Showing posts with label eggplant. Show all posts
Showing posts with label eggplant. Show all posts

Tabule Middle Eastern Cuisine - Queen (Toronto)


While Toronto restaurants have made great strides with accommodating food allergies, choices are still limited for those who have celiac level allergies to gluten. It’s an added liability or investment that some restaurants don’t want to take on to make to ensure their kitchens and food handling is celiac safe.

Accordingly, it’s admirable that Tabule Middle Eastern Cuisine has not only dedicated their chain to being celiac friendly but also offers a wide range of menu options. In fact, they seem to cater to a host of dietary restrictions including those who are vegan.

Traditionally, the tabule in the sampler platter ($22) wouldn’t be gluten-free due to it’s use of bulgur wheat. As a result, the kitchen substitutes quinoa into the finely chopped parsley, tomato, and onion salad instead, which gives it a finer and more delicate consistency. I love mixing the citrusy tabule with smoky rich babaganoush and sandwiching a spoon of it into the thin and chewy laffa ($3.95 a piece), it’s a great way to start the meal.

In fact, you can make a whole meal from their starters with the host of other mezze options gracing the menu. From the inexpensive assorted pickles ($4.50) made up on turnips, olives, hot peppers, and dill pickles to something warm and comforting like the aaranbeet ($8.95), which is unbattered fried cauliflower that’s tossed with tahini creating a warm nutty bite.

Tabule’s falafel salad ($14.95) continues to impress, the crispy chickpea and fava bean nuggets are deliciously fluffy, moist, and flavourful putting other falafels to shame. I do find the vinaigrette overly acidic (mixing a bit of tahini into it helps) and the dressing could use a hit more salt. If you’re not into super lemony salads, I’d stick with ordering the falafels solo.

The warak enab ($12.95) is also overly citrusy, which is a shame as the stuffed grape leaves are a great consistency – the leaves delicate and soft and the rice not too mushy. If only Tabule tones down the lemon seasoning and augments the tomato, garlic, and other spices instead.

For something filling, go for the eggplant meal ($16.95) where slices of aubergine are fried until soft and topped with tahini and pomegranate creating a salty, sweet, and nutty main. The sauces and juices go equally well when soaked into the mujaddara, a fragrant rice studded with lentils and onions. If things become too oily or heavy, have a bite of grilled vegetables that round out the dish.

Gathering around the table to eat and share is such an important ritual to build connection. Cheers to Tabule for making this possible for so many more people. 

Overall mark - 7 out of 10


How To Find Them
 Location: Toronto, Canada
 Address: 810 Queen Street East


Follow me on twitter to chat, be notified about new posts and more - https://twitter.com/GastroWorldBlog
____________________________
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!

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Azhar Kitchen & Bar (Toronto)

Azhar Kitchen & Bar is one of the many restaurants that forms the Gusto 54 chain, and it is no less inviting and delicious. After attending an event in Ossington, we were peckish and in search for a satisfying dinner before calling it a night. After being turned away from other Ossington establishments, it was Azhar that took us in and welcomed us onto comfortable seats at the bar.

Famished, we opted for shared starters, and I was excited to find zucchini flowers ($15) on the menu. The delicate flora is stuffed with a smooth cheese filling, which the menu describes as feta based but I tasted a faint blue cheese element as well, and deep fried giving the flower petals a light crunchiness, the centre a heat that blends with the creamy cheese, and the stem that zucchini texture and taste. Now these are the kind of flowers I like getting.

The babaganoush ($12) could easily satisfy four people, a huge mound of the roasted eggplant with a tart hit of date and molasses syrup and added crunchiness from a sprinkle of seeds. I appreciate Azhar’s use of vibrant high-quality olive oil that can blend with the eggplant or shine on its own. Either goes so wonderfully with the hot-from-the-oven pita that so soft and chewy. We thought one pita would do but after the first glorious bite, we immediately wanted another. The second arrived in no time and was equally piping hot… like singe your fingertips type of hot.

Being a weekday vegetarian, I appreciate the host of meatless options on Azhar’s menu. Although, I found they are generally a series of dishes (a side, a plant-based protein, etc.) that need to be ordered together, rather than having one dish that works as a complete meal. Accordingly, unless others at the table also want to go meatless it would be too much for one person.

