Where We’ve Been Drinking: Chaplin’s
Ramen. Cocktails. Silent Film Era decor. We don’t usually think of these things as being particularly strongly related to one another. Chaplin’s obviously disagrees. Each of these three elements is so prominently featured in the restaurant’s presentation of itself that it’s clear the combination isn’t accidental. Count us curious. We made the trip up to Shaw to find out what a 1920s, silent-film-inspired, Japanese cocktail and noodle bar would feel like.
It was a chilly night, but the patio looked inviting and the heaters were going; so we asked to be seated outside. The host ushered us past the antique piano and out to our table which somehow felt both private and part of a bustling scene at the same time.
We ordered some dumplings, which were fine but not remarkable, and one of their many ramen options, which was pretty good.
I’m still not sure we understand the connection between Japanese noodles and Charlie Chaplin, but both elements were pretty enjoyable on their own terms; and the cozy but lively patio was a nice bonus.
What we ordered and what we thought
The Pilgrim: Rujero Singani; Luxardo maraschino liqueur; creme de violette; pineapple; lemon; green Chartreuse
The Knockout: rye; apricot liqueur; honey; lemon; peach bitters; egg white
Both of our cocktails came on the rocks, which is often a bad early sign for us when we’re drinking at a new place. It means that the drinks are likely to be too light and fruity for our tastes. Sadly, that was the case with the Knockout. The egg white froth was a nice touch, but otherwise it tasted like a mixed juice to us. It was particularly surprising that we couldn’t discern the rye at all, since we consider ordering a whiskey drink to be a pretty strong declaration: ‘I want to taste my liquor.’ Vodka drinkers may want their spirit to play a behind the scenes role; not the case with whiskey drinkers.
We liked the Pilgrim. We had a hard time placing the base spirit, and it’s easy in retrospect to see why. It turns out that Rujero Singani is a little-known, Bolivian brandy. It served well as a delivery platform for the pleasant, mildly complex blend of maraschino, violette, and Chartreuse. The Pilgrim felt to us like a more interesting than usual punch.
So should you go?
Maybe. Neither the food nor the drinks were blow-your-mind amazing. But the combination of Japanese food and cocktails is a rare one. If you’re in the mood for both at the same time, Chaplin’s gives you some pretty solid options.