Address: 42 Queen Street
Type of Meal: Dinner
Envers is a popular restaurant near Guelph that has been in business for over 30 years. During our return visit, the restaurant has expanded to include a patio (unused as we went in the winter) complete with a new dining room and bar area downstairs. Located in a historic house, Envers has charming surroundings, with a cozy warm fireplace if you eat in the basement. Despite its antiquated dining area, its menu is rather eclectic with a mix of offerings from all over the world.
My starter of grilled octopus ($13) incorporated Mexican spices and a creamy Thai inspired sauce. The wedges of tentacles were very tender and resembled the texture of chicken. I enjoyed the spicy rub and grilled smokiness of the octopus that contrasted well against the cream coconut sauce on the bottom.
In my opinion, the dish would have benefited from something lighter than sweet potato fries sitting at the bottom as it was a bit heavy for an appetizer. Maybe a typical but delicious corn salsa or vinaigrette based slaw would have helped. The cornbread was dry and tasteless so needed something mixed into the batter (such as corn or roasted peppers) and/or a brush of compound butter on top. All in all, a decent start but not something I’d order again.
Italian and French influences made up my husband’s gnocchi with duck confit ($14). Soft pillows of ricotta gnocchi were flavoured with duck jus to keep it light. Pieces of tender duck confit, shaved foie gras and crisp brussel sprout leaves made this a pretty substantial starter and really could be a great main in a larger serving.
We both ordered the braised beef shortrib ($32) as we didn’t want to risk the other not sharing in the event it was as delicious as it sounded. As expected, the short rib easily broke apart from being cooked for hours in a red wine sauce. Sitting below, soaking up all the rich meat juices, were roasted carrots & parsnips, more ricotta gnocchi and crisp rapini. Chef Ken Hodgins should be commended for adding the shavings of pickled fennel on top which went so well with the dish; the otherwise stick-to-your-ribs meal really helped get a fresh punch from them.
To end, we shared a fairly large cheese board ($14), which was beautifully presented with
tons of fixings – nut and fruit crackers, tart apple slices, sweet black berries and rehydrated apricots that were moist but not syrupy. The four cheeses we received consisted of blue cheese, parmesan and two softer ones (perhaps gouda and swiss)? If only there was a drizzle of honey for the blue cheese it would have been perfect.
Envers continues to be a good place to dine at while making visits to Guelph. I’m sure their patio would be beautiful in the summer time that it may warrant a return meal.
Overall mark - 8 out of 10
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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!