn't really a problem, but not having a reservation relegated us to sitting at the front of the restaurant in the "cheap" seats. The red leather seats facing the window is close to a foot lower than the seat opposite it and makes it hard to reach the table. This made for an uncomfortable start to the evening, as I had to employ a nearby pillow to be level with my date and we're both average height. The same problem appeared at all surrounding tables. Now settled in, however lumpily, it was on to cocktails, which were inventive, refreshing and suited to most of the food options. The Foie gras terrine was simply outstanding, one of the best dishes I've ever had, highlighted by it's rich, fat, smokiness, countered by a lovely Kriek granita (ice crystals from cherry beer!) and preserved cherries served with eggie, squares of off the chart, Truffled brioche french toast. This was all so good we didn't think we could go on to the entree, but we did and it was almost as good. The Braised lamb shank showed a Moroccan influence with strong flavours of honey, fig, cinnamon and a little too much salt. The meat was very tender while the cous cous and zalouk provided nice textual balance. Dessert, yes we fit it in, a Green Tea ice cream that was sooo smooth, light and not too sweet. Service was personable, attentive and knowledgable. We will be back, with (no) reservations.
Have been to dine out event for the last few years. I have to say this is the best I have been to so far. With a $25 price range, it definitely beat other restaurants with $35 menu. Definitely worth coming back after Dineout.
Tried the roasted corn & crab soup and vension carpaccio for appertizer. The soup has good favor but lack the real crab. The vension is nicely seasoned with horseraddish. Maintain the texture of meat and the sauce enhance the favor of it.
Had the mussel and beef for entree. The mussel is a must try. There must be at least 25 mussel in that pot. All of them are fat and juicy. Soaked up the tomato coconut soup and you just can't resist it. Full of favour in it. The beef was nicely done as well.
Both the begian waffle and pot de creme are very good. The warm of the waffle provide a great contrast with the ice cream. The pot de creme is very creamy.
Can't really comment on the service as the restaurant is very busy. It's quite tentative given the circumstances.
The ambiance is very rustic. The old wood decor just give the room a very cozy feeling. The limited light fixure make it a very romantic setting.
Went to Chambar the first time with some Chef friends who always seem to know the place to get fresh and innovative food in Vancouver. You will be dreaming of the moules frites for weeks to come. I ordered the flatiron steak as well, but if you're a smaller girl like me, you could have the mussels as a main course, it is quite a large portion, and I couldn't finish my main. Quite a shame because my friend's pot de creme was very nice as well, I would have ordered one if I had the room. The server was good, and unassuming. He was not overbearing, but he was there when needed. Only small comment I cold make would be that the wine by the glass was short poured for some of the glasses, easily solved by ordering a bottle, which I felt was a better value.
It was a great experience overall, and I hope to go back soon.
We decided to go to Chambar for our anniversary. We had read mainly good reviews of it here at this website, as well as in magazines and newspapers. So we had high hopes for both the food and ambiance.
We will not return!! The thing that really spoiled the evening was the ventilation system, which blasted a cold breeze on us the whole night. Imagine going out for a fine dining experience, and wearing your coat all night, and being desperate at the end for the waiter to bring the bill so you could just hurry up and leave and get warm outside in the rainy Vancouver night? My husband kept pointing out how the candles on all the tables (the flames) were horizontal, it was so breezy. The waiter admitted it was cool, and raised the temperature for us, but it didn't help much.
The other issue was the food, which was good, but not superb. For $200, we would prefer a more pleasant (not freezing and uncomfortable!!) ambiance, and superb food. We will not return!
It was my first time to Chambar and it wasn't the best I've ever experienced but I'd definitely go back one day. Our server was very friendly and for the most part, very attentive, except for when the bill came. My credit card was waiting to be taken for the longest time...but besides that...
The alcohol is expensive. $10.50 for a glass of rose wine. Most glasses of wine were in the $9-$11 range.
My entree was the salmon and for $24 I was expecting more. Sure it was good, but I will not go back to have the salmon again. (I'd go to the Boathouse for that). The fettucine that accompanied it was a good amount. All the flavours were good however.
My date had the mussels. They weren't to die for but were solid. Tasty. Clean. Good size.
We had the belgian waffles as dessert. Although it was good, it was pricey considering the size of the waffle. The blueberry sauce was good but they could have added more ice cream!
So all in all, I'd go back, but this wouldn't be my first choice due to the price.
Having traveled to Belgium and loved the food there it was fun to try out Chambar. Nice ambiance, great Belgian beers, and the plates we enjoyed were as close to Belgian cusine as I will get this year. The place had a nice buzz to it with a good crowd and fun atmosphere. I especially enjoyed my asparagus appy which was a play on an old classic I remember having in Brussels. Well done. I will be back as soon as I need another Hogarten off the Tap.
After an earful about the amazing food, and the see and be seen crowd, I've been twice now with mixed results. The room is very hip, but the service lacked a little, and the food was really great the first time, and fair/poor the second. Inconsistant, but good.
I'd been waiting a while to check this place out and the wait was well worth it.
From the moment our party of four walked through the door we were made to feel welcome by virtually every server we passed while being shown to our table.
Our appetizers arrived no less than 10 minutes after ordering them. I had the 'Congolaise' mussel dish and it was superb.
Our server enthusiastically described the various Belgian beers this restaurant specializes in and what beer worked best with each dish.
The entrees were cooked to perfection and expedited quickly despite the restaurant being busy. I recommend the lamb tagine and the venison dishes highly. Portions were perfect in the sense that after an appetizer and an entree we were all very full.
'Full' meaning no room for dessert which none of us had any intention of ordering but due to our waiter overhearing we were there for a birthday celebration (we did not advertise this fact), the kitchen sent over TWO complimentary dessert platters.
