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Chambar


plunk
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My husband and I and two friends had a great DOV meal at Chambar last night. I hadn't been there for dinner before but did go for lunch a few months back.

Between the four of us, we tried:

Salade Folle (Belgium endive, watercress, pear, caramelized pecans & blue cheese with honey glazed walnuts served with toasted fig bread)

Tourelle de Crevettes et Crabe (Tower of baby prawns, crab, candied ginger & avocado salsa on a bed of shaved fennel with pomegranate)

Butternut squash and apple soup (different from the soup listed on Tourism Vancouver's website)

Tajine d'Aziz a l'Agneau (Braised lamb with honey, figs, cinnamon & cilantro, served with cous cous and zalouk)

Moules Congolaises (Mussels cooked with fresh tomato, smoked chilli and cilantro with a touch of coconut cream and lime)

Gaufre de Liege (Belgian waffle with warm chocolate, raspberry sauce and vanilla ice cream)

The restaurant was very busy and the tables were packed. Looks like they're only offering the DOV menu and not the a la carte as well. Is this typical of DOV restaurants?

My husband had specialty beer (can't remember the name), the rest of us had variations on their specialty cocktail. I wish they had their regular cocktail list available too, but I can understand why they would want to limit the menus during DOV.

For the three appetizers, the soup and seafood tower were really good, the watercress salad was alright. The entrees were a big hit with everyone. I loved my Moules Congolaises and the frites were perfect. Dessert was excellent as well, I could have had another serving.

The service was very good, our waiter did a great job and answered all our questions well. We will definitely go back.

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I'm happy to hear that your experience was positive. It seems that a few of the smaller restaurants that are completely sold out are only offering DOV menus, but the majority of restaurants offer their regular menu, a few with limited selections. It's tough for some restaurants, especially those that are not open for lunch. If you offer your regular menu and the vast majority are ordering from the DOV menu, you will have an awful lot of spoiled food stcok.

Derek

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The logic could then flow thus: price the whole menu as DOV so your non-DOV stock doesn't spoil.

Glad to hear Chambar is doing well and the balloon hasn't popped :raz: .

Anyone seen Josiane, the lady Andre (Lumiere) replaced? I wonder if she has found a new restaurant to bless.

Andrew Morrison

Food Columnist | The Westender

Editor & Publisher | Scout Magazine

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We had a late night seating at Chambar last night. The menu, food and service that we had we're very parallel to plunk's, excellent. We did however also indulge in the on tap Belgian Beers which we're all excellent.

The first was a Bellevue Kreik which was a bit too sweet for my tastes, but all the ladies liked it. It had interesting berry overtones to it. The second was a Leffe which was a very good, smooth flavour without too much bite. Then third, one of my fovorites, Stella. I actually had that one with Dessert. :raz:

Unfortunately we went for the lamb but at the time we arrived, 10:30 ish, they were sold out. The mussles that I had were excellent, especially with bread to sop up the tasty juices.

When the bill came we had all anticipated that this was one of the $35 restaurants but we're pleasently surprised at the $25 pp charges. Excellent value for the meal.

We are looking forward to returning to try their full menu in the near future.

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PaoPao, glad to hear you also had a good meal. (Is your nickname supposed to mean grandmother in Chinese?)

I think my husband also tried Bellevue Kreik last night. I really liked it because it was berry and sweet.

My mussels didn't come with bread (I didn't miss it, was already full), did you ask for it?

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PaoPao, glad to hear you also had a good meal. (Is your nickname supposed to mean grandmother in Chinese?)

I think my husband also tried Bellevue Kreik last night. I really liked it because it was berry and sweet.

My mussels didn't come with bread (I didn't miss it, was already full), did you ask for it?

Haven't heard it mean Grandmother in Chinese before, I thought that was Pho Pho. Actually it means Baby Bear, but I've heard lots of variations ..... I'll stick with mine. :wink:

The bread was extra $$$, don't remember how much though and you had to ask. Normally that really chaps my ass when restaurants do that, but I thought everything else was such a great value so I didn't mind. It was worth getting it though to get those small bits of bacon and onion with the remaining juices .....

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The first was a Bellevue Kreik which was a bit too sweet for my tastes, but all the ladies liked it.  It had interesting berry overtones to it. 

