Auberge Avec Canoe (Toronto)

Something magical is happening at Auberge Du Pommier: Auberge avec Canoe, where the restaurants’ chefs are collaborating on special weekly menus that are still French, but with a lighter touch that’s perfect for the outdoor dining experience. Canoe’s affinity to Canadian ingredients is brought over and gives the dishes a refreshingly modern feel.

Having eaten at Auberge and Canoe on several occasions, the mash-up brings out the best in both restaurants. Possibly it’s due to a 4-month hiatus from a fancy meal, the copious amount of wine with dinner, or the fact the kitchen is dedicating all their attention to a mere dozen tables, but this was my best experience from the two establishments.

Their tasting menu ($80) begins with a loaf of pain au lait, the airy warm milk bread brimming with flavours – herbs baked into the bread and a delicate roasted shiitake & nori butter to spread over it. Any heaviness is offset by the pickled mushrooms with garlic scape served on the side. How did they get the scapes to taste so mellow?

In celebration of the land and sea, an oyster shell arrives with a bed on Haida Gwaii (in British Columbia) uni custard that’s silky and sweet. It goes nicely with the savoury chunks of seaweed-cured beef tartare mixed with smoked oyster that’s present in smell but disappears into the meat. As a contrasting crunch against the soft tartare, a mound of tart preserved white asparagus relish brings a lightness to the entire dish. Get a bit of everything in each bite as the combined flavours and textures is what makes the land and sea shine.

The three bites of foie gras parfait provided just enough decadence without leaving us feeling too full. The heavier mousse is balanced with the plum’s acid and edible florals, its silkiness enhanced by the bits of toasted torn brioche. This harmonious balance of indulgence vs. freshness, smooth vs. crunchy, and savoury vs. sweet is a common theme of the menu.

Perhaps the dish that was most Canoesque was the Ontario duck duo. The restaurant cooks meat beautifully and the lovely rendered duck breast was no exception, seasoned perfectly so that the fowl’s flavours weren’t masked with salt. A log of seared confit dark meat is the duo to the dish – so rich and flavourful that you’ll remember you’re indeed at a French restaurant.

If you’re not full already, the lovely fried panisse (a smooth carb that’s like polenta but milder) topped with miso cream and roasted cauliflower will leave you holding your stomach.

Auberge’s Ontario peach cobbler pays homage to the south with the typical biscuit substituted with a sweet corn bread. While the dessert could have been heavy, the lemon verbena custard gives it a bright finish along with the juicy peach slices throughout. By the end of dinner, it’s getting dark, so the caramel popcorn tucked around the cobbler provides an unexpected bite.

The final nibble is a cube of strawberry cheesecake that’s a great interpretation of the traditional dessert: creamy, buttery, and full of berry notes.

Just like another O&B experience, the COVID safety protocols are in full force: well-spaced tables, masks whenever you’re not eating, QR code menus, cutlery tightly wrapped in napkins, minimizing pouring of liquids in an effort to not contaminate food, and clearly marked walking ways so customers are not wandering around and remain socially distanced indoors.

Despite being reminded about the COVID conditions from all the procedures, Auberge’s terrace is serene and a wonderful retreat. The stone patio surrounded by trees wrapped in small lights transported us to another environment. And for a couple of hours, everything felt normal again. 

Overall mark - 9 out of 10

How To Find Them
 Location: Toronto, Canada
 Address: 4150 Yonge Street

Follow me on twitter to chat, be notified about new posts and more -
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!

Is That It? I Want More!

Other Gastro World posts similar to this: