“We broke the first rule of restaurateurs,” confesses Chabrol co-proprietor and front-of-house man Niall McCotter. “Don’t open a restaurant for yourself. But we did.” With the Spanish-inspired Cava Restaurant already a Toronto classic, partners McCotter and chef Doug Penfold seized an opportunity proffered by a Cava regular in late 2015 to expand their holdings and bring proper food and wine to Yorkville, the city’s most chic but underserved neighborhood. Chabrol’s theme is unabashedly French, and the space, a hidden gem tucked o a quaint 40-seat courtyard, suggests a stylish, upscale Parisian wine bar. Penfold works classical southern-French magic with a closet-sized prep kitchen and a double induction burner, convection oven and sous vide machine behind the bar; diners are literally in the kitchen. A carefully chosen Tour-de-France wine list mirrors the traditional cuisine. The patio is the place to be in summer, “with a glass of Château Barbeiranne Côtes de Provence Rosé and a steak tartare,” McCotter suggests. “I wish someone else ran this place so I could be a patron.”
Update 2020: Cava Restaurant has permanently closed.
Chabrol, 90 Yorkville Ave., Toronto, Ontario, Canada
John Szabo, MS, has been traveling to Hungary since the late 1970s—first to visit relatives, and later to start J & J Eger Wine Co., where he makes kékfrankos with partner János Stumpf. But his day job is writing about wine and researching the world’s best wine bars.
This story appears in the print issue of August 2016.
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