I will occasionally serve this beer with chocolate for desert. Right after a mouthful of chocolate, take a drink of the beer and the cherry flavour in the beer explodes in your mouth.

Always remember that you are unique. Just like everyone else.

www.leecarney.com

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Tired. So very, very tired. I'll endeavour to post some dining notes but can't guarantee any significant measure of coherence.

Recently got home from our 8:00 p.m. DOV reservation at Chambar. Great dinner overall, but found it somewhat exhausting to converse rather loudly with our dining companion in order to be heard over the din of a jam-packed restaurant. The lineup was nearly out the door when we arrived; fortunately, our table was ready and waiting, so we bypassed the standing crowd.

The Tourelle de Crevette et Crabe was my first course: a tower of baby prawns, crab, candied ginger and avocado salsa topped with tobiko and served on a bed of shaved fennel with pomegranate. Delicately flavoured, with little hits of candied ginger scattered throughout and 'pops' of tobiko to surprise the palate. I refused to share. Ian and our dining companion started with the Salade Folle: Belgian endive, watercress, pear, caramelized pecans and blue cheese with walnut dressing accompanied by toasted fig bread. Excellent flavour balance in the salad; well-proportioned amounts of blue cheese and dressing weren't overpowering at all. Beer pairing for the salads were the Hoegaarden and the Chambar Ale; I selected the Grey Monk Pinot Gris.

For our main dishes, Ian and I shared the Lamb Tajine (braised lamb with honey, figs, cinnamon & cilantro, served with cous cous and zalouk) and the Moules-Frites Congolaises (mussels cooked with fresh tomato, smoked chilli and cilantro with a touch of coconut cream and lime). Probably the two strongest flavoured main plates offered for DOV. Ian declared them to be a good duo, whereas I preferred my girlfriend's Moules-Frites Cocottes (mussels cooked with white wine, bacon, vegetables, garlic and a touch of cream) as a milder taste counterpoint for the lamb. Les pommes frites were okay but not stellar in my book... Le Crocodile and Bistro Pastis take top honours for the city's frites IMHO. Of the two beers that Ian ordered with his main course, he enjoyed the Leffe more than the Saison Dupont for its full-bodied, round flavour. Unfortunately, I thought the Township 7 Merlot was a disappointing pairing as it seemed a bit too reedy and tart to stand up to the spicy boldness of our two main dishes.

Peppermint tea was a lovely accompaniment for our Gaufre de Liege (Belgian waffle with warm chocolate, blueberries and vanilla ice cream). Gotta say, plunk's comment about pearl sugar adding a rather delicious crunch was bang on the money as the waffles were delicious. A small portion, to be sure, but anything larger would have been difficult to finish after such an enormous dinner.

Service was as good as it could have been in such a crowded room. According to our hostess, they're averaging 3 turns a night for DOV, 3 1/2 on weekends. :blink:

(On a tangential note, in checking Chambar's website for the specifics on Ian's beer selections, I found their music loop to be remarkably annoying. :angry: But, to each their own.)

Chambar was a fabulous DOV choice. Thumbs up from both of us for a great overall dining experience in a hip, well-appointed room. It'll be nice to go back on a weeknight when it's a little more relaxed so that we can enjoy the atmosphere without having to yell across the table.

Edited by Mooshmouse (log)

Joie Alvaro Kent

"I like rice. Rice is great if you're hungry and want 2,000 of something." ~ Mitch Hedberg

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Hate to be the odd man out, but our experience was not as good as Plunk and Mooshmouse.

18:30 Arrive on time for our reservation. Promptly seated near the drafty front door.

18:40 Waitress first appears. Apologizes for the delay. Says she'll be right back. Don't think it's because she's too busy. There are 3 empty tables within 15 feet of us.

18:42 Waitress comes back to take drink order. Would we like to order our dinners too? Well, not really, but since you're here,and it's DOV and we know you're busy we'll try not to dawdle.

We each order the Tourelle de Crevettes et Crabe

18:48 Tourelles de Crevettes et Crabe arrive. Were we hallucinating, or did we order drinks. Don't they normally come, like, before the food? Let's maybe just wait a minute.

