Cleaver

Set on layering up in warm, chunky knits and refusing to cook dinner, we bundled up in the midst of a snowstorm and headed out to give Cleaver a try. The name sounds pretty daunting – like the title of a horror-film – but the inside, and the food, are nothing to be scared about. It’s been open for a couple months now, nestled into the heart of 17th avenue and very non-assuming with nothing but a giant metal cut-out of a knife and a few patio tables.

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We of course did not select the patio this time.

Instead, we headed inside into the dim ambiance, swarmed with mirrors, wood, and vintage lighting. We selected to remove our coats and plop ourselves down by the rustic bar, only to find ourselves immediately served with a cup of warm, salty popcorn.

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The menu is selective – but as you can guess, it features various types of meat. Guests were scattered around, quietly chatting and laughing over family-style sharing plates. For all you picky eaters out there, you won’t find the menu online. But trust me, you’re sure to find something you like.

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The first half is tapas style, with small dishes such as steak tacos, yorkshire pudding, salads, and vegetables. While the second half features main dishes such as various steaks (you know I love a good steak), duck, and chicken – or in their more blunt words – bull and cock.

We heeded the warning that the chicken dish for 2 was pretty serious, but decided to give it a try.

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The entire bird is speared and brought out – legs up – in a hot, cast-iron dish. It’s filled with cilantro and bread stuffing, and coated in a house-made spice blend. Layering the bottom are the most-perfect crunchy, house-cut fries…cooked in duck fat, and spiced with a bit of a kick. Literally the perfect meal.

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It was at this point that I resisted the urge to take a picture while holding the legs up like little T-Rex arms.

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We started with the legs (at the bartender’s advice) and made our way through the body. The chicken was so tender it literally pulled apart in chunks. It was at this point that I may have let my inner savage out and ate it with my hands. Screw forks and knives!

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We continuously filled our plates as the bartender created works of art before us. With drinks like this coming out, how could we not order one?

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In preparation for dessert, Cole ordered a warm whisky-caramel type drink with whipped cream. They really aren’t joking when it comes to cocktail creations.

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Although our meal was pretty massive, we were too tempted by the dessert menu not to place one more order. It was a tough call between the chocolate ganache with a maple meringue or the salted caramel fondue. But in the end, we were advised the fondue was best for sharing.

The salted caramel was warm and sticky. Perfect for coating each morsel.

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The house-made marshmallows were light and gooey.

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And the donuts. The DONUTS! Covered in sweet sugar and fried to perfection, the crispy outside opened to a soft and warm interior. We each had our own donut and donut-hole. You might be thinking, but are they as good as those Stampede mini-donuts? Yes, yes they are.

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After clearing our plate yet again, we were reluctant to leave the warm and welcoming atmosphere. But, back on our trusty winter coats went, and we trooped out into the snow.

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Everything was really good value – the chicken for two was $37, which is less than you would pay for a single steak at those “luxury” spots. The place is great for a group of close friends, a date, or even a family get-together. Reservations can be made online here – which I always recommend for a Friday/Saturday night.

Apparently they have brunch – which if dinner was any indication, is probably seriously tasty.