So for all the negative reviews I've read on this board about Chambar, I don't know what these people expect when dining out because this was definitely an experience worth ranting about. And I don't rant easily.
5 stars in every category and well deserved at that.
I know that Chambar occasionally gets hammered on online reviews for its service. I paid my first visit last night, the last evening of Dine Out 2007.
Despite arriving 15 minutes before our reservation the two of us were seated immediately and made to feel welcome. First surprise.
As my dining companion is pregnant and I rarely drink neither of us ordered alcohol. I had expected a bad attitude in return but we were blessed with a very lovely server, I believe his name was Ben. There was no attitude whatsoever.
The timing between courses and the plating was splendid. For an appetizer my companion ordered the butternut squash and apple soup with creme fraiche, wonderfully light. Just one spoonful for me and I was longing for more.
For the main course we ordered the Truitte aux almondes. Beautiful and for me the first few bites were highly flavourful and really quite exceptional. Though this feeling did not last throughout the process of eating the whole piece of fish it was a very nice dish. Although I am never satisfied with portions my dining companion was more than satisfied as she slid half of her fish over to me.
At this point, while awaiting the arrival of dessert I felt a slight high that I might normally associate with mild drunkeness and this sensation only confirmed that I was enjoying a good meal.
The finale was a bit of an event for me as I had not eaten a sugary dessert for 15 years. We had both orderd the Belgian waffle with vanilla-bean ice cream. Let me say right off that the presentation was absolutely gorgeous. Hestitantly but with no small amount of anticipation I started with the waffle and it was fantastic. I savoured the waffle, the ice cream, the chocolate and the other small elements and fell into a quiet reverie which concerned my companion. There was no need for her concern.
Our server at several times during our meal showed a warmth that surprised me and which really topped off the evening for me.
chambar was really difficult to book during the dine out period. Also, it is difficult to find since it's not really noticeable unless you know the address exactly.
I had the mussels, and it was incredible, best mussles i've had so far!!
my friend had the trout, and it was juicy and cooked perfectly.
desserts were awesome too, i had the belgian waffer and it was just great~
Ambience is not fine dining really, the tables are rather small, and u can over-hear all the conversations nearby...the lounge is actually more quiet.
Chambar is definitely a place for food.
A great night out, could only get a 5:00pm sitting for Dine out 07, but we were treated great as soon as we walked in the door. In no way were we rushed thru our dinner, we had drinks before ordering and good conversation with our friends. The food was very good, the squash soup was delicious, creamy, yet very light. The Braised beef ribs were hearty and fall apart tender, but I wished I had gone for the mussels. Only down side is that I can see it getting very noisy in there, making for private conversations pretty difficult. All and All it lived up to the hype.
As always, good service, but this time it was a little off, took a rather long time for the waiter to notice that our table watned to order our food. Usually a big Hoegaarden fan, but this time decided to venture and try Leffe, sweet and crisp.
Started with the phyllo wrapped duck confit, went down wonderfully with the sauce and cranberry dressing. The mussels congalaise was amazing as usual (it's the best dish there I'd say), the flavours blend together to create an intoxicating experience. The poutine was exceptional with the use of blue cheese, gastronomical! Had the lamb shank as my main, but found it rather, big and although the texture of the meat was good, it tasted like...meat?! The spices and sauces outplayed the shank itself, hence resulted in an unbalance of flavours. I personally really enjoy the side dish, the sweet&tartness of cranberries and apricots in the couscous makes it a perfect pairing for the shank.
sadly, i couldn't get reservations and upon trying to find somewhere else to go that evening for dinner we decided to go and try our luck regardless -- luckily, there was a small table that was open just off the lounge, unfortunatly though, it was right across from the kitchen
first thing to know is this place is loud. you really do need to yell to hear anyone as the music is up and so are the voices, and during our experience being across from the kitchen didn't help much either.
to start we ordered some muscles -- they were pretty damn good. i dug them and the belgian fries were great as well.
as for our meals my two friends ordered the venison and they were very impressed. i ordered the lamb shank which was delicious and a much larger serving, however, the size was happened to be its draw back. it was just so rich, which i should have known it would be from the menu. it had honey and cinnamon and was garnished throughout with figs, but regardless, still very good.
for desert i had the chocolate cigars, which were great, but not that inventive. if i was to go back i'd pick something a little more nifty.
i love the look of the place, it really is a lovely looking restraunt and i would definitly go back. my meal cost about 75 dollars and that was for 1/2 muscles (split with friend) the lamb shank, a beer, and a cocktail, as well as desert. not bad for fine dining
Chambar is one of my favorite places to dine. It is a bustling and energetic restaurant with phenomenal food. The menu is more than reasonably-priced, and the service is consistently strong. I have had several meals there in the past - everything from intimate dinners, to large parties of twelve... and any time someone is visiting from out of town, it is the first place that I think to take them.
I went with 3 other friends to Chambar on a Friday night, quite excited and dressed up. We had heard so many good things about the food and the place itself. I had called ahead a few days earlier to make a reservation.
My expectations were so disappointed and the service was nothing more than offensive. To start, they 'lost' our reservation. Perhaps that's what they call preferential treatment. 4 females with good money to spend, probably seen as samplers with no men to pay for them. As a result, we had to wait in the 'lounge' with a cool draft by the door for an hour and a half until we were seated at a slightly larger table in the lounge. We were promised complimentary champagne twice but it was never delivered.
All four of us ordered full-course meals including a cocktail, appetizers, entree and dessert. We ate at a cocktail table that barely fit our plates. I can't complain about the quality of the food, it was up to par and above. But the feeling of spending $50 each for a cold, disappointing experience was not a nice taste in the mouth.
If you're not a 'somebody' don't expect service at Chambar.