There’s something about Stratford that’s calming. Maybe it’s abundance of green space or the river that runs through the city centre; there’s a tranquility about the place. Perhaps best known for their arts and the Stratford festival, the town attracts many out-of-towners over the spring and summer. And where there’s art, you’ll often find delicious food – after all, what’s better than a dinner and a show?
Rundles is a fine dining establishment, which has been a part of the scene since the late 1970’s. Offering a 3-course prix fixe menu for $99.50, there are a sufficient options to make deciding difficult. But, before the meal started, a shooter of tomatillo gazpacho arrives: thick and bright with a punch of spice. Over top were kernels of sweet corn and flora, a refreshing start.
Both the B.C. side-stripe shrimp and scallops were fresh and had a delicate sweetness to it. Topping the seafood was shaved fennel adding an acidic crunch, while the silky sea urchin sauce and yuzu gelee cubes gave the dish interest, yet worked well with everything else.
My husband’s sweet corn soup may look plain but was full of flavours with a savoury balance against the corn’s sweetness and the crispy cracker adding contrast.
My favourite cut of steak is the rib-eye, so to see a lamb version on the menu was appealing. My first experience with this cut of lamb was heavenly … cutting through the meat was as easy as getting through pork belly! There’s the flavour of a lamb chop but the tenderness of a loin. Spicy pieces of lamb sausages and roasted vegetables finished the dish.
For such a thick cut of lean meat, the noisettes of venison was tender and richly flavoured without being gamey. The beluga lentil ragout, celery root and parsnip confit made the dish hearty in a refined manner.
Skipping on the sweet desserts, I opted for the cheese plate instead. Consisting of three soft French goats’ milk cheeses, it was right up my alley, each one lusciously creamy. Spread on hot cranberry and walnut bread with pistachio oil, it was delicious.
Although the blueberry crumble tart didn’t look esthetically pleasing, with the pale crust and being presented upside down, it was chocked full of fresh blueberries encapsulated in a thin pastry crust. The brown butter ice cream on the side was tasty, but in my opinion, didn’t really combine well with the fruit tart … sometimes plain vanilla is just the way to go.
Rundles’ menu also has tempting vegetarian options. Although I didn’t try the following dishes, they smelled and looked appetizing. As a starter, a warm salad of grilled baby leek, shimeji mushrooms and vericots. Or a main of plump squash tortellini filled with wild mushrooms and an aromatic smoked carrot juice broth poured tableside.
To end the evening, the meal includes coffee or tea to end - I had a lovely floral green tea for a $4 supplement. The drinks are a perfect excuse to sit and chat; to enjoy tranquility of Stratford for just a bit longer.
Disclaimer: A 50% discount was provided on the above meal. Rest assured, I will always provide my honest opinion as noted in Gastro World's mission statement.
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Gastro World's Grading System
- Anything under 5 - I really disliked and will never go back
- 6 - decent restaurant but I likely won't return
- 7 - decent restaurant and I will likely return
- 8 - great restaurant that I'd be happy to recommend
- 9 - fantastic restaurant that I would love to visit regularly and highly recommend
- 10 - absolute perfection!
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