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Photos by Kevin Van Paassen for The Globe and Mail. Read Chris Nuttall-Smith's full review of Chabrol here.
Doug Penfold, an undersung and immensely talented chef who was on the opening kitchen teams at Canoe and Pastis, worked at Avalon and had his first taste of restaurant ownership with Cava, had always wanted to own a place inspired by the foods of Southern France.
There is no gas line and no stove. The partners installed a commercial oven, a portable sous vide machine for reheating meats and a pair of induction burners for little bits of cooking. The tables are tight. (Is that your foot?) If you need to find the restrooms, they’re out the dining room’s side door, through a neighbouring dress shop and down a flight of stairs.
Alone in the little bistro’s closet-sized open kitchen, Doug Penfold was cooking a Thursday-night dinner rush all on his own. The room was packed, the Burgundy flowing. He was firing out first-rate Puy lentil salads and tartines of rabbit, shimmering chestnut soups and ballotines of chicken that came on plates of deep-green watercress sauce – somehow he was even keeping up with it all. But then another order for the tarte aux pommes would come in. You’d see him pause. And then the whisking. It felt like a daredevil juggling act, and the juggler’s assistant wouldn’t stop tossing in knives.