by Andrew Morrison | The new Chambar opened this morning, right next door from the original. Scout broke the news of the award-winning Belgian-Moroccan restaurant’s expansion plans after the location was secured a year ago. We’ve been tracking its construction ever since.
Today was opening day, and the first time the previously evenings-only restaurant had ever served breakfast and lunch. Many of the dishes on offer this morning had transitioned into the new Chambar line-up from a menu made famous at the original location of Cafe Medina (eg. the short rib fricassee, Belgian waffles, etc.) before it moved to its new location on Richards Street last week. The old Medina, you’ll recall, used to be next door to the old Chambar.
Confused? It’s actually not as complicated as it seems.
The short story is that the owners of Chambar (Karri & Nico Schuermans) launched Cafe Medina with a business partner (Robbie Kane) seven years ago. When Chambar announced its plans last year to expand next door with a brunch/lunch service featuring chef Nico’s original dishes designed for Cafe Medina, a future with the two eateries existing side by side and competing against one another with the same dishes was plainly undesirable. The solution was a cordial split between the partners and several city blocks of distance between their respective new restaurants.
The new Chambar, as you can see from the shots above and below, has clearly maintained the soothing, casual aesthetic of the original, and yet is has grown considerably in size, both in seating and production capacities (the new kitchen is massive). It has also gained a patio, which will no doubt be considered one of the better ones in the city before summer’s end.
The quality of the food and drink, in my mind at least, is something of a given. I have no doubts about the kitchen or bar staff. The big question for most people will be this: “Does it feel like the original?” And it’s a fair question to ask, because in addition to the great drinks and delicious food, Chambar tabled a tangible soul — which is a rare thing in the restaurant business. The spirit of the eatery was one of the original location’s best qualities, not to mention a probable cause of the storied Chambar Effect. To date, I’ve only broken bread once at the new address, but I think the answer to that question is a big yes. Chambar remains Chambar, all day and well into the night.