Chambar Belgian Restaurant (1 of 10)

My Dine Out Vancouver 2012 adventures continued at Chambar, a restaurant that was founded on Belgian cuisine, but has since looked to expand its scope into just being a great restaurant. Even so, the Belgian roots remain quite clear in this Gastown area eatery, complete with a huge selection of Belgian beers. For this go around, I opted for a strong golden ale called La Chouffe. Its “pleasantly fruity” and “light hops” flavor profile belies its higher than normal 8.0% alcohol content.

This was my third time at Chambar–I had been here before both for Dine Out and for the regular menu–so I already had a pretty good idea of what to expect. I’ve never been disappointed with the food, the atmosphere, or the service at Chambar, so I was hoping that this visit wouldn’t be the exception.

Even though he was originally hired as the sommelier, Robert Stelmachuk is also the “front of house leader” at Chambar. He took on the role of manager/server with our table and he couldn’t be more delightful, always checking in to make sure that everything was to our satisfaction. Noting the couple of cameras we had at the table, he also took extra care to get the food “photo-ready” for us, knowing full well that the pictures would “end up on your Facebook or blog or wherever else.” His good humour and attentiveness certainly added to the appeal of the meal… but what about the meal itself?

The Dine Out menu at Chambar used to be $25, but the 2012 selection came in at $38 per person for three courses.

Chambar Belgian Restaurant (4 of 10)

Carpaccio de Chevreuil: Charred venison carpaccio, garlic chips, radishes, white soy & red wine reduction, soba noodle salad

This was my appetizer and it was certainly larger than I expected. There were easily a dozen slices of venison there, each with just the right amount of seasoning. The garlic chips were great too, but I found the soba noodles to be on the mushy side.

Chambar Belgian Restaurant (3 of 10)

Betterave & Fenouil: Roasted baby beets, orange braised fennel, pomegranate, whipped sheeps feta

Chambar Belgian Restaurant (2 of 10)

Soupe d’hiver: Roasted celeriac & morel soup, shaved apple, lingonberries, watercress

Shown above are the other two appetizer options. I didn’t sample the beets, but I did have a couple spoonfuls of the soup. The sourness of the lingonberries offered a stark contrast to the otherwise earthy taste of the soup. This was different and I think in a good way.

Chambar Belgian Restaurant (8 of 10)

Carbonade Flamande: Chambar Ale braised shortrib, sultanas, sage butter barley risotto

This was my main dish and it was deceptively filling. The shortrib was very tender and flavorful. The risotto was a little on the “crunchy” side, but I didn’t mind it all that much. I was later told by Robert that this was a simpler, smaller version of the braised lamb tajine from the regular menu, which I have tried in the past. I’d say the tajine was definitely better, but understandably a lot more work for the kitchen.

Chambar Belgian Restaurant (6 of 10)

L’omle de l’Artique Niçois: Crispy Arctic char, sea asparagus, pea shoots, bacalao, lemon & grana padano concasse, tapanades

Even though the little dollops on the plate don’t look all that pleasant, they added some interesting flavors to this dish. The char was cooked beautifully with a nice crispness to the skin.

Chambar Belgian Restaurant (5 of 10)

Moules-Frites Congolaise: Mussels, tomato coconut cream, smoked chili, lime, cilantro

No visit to Chambar would be complete without getting their amazing pot of mussels. Pictures really don’t do it justice, especially since we don’t have smell-o-vision. Served with a side of fries (which are also very good), this is a menu item that should not be missed.

A white wine-based option, called the Moules-Frites Coquotte, is also available. It is served with cream, smoked bacon lardons, and spring onions.

Chambar Belgian Restaurant (7 of 10)

Le Fromage: Selection of 2 local cheeses, sultana bread, fruit compote

This dessert option really didn’t feel like a “dessert” to me. That said, I’ve always been a fan of cheese. The shame is that there wasn’t really enough bread to go with the cheese and compote.

Chambar Belgian Restaurant (9 of 10)

Le Fruit: Lemon curd, toasted meringue, thyme scented shortbread

Based on the description, I was expecting a lemon meringue pie without the pie crust. What I got instead was a variation on a pavlova. There was a slight chewiness to the exterior and, with lemon curd in the center, this dish offered a nice way to cap out a great meal.

Chambar lived up to its expectations and easily earns my recommendation. Be sure to check out my other Dine Out Vancouver posts from this year, including Fleuri and Black+Blue. I have one more DOV post coming, but don’t be afraid to dive into my “Food and Drink” archive for more good eating.

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