18:50 Waiter brings our drinks. He sees we haven't started our appetizers and must have assumed it was because we weren't properly introduced. Proceeds to tell us every detail of what's on the plate. This is an annoying trend. Tolerable at West where they carry it off with style. Not so endearing here.

Glad we ordered the Tourelles because now we have great inspiration for our next dinner party. Mix a tin of canned shrimp with a tin of crabmeat, sprinkle some pomegranate seeds, voila. Maybe they'd been in the fridge too long, but we were definitely underwhelmed.

18:55 Waitress returns to take our wine order. They have a limited selection of VQA, but a nice cross-section of choices other than the usual suspects. We go for the Blasted Church Pinot Noir.

19:00 Waiter returns with the wine and proceeds to open it and begin to fill our glasses, despite our nearly full drinks. Does he think it needs to breathe? Maybe we're meant to mix the wine with my Hoegaarden beer? He asks if we've tried it before. Nope. Now the usual response to that would be something vacuous like "I think you'll enjoy it. It's a precocious little wine. You'll find it goes well with your dinners, blah, blah,blah." Nothing like that for our man though. His response? "Gotta be a first time for everything."

19:05 Entrees arrive. Tajine d'Aziz a l'Agneau for me and Moules-Frites Cocotte for my wife.

Lamb was very stringy and lukewarm. The cinnamon overwhelmed any other flavour that the poor lamb may have ever had.

The mussels were plump and succulent. Very enjoyable. The frites were top-class. My wife's only complaint was that the broth was extremely salty. It's usually nice to dip some bread into the sauce, but no chance of that here -- no bread for one thing, but also the sauce would have been too salty anyway.

19:15 Waitress delivers 2 glasses of water. Did we suddenly look thirstier than we did 30 minutes ago? Maybe she knows about the over-salting.

19:25 Waitress takes our plates. Still 1/3 bottle of wine. The wine was the best part of the meal, so, knowing we still had 35 minutes on the DOV clock, we thought we could take a few minutes to enjoy it.

19:27 Desserts arrive unannounced. Eggo waffles with Lucerne ice cream. Oh, sorry. Actually it was the Gaufre de Liege . Now what do we do? Let the ice cream melt so we can finish the wine, or ruin the wine experience by eating the dessert? We compromise. My wife eats her dessert, I drink my wine.

19:35 Waitress removes plates.

19:36 Waitress delivers bill.

Okay, even dullards like us can get the hint we're unwelcome.

19:40 Out the door.

2010 No, that's not the time. That's the year we'll go back to Chambar, if it's still in existence.

Really funny part is, when I made the reservation, the fellow bragged "We give you a full 2 hours, not like most DOV restaurants where they want you out in 90 minutes."

We had the distinct impression they were striving for a maximum number of turns per night, rather than giving diners an experience that would make them come back, or recommend Chambar to friends.

I read on another thread that Chambar had brought in a consultant to rectify its early shortcomings. It's time to bring her/him back. I don't mind "brisk" service during DOV, but they made us feel like they couldn't wait to get rid of us.

This was our 5th and last DOV restaurant. The other 4 were excellent value, and we'll be back. Not so Chambar.

Sorry for what I know is a very sarcastic tone, but, believe me, it would have been worse had I written it as soon as we came home.

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2010 No, that's not the time. That's the year we'll go back to Chambar, if it's still in existence.

Classic!

Poor, sweet, lovely Chambar, they are like a prize-fighter continually getting their ass knocked down.

But my money is on them always getting up.

"Attaboy, Rocky! Just a couple more days and DOV is through! Get up, boy!"

rocky150.jpg

This place has been shouldering an almost untenable reputation for excellence and hipness. Like Feenie's, they have a difficult rep to protect, especially during the near perpetual gong show that is DOV. Moreover, no consultant could possibly wade through the morass of DOV and come up with short-term, catch-all solutions. And further, no manager can be so omni-present as to police and put the fear of a predatory Dionysus into the more slack waitrons.

I hope we all give 'em another chance, at least sometime before the Olympics in 2010 when I would assume they'd be even more packed! :wink:

Restaurants during DOV market themselves as the culinary version of the Statue of Liberty to Vancouverites, complete with the inscription:

"Give me your tired, your hungry, your poor, your huddled masses...."

