When I receive a message from Rachel and Joanna of Black Dog Hospitality, the local company that owns Atomica, Harpers, Dianne’s Fish Shack and Smokehouse and Le Chien Noir, I am pleasantly surprised that they would like to treat me to a meal at Le Chien Noir. I’ve happily (and on my own terms) written about my love for all of Black Dog’s other vendors, so why not?
Le Chien Noir is a Kingston staple and is known in this town and beyond for its fine french dining. I would happily treat myself to a meal here any day.
When I mention my upcoming visit to friends and family, their eyes widen, “You’re going to Chien for dinner?!” Many follow up with, “You HAVE to get the oysters.” Duly noted.
As I walk into the long, dimly-lit space with exposed brick and the most beautiful metallic-detailed ceiling (seriously, look up when you visit), I am warmly greeted by my two hosts for the evening. Imagine going to one of Kingston’s top restaurants with expert foodies – who are very familiar with the venue – to navigate you through a mouth-watering menu. What a treat!
Drink Choices: Their wine list is well-curated with a variety of bottles from all over the world – Canada, France, Italy, Australia, Argentina, Spain, etc…– When I first peak at it I can’t decide and I’m given small samples to help me make up my mind (they offer this accommodation to any indecisive guest!). I choose the Seven Peak Chardonnay from California. I typically lean towards a Sauvignon Blanc but this Chardonnay is crisp and light and resembles a Sauvignon Blanc.
Apps: When the bread arrives at the table, my eyes widen when our server explains the butter accompanying our basket is duck fat and garlic herb. Wow. The bread is fresh with a nice crust and a soft centre and the butter is…I can’t compare it to anything I’ve ever had but it’s creamy, salty and perfect.
Considering the popularity of the oysters, it’s the first app I gravitate towards. We share an assortment served on a tray of ice, perfectly cold and slurpable. If you have never tried oysters, this is a good spot to have your first experience. I am told they are shipped in almost every other day which is about as good as it gets for Eastern Ontario seafood dining.
Next up, escargot. This is a french restaurant, after all. My favourite part is that it’s not served in the traditional escargot dish but in a deep bowl that allows more space for a bigger portion of cheese-covered deliciousness. The crostini that accompanies it is crisp and perfect for dipping in the basil pesto left at the bottom of the bowl. Though I am very tempted to try the poutine – frites, Quebec brie, shredded duck confit, green peppercorn-cognac jus – I don’t want to spoil the next course. I am encouraged to come back and try during cocktail hour (3-5) when the apps are half-price.
Main: My hosts remind me that I am welcome to order whatever my heart desires so I go for the Herb-Crusted Rack of Lamb with grilled raddichio, preserved lemon, ‘canreg station’ pecorino and lamb jus. The lamb is so tender and juicy that it creates what my friend calls nature’s lip balm. And the farro risotto is very rich and full of flavour. I steal a bite of Joanna’s trout and it’s something I will consider ordering on my next visit – very moist and flakey with a nice crust.
Dessert: I purposely eat only half of the lamb to make room for a sweet treat. How can I enjoy a french meal without topping it off with a crème brûlée? The layer of caramelized sugar makes the perfect cracking sound when I tap my spoon on top revealing the creamy inside freckled with vanilla bean ( I think real vanilla bean is what makes a perfect crème brûlée!). We also split the Apple Butter Torte which is delicious but if I had to choose – I would pick the crème brûlée any day!
$$$$: Like I often say on this blog, this is a #treatyoself meal. The rack of lamb is $39. It is a generous serving, delicious and I have leftovers. However, Le Chien Noir, is in my special occasion category – I can’t wait to make up a special occasion so I can go back (first day of spring?). If you happen to visit, it’s money well spent.
BONUS: With that being said, they do offer cocktail hour specials (50% off apps 3pm-5pm, daily) and currently Snowdelicious (pre-fixed menus from Sun-Wed -5pm-9pm), making some of their menu items more accessible.
I would like to thank Le Chien Noir for treating me to a wonderful meal. I would also like to note that anything I mention on this website has my full endorsement – sponsored or not.