Building on their success of Pukka, an upscale Indian restaurant on St. Clair Avenue West, co-owners Derek Valleau and Harsh Chawka opened Concession Road and brought Chef Masayuki Tamaru on board to create and execute the menu.
The restaurant is named after the old name for the Avenue, which was a concession road laid out in the late 18th century by the British for access to farming land. Concession Road’s address is 760 St. Clair Avenue West, near Rushton Road in the Humewood area. The chef is Japanese but classically trained in French cooking. He worked with Jamie Kennedy as a sous chef at Crush Wine Bar, and you can tell when you eat the twice-fried French fries. This neighbourhood bistro is a French restaurant with a modern flair and some global influences.
The restaurant is split into two separate rooms due to the structure of the space. The bar area with high tops has a low ceiling with whitewashed wooden walls and up a step to the narrow dining room, the ceilings are higher. The floors are poured concrete.
There are Edison bulb light fixtures and black and white photography on the walls and the decor is minimalist.
Most of what we ate was pretty good.
The shrimp bonbon was a cute presentation of crispy shrimp rolls with a citrus salad with a splash of red pepper sauce. They looked like wrapped candies. The roasted beet and warm goat cheese salad with endive, candied walnuts in a black currant vinaigrette was light, but nothing memorable. One dish I will remember was the JFC which stands for Japanese fried chicken on a bed of buttermilk mash, in a tomato and preserved lemon mayonnaise, served with green beans. For me, this was the signature dish of the evening and a notable highlight. Tender morsels of chicken quickly fried in the most delectable crunchy batter. The steak and frites were also cooked well but could have been served a little hotter. Our dinner guest ordered the fish of the day, which was Artic char served with seasonal vegetables. I enjoyed it, she felt it was sitting in too much sauce. I reminded her it was a French restaurant after all.
For dessert, we shared a petit apple tart with some chantilly cream. The tart was tasty but I am more of a fan of cookie crust rather than phyllo dough. The menu itself was small but the food was beautifully presented and the prices were quite reasonable. They also offer a fixed price menu during the week for $28, which is excellent value. For my vegetarian readers, yes they offer a vegetarian option on the menu and the menu changes regularly. The servers were friendly and genuinely caring and helpful. The chef had some serious skills in the kitchen and this is a quality neighbourhood restaurant – St. Clair West is getting some good additions to the area. The restaurant is open for dinner 6 nights a week and for lunch on the weekends.