It sounds wonderful, but as soon as you get off the boat (ie. in the door), things tend to go awry...(take that Georgie boy!) :biggrin:

In the end, the service shouldn't skimp, regardless of how faceless each customer may get on the DOV assembly line.

Anything I hear negative about this place I believe, but I think they're best put down to growing pains. This baby isn't even one yet, and these are first time parents.

Andrew Morrison

Food Columnist | The Westender

Editor & Publisher | Scout Magazine

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Admittedly maybe my expectations were too high because Chambar was so over-hyped before it even opened. Hard to live up to the press it got before they even fired up the ovens.

Note to p.r. consultants and editors of glossy lifestyle magazines: let restaurants prove themselves a bit before touting them as best new restaurant of the year.

That said, we dine out a lot, and know we need to lower expectations for DOV, but not that low.

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if you have the opportunity to go back to Chambar and sit at the bar, ask bartender David Fesq to pair a few beers -- I learned a lot while having dinner at the bar and learned to really appreciate Belgian beer. A few faves are Hoegaarden and seafood, Chimay Red with halibut and Stout or Bellevue Kriek with chocolate - the latter being a total surprise and quite wonderful.

And for more info, check out the latest EAT magazine -- Food with the Perfect Pint

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Like Feenie's, they have a difficult rep to protect,

How can a restarant that has been open 6 months have a "difficult rep" to protect, the place was way over-hyped and will be just fine but please let's not put it in the same category as Feenie's.

Feenie's is attached to a restaurant which had already proved its bones, run by a chef who had already cooked at Beard House and, like it or not, had his own show on The Food Network.

Strange that a post advising caution for the "baby" should manage to continue the hype at the same time.

''Wine is a beverage to enjoy with your meal, with good conversation, if it's too expensive all you talk about is the wine.'' Bill Bowers - The Captain's Tavern, Miami

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Hate to be the odd man out, but our experience was not as good as Plunk and Mooshmouse.

18:30 Arrive on time for our reservation. Promptly seated near the drafty front door.

18:40 Waitress first appears. Apologizes for the delay. Says she'll be right back. Don't think it's because she's too busy. There are 3 empty tables within 15 feet of us.

18:42 Waitress comes back to take drink order. Would we like to order our dinners too? Well, not really, but since you're here,and it's DOV and we know you're busy we'll try not to dawdle.

We each order the Tourelle de Crevettes et Crabe

18:48 Tourelles de Crevettes et Crabe arrive. Were we hallucinating, or did we order drinks. Don't they normally come, like, before the food? Let's maybe just wait a minute.

18:50 Waiter brings our drinks. He sees we haven't started our appetizers and must have assumed it was because we weren't properly introduced. Proceeds to tell us every detail of what's on the plate. This is an annoying trend. Tolerable at West where they carry it off with style. Not so endearing here.

Glad we ordered the Tourelles because now we have great inspiration for our next dinner party. Mix a tin of canned shrimp with a tin of crabmeat, sprinkle some pomegranate seeds, voila. Maybe they'd been in the fridge too long, but we were definitely underwhelmed.

18:55 Waitress returns to take our wine order. They have a limited selection of VQA, but a nice cross-section of choices other than the usual suspects. We go for the Blasted Church Pinot Noir.

19:00 Waiter returns with the wine and proceeds to open it and begin to fill our glasses, despite our nearly full drinks. Does he think it needs to breathe? Maybe we're meant to mix the wine with my Hoegaarden beer? He asks if we've tried it before. Nope. Now the usual response to that would be something vacuous like "I think you'll enjoy it. It's a precocious little wine. You'll find it goes well with your dinners, blah, blah,blah." Nothing like that for our man though. His response? "Gotta be a first time for everything."

19:05 Entrees arrive.  Tajine d'Aziz a l'Agneau  for me and Moules-Frites Cocotte for my wife.

Lamb was very stringy and lukewarm. The cinnamon overwhelmed any other flavour that the poor lamb may have ever had.

The mussels were plump and succulent. Very enjoyable. The frites were top-class. My wife's only complaint was that the broth was extremely salty. It's usually nice to dip some bread into the sauce, but no chance of that here -- no bread for one thing, but also the sauce would have been too salty anyway.

