In 1814, 39-year-old privateer Captain Thomas Boyle found himself and his clipper ship, Chasseur (pronounced SHA-sur), in the British Isles with one objective: to start a bunch of shit with the British government. He succeeded beyond his wildest dreams. A letter he sent to King George III basically said that he was jacking any ship that sailed through the Isles. This act of ridiculous bravado caused British ships to be called back from the U.S.A, where they were still engaged in the War of 1812, so they could lend safe passage to merchant vessels carrying worthwhile booty. In spite of the beefed-up security and increased profile of his ship, Boyle captured or sank 17 ships before returning home, where his now-famous clipper was dubbed "The Pride of Baltimore." It's from this celebrated ship that The Chasseur (3328 Foster Ave., thechasseur.com,  327-6984) in Canton takes its name.
Sitting atop the hill at the corners of Foster and Highland is the renovated facade of The Chasseur. The minimalist design is a far cry from the outdoor art project that was Adam's Eve frontage. Taking over operation of the bar and restaurant after Adam's Eve closed, the management at The Chasseur gradually made the transformation over a period of four months. Now with a new look and a new menu created by Chef Sean Praglowski (formerly of Blue Hill Tavern), The Chasseur is making its name in the neighborhood as a place for the locals to come in and have a good meal.
The dining room is low-key and family-friendly. A few tables sport high chairs, couples have quiet dinners at others. In the bar, customers sip drinks while socializing and watching the TVs. The cocktail menu offers nautical-themed drinks. The Helmsman's Elixir ($7) is a light concoction of gin, elderflower liqueur, orange bitters, and soda. It has a subtle citrus flavor accented by the unique elderflower essence. The Boyle's Baltimore Water ($8), on the other hand, is anything but subtle. Sweet and tart with fresh blackberries, berry vodka, house-made sour mix, and soda, the drink woke up the taste buds and got us ready to eat.
The menu at The Chasseur is not long. Most of the items fall under the comfort-food category, but some, like the steak and egg ($9), have a slight twist. Unlike a traditional steak-and-egg dish, this version consists of hand-cut steak tartare topped with a quail egg. The bigger-than-usual pieces of chopped meat are a nice change of pace from the finer ground tartares that we've had around town. The addition of lemon zest for brightness and quail egg for creaminess works well. The sloppy joe sliders ($9) come as a trio of the elementary school favorites and play as well in the dining room as they did in the cafeteria. The sweet and spicy meat mixture is served on super-soft rolls that bring memories of summer cookouts with the family. It was a great version of a childhood classic. The duck-fat tots ($8) were crispy and had a nice duck fat flavor. The plentiful tots came sprinkled with Parmesan and served with an avocado-ranch dipping sauce, but we preferred them sans sauce.
The entrees at The Chasseur are a rib-sticking bunch, food to make sure you do not leave hungry. The braised pork pappardelle ($23) might seem expensive at first, until the mound of noodles, sundried tomatoes, olives, spinach, and braised pork is laid before you. It's a lot to try to eat but that's why there are takeout boxes. That said, the dish is rather light for what it looks to be. The vegetables brighten up the hunks of soft braised pork while the pork jus coating everything acts as an ersatz sauce.
Sour beef short ribs ($24) was the most anticipated dish of the night, and while it was good, it could have been a little more sour. The short rib pieces were served in a more sweet than sour sauerbraten sauce, and served with three large potato dumplings. The sauce was fortified by shreds of beef while the main chunks of braised beef fell apart at the kiss of a fork. The dumplings were lighter than they looked, with pieces of potato in the dough. The combination of dumpling, meat, and sauce was damn tasty and perfect for a cool fall night.
Dessert was the only low point of our meal. The chamomile tea creme brulee ($8) was light on the chamomile tea flavor, which, for what little there was, got blown out by the sweet whipped cream, honey, and coffee cake it was served with. That wasn't the main problem. The big problem was that the custard was very grainy. This comes from overcooking the custard and curdling the eggs. It was a good idea, just poorly executed.
The Chasseur's maiden voyage has just begun, and so far it is relatively smooth sailing. They serve good comfort food and seem to already be building a loyal base of patrons that look to it as a go-to local restaurant. It's most definitely a place that Captain Boyle would have been honored to have his name attached to (after he plundered it of course).
The Chasseur is open Monday 6 p.m. to 1 a.m., Tuesday and Wednesday 4 p.m. to 11 p.m., Thursday 4 p.m. to 1 a.m., Friday and Saturday, noon to 1 a.m.