Harry Hodge/Metro Toronto
Chutney’s Fine Indian Cuisine
Address: 3077 Bloor St. W.
Hours: Every day, 11:30a.m. - 2 p.m., and 4 p.m. - 10 p.m.
Dinner: for 2 w/tax & tip $75
**** (out of five)
Away from the raucous din of Yorkville and the patios on Queen Street, Chutney’s has been making a name for itself as a staple of fine dining on Bloor West, a stone’s throw from Royal York.
Run efficiently by the father-son team of Pyarelal and Kunaal Gour, Chutney’s offers signature dishes from northern India with special care paid to the healthier tastes of its affluent west-end clientèle.
“People are coming back all the time,” Kunaal says of Chutney’s loyal customers, quick to add that word-of-mouth and referrals have helped build a following that is expanding beyond the neighbourhood more and more.
The surroundings are elegant but simple, white tablecloths nestled between paintings and and an old phonograph. But the dishes leave room for the adventurous, with eight different levels of spice to choose from, ranging between mild and super-spicy.
“People are always open to new ideas,” says Kunaal, adding that meals can be tailored to the individual diner’s need for spice. Tandoori chicken salad, with tender, juicy morsels of chicken in a flavourful but not overpowering sauce, whets the appetite. Next comes sizzling samudri toofan, with shrimp baked to such a fine red they look like finely sliced tomatoes, along with kastoori paneer tikka — cottage cheese barbecued with greenish hue owing to the fenugreek herbs in its preparation — and chicken badami tikka. Again, having told my hosts my interest in spice is somewhere around medium, all is very palatable and not overpowering.
New to the menu is a blueberry lassi, just right in terms of yogurt and fresh berries to offer respite from the heat. Lassi can be enjoyed at the end of the meal or during the proceedings. The staff say this sweet delight is only available at Chutney’s.
The highlight comes with Chutney’s signature chicken kama sutra (I know what you’re thinking, you naughty reader). Adapted from a centuries-old recipe, chef Robinder Singh has adapted the recipe once served to Indian emperors with a chicken breast stuffed with almonds, cashew nuts and mild cottage cheese, simmered in a gravy of cashew milk, yogurt, onions and herbs. The lamb bhuna also managed to capture the flavour of the tomatoes and onions without allowing spice to overpower.
“I prefer to give people something different,” explains Singh, whose last assignment was at the Yellow Chili in Ludhiana, India. Singh also says with no small amount of pride his ingredients are 100 per cent fresh — “No frozen stuff.”
Well, except for dessert, if you have room. Kulfi ice cream hits the spot, rich with saffron and pistachio flavour. Chutney’s may have the Yorkville crowd looking west before you know it.
Reservations are recommended Friday and Saturday nights, and during the Taste of the Kingsway, which runs Sept. 8-9.