19:15 Waitress delivers 2 glasses of water. Did we suddenly look thirstier than we did  30 minutes ago? Maybe she knows about the over-salting.

19:25 Waitress takes our plates. Still 1/3 bottle of wine. The wine was the best part of the meal, so, knowing we still had 35 minutes on the DOV clock, we thought we could take a few minutes to enjoy it.

19:27 Desserts arrive unannounced. Eggo waffles with Lucerne ice cream. Oh, sorry. Actually it was the Gaufre de Liege . Now what do we do? Let the ice cream melt so we can finish the wine, or ruin the wine experience by eating the dessert? We compromise. My wife eats her dessert, I drink my wine.

19:35 Waitress removes plates.

19:36 Waitress delivers bill.

Okay, even dullards like us can get the hint we're unwelcome.

19:40 Out the door.

2010  No, that's not the time. That's the year we'll go back to Chambar, if it's still in existence.

Really funny part is, when I made the reservation, the fellow bragged "We give you a full 2 hours, not like most DOV restaurants where they want you out in 90 minutes."

We had the distinct impression they were striving for a maximum number of turns per night, rather than giving diners an experience that would make them come back, or recommend Chambar to friends.

I read on another thread that Chambar had brought in a consultant to rectify its early shortcomings. It's time to bring her/him back. I don't mind "brisk" service during DOV, but they made us feel like they couldn't wait to get rid of us.

This was our 5th and last DOV restaurant. The other 4 were excellent value, and we'll be back. Not so Chambar.

Sorry for what I know is a very sarcastic tone, but, believe me, it would have been worse had I written it as soon as we came home.

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OK - First time for everything - well first time to comment on this site, and finally going to reply to a gripe.

I'm Karri, co-owner of Chambar with my husband Nico.

Beychevelle - totally horrified to hear of your experience and am very sorry to hear you had such a horrible evening. We've feed close to 4000 people during DOV and on some nights put out over 1200 plates in a an evening. Not bad for 4 people in the kitchen - no matter.

Reading e-gullet forums have been a great source of constructive critiscismand in most cases very helpful. For example someone was making comments about our fries be substandard. Nico being Belgian makes this a great insult. I try not to eat fries more than once a week or I'd be big as a house, but thanks to the comments I tended to agree & we discovered that our deep fryer had a regulator built in, and another had been added during hookup. Problem solved.

However we certainly don't use canned food and our ice cream is lovingly homemade daily, and Liege style waffles are made traditionally with imported pearl sugar + fresh yeast. I do hope you come back before 2010, please introduce your self so I can get you with my cattle prod a few times before I buy you a beer.

We cannot complain in the least at being full since we opened becuase it could quite easily be the opposite. The hype about Chambar created such high expectations & ruthless critisism from Day one - all of which we take with a grain of salt, glass of wine or scotch late at night, continue to work our asses off and enjoy ourselves because at the end of the day - we love what we do.

Opening Chambar has been a crazy adventure, and can only hope this will continue - beyond 2010. We're bloody here to stay!!

Karri

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OK - First time for everything - well first time to comment on this site, and finally going to reply to a gripe.

I'm Karri, co-owner of Chambar with my husband Nico.

Karri,

Welcome to eGullet, and thanks for the reply! This is after all a 2-way street so fair's fair, right?

I'd encourage you & Nico to add your thoughts to the DOV Industry View Thread (CLICKETY).

A.

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Hi Karri -

Welcome from a fellow newcomer to the forum :smile:

As I mentioned in my first-ever eGullet posting, I would crawl across broken glass to get to your Gaufre de Liege. Heck, I'd even given up the first-born Little Snacky Cat for a stack of those waffles! I bet the waffles would be cheaper to raise in the long run anyway, and they probably wouldn't disobey their curfew and hide their report cards.

Anyway, I digress. I just want to send a little love Chambar's way and let you know how much I enjoy your restaurant. Mr Snacky Cat and I have spent several delightful evenings there, and I have been consistently pleased with every aspect of the experience. The FOH staff have always been kind enough to slot us in on what is often rather short notice, and we've received the same careful attention from the staff whether the restaurant is quiet (which I have seen once, on a Monday at 5:30, and which certainly did not last for long!), or packed to the rafters. The ambience is lovely - just the right blend of lively and classy, and don't get me started on the food! I am planning on eating my way through you whole menu, and my calculations put me at the halfway point now. Though the waistline of my trousers might not be looking forward to it, I certainly relish the chance to munch through the other half.

One aspect of Chambar that I find particularly wonderful is the fact that the whole experience comes at a surprsingly moderate price. Despite having a number of 2-person dinners that included stomach-extending amounts of food and liver-taxing fountains of wine, I have yet to crack the $100 mark, even after tax and tip (and I'm no chintzy tipper either! The service I have received there is always top-notch and is duly rewarded.)

Oh, and I love the double Aeroplan Visa miles! I wouldn't be surprised if I earned a free ticket just on Chambar dollars alone in the next year or two. Hope I don't have to buy two seats after all those waffles, though.

I'm delighted to have you guys here, bringing such a wonderful experience to this city's diners at such a fair and reasonable price. I'm happy you're in it for the long haul, and Mr Snacky Cat and I will be right there with you. We'll be the really stuffed looking ones with the chocolate waffle sauce all over our faces :biggrin:

We'll see you on Valentine's Day. We've got our reservation made and we're looking forward to the latest round of Snacky Cat vs. The Menu.

Jenn

"She's not that kind of a girl, Booger!"

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Karri!

After working with you in Whistler a few years back, I wasn't the slightest bit surprised to see you and Nico on "Opening Soon" and am thrilled for you for the success Chambar has seen thus far. Congrats on doing such a fantastic job! I was most impressed at all the work the two of you did yourselves- it truly is YOUR restaurant from the ground up.

And to everyone else...I know it dosen't always mean much in the cut-throat restaurant world, but this gal is extremely gracious and professional and nice.... hype or not, she and her talented husband deserve their success.

(I know you're just racking your brain trying to figure out who I am! :raz: )

"Never eat more than you can lift" -Miss Piggy

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I am most impressed with your polite and gracious response regarding an egullet member's review. I look forward to enjoying those Belgain waffles soon!  :smile:

Karri,

I too am impressed by your polite and gracious response. I know my tone was very sarcastic, and (with benefit of hindsight) apologize for that. It was rooted in my disappointment, not out of a failure to recognize the effort you put into making Chambar an exceptional dining destination.

Good luck, and you may see me again. My wife (the rational one) said we should give Chambar another shot when DOV is over. Personally I think she just wants to go back for the frites.

Now the cattle prod is a whole other issue. Does it come with handcuffs... :biggrin:

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Welcome Karri to Egullet, I too have had great experiences at Chambar, love the room, the location and definitely the food. My husband is definitely more of a beer coniseur than wine and was very excited when first heard you guys coming to town. Hearing about those waffles, i think i might have slide in and have a few.. being 6 1/2 months preg., i could eat (and sometimes d0) them daily... hmmn!!! i am SOOOO HUNGRY! and a bowl of corn pops is not going to cut it!

DANIELLE

"One cannot think well, love well, sleep well, if one has not dined well."

-Virginia Woolf

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Hey Karrie and others.

I ate at Chambar recently as well, on a snowy night in mid January.

My friend and I thought our meal was very good indeed. We both the venison carpaccio to begin, and the grilled bread with tapenade. She had the lamb and I had the black cod, both excellent. I had creme brulee, which I always order the first time out at a new place. It was a smidgeon over cooked for my taste, which tends toward very wobbly. My friend had the belgian waffle, which she loved. Next time, I will definitely try the moules frites.

The food was excellent. The service was relaxed and informed.

I do have a few small quibbles.

I have a personal prejudice against the team approach to service. It often throws the cadence of the meal off and one ends up feeling a little rushed. This certainly was not due to the attitude of the servers; it was a product of too many attendants, where too many senses of timing were at play. We ate a three course at a 7pm reso, and the bill was on the table at 8 sharp.

I will definitely go back... I think they are doing a fine job at living up to the hype.

The only other little complaint is the acoustics in the back room. I will definitely be sticking to the front section.

Edited by annanstee (log)

The sea was angry that day my friends... like an old man trying to send back soup in a deli.

George Costanza

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