In the end, I thought the Mujadara rice ($21) would be the best bet for a main, albeit a tad heavy for one (there were leftovers to bring home). The fragrant stewed lentils and caramelized combined nicely with the basmati rice studded with raisins and spices to create a flavour-packed dish. Generally, I’m not a fan of fruit with rice, but when combined with the creamy labneh, the raisin’s sweetness helped tone down the yoghurt’s acid. I wish there was the option to add another vegetarian protein to really round out the dish, a handful of roasted mushrooms might be great with the rice.

Service was top notch even sitting at the bar. The bartender was by to make sure we were satisfied and taken care of whenever he had a chance, and despite also having to man the bar was engaging and welcoming. In fact, if I had to describe Azhar with one word it would be ‘welcoming’, from interactions with staff members to the dishes that draw you in for another bite - Azhar would be one big welcome mat.  

Overall mark - 7.5 out of 10


How To Find Them
 Location: Toronto, Canada
 Address: 96 Ossington Avenue


Follow me on twitter to chat, be notified about new posts and more - https://twitter.com/GastroWorldBlog
____________________________
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!

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Babel (Toronto)

We all know that COVID has hit restaurants badly. If you’re a newly opened restaurant or one beginning during the pandemic, it’s even worse. O&B’s latest addition, Babel, is unfortunately one of these restaurants that has been affected since operations only began in late 2019, when COVID was a mere whisper.

Their Mediterranean inspired menu relies on the 12-foot open concept hearth, where fires are ablaze and the force for cooking their dishes. It’s a shame, as from our patio vantage point, we couldn’t see it. Babel did try to make up for it by putting two blazing torches on the patio. They are beautiful, adding much needed light to the dark parking lot and an element of ambiance, but they’re more for décor as they don’t release much heat for warming.

Yet, their staff did everything they could to make us feel comfortable and welcomed. First, moving the table from the patio and onto the walkway beside the restaurant to give us more light and blocking some of the wind. The “heating lamp” was pushed as closely as possible; a second one later added until the other reservation for the night arrived. A fuel warmer, something you’d normally use under chafing dishes, was brought out to warm our hands. Pots of boiling water were substituted to the ice variety to warm us from the inside. They really tried to go above and beyond, which certainly helped as despite the frigid temperatures we stayed for two hours and didn’t want the evening to end.

With the dishes made with fire being marketed as a specialty to the restaurant, we had to try a couple. The smoked charred eggplant ($13) is a beautiful plate: the eggplant smeared into a thin layer and topped with pistachios, pomegranate, and edible flowers; drizzles of tahini and date molasses giving it tons of flavour with each bite. While more interesting than the typical dips, the delicate creamy eggplant does get covered with all the other ingredients, so if you really want the flavours of the vegetable, perhaps try the stuffed eggplant instead.

The beef tenderloin kebab ($30) arrives more done than we hoped – closer to medium well compared to the medium rareness described – but likely due to the hot metal cooking skewer being left in the kebab to help retain the heat longer. No harm done as being a tenderloin cut, the beef remained tender anyways. With the beef sitting on the pilaf, the rice becomes well seasoned with the juices soaking into the grains.

Both fire-cooked dishes were good, but so were the deep-fried falafels ($9), a green harissa mixed into the batter giving it lovely green hue and more flavour. Crispy outside and fluffy on the inside this is exactly what falafels should taste like.

They go nicely with the fattoush meets Caesar ($14), a salad that’s exactly as described: take charred romaine and drizzle it with a light Ceasar dressing and some of the ingredients typically found on the salad (parmigiano and filets of anchovies) and augment with other things found in fattoush – cucumbers, tomato, onions, and of course, crunchy pita bits. While it didn’t look overly exciting, it ended up being a decent salad.

We would have liked to see more chicken and less chickpeas in the shawarma ($17), a strange addition making the hand-held even messier to eat. After having shawarma in Dubai, I realize they are best kept simple: tons of chicken, a little bit of lettuce and pickles for crunch, and just enough garlic sauce and tahini for flavour but not to soak the bread. Babel’s probably looks better but is cumbersome to eat, especially when it’s served in a halved pita rather than in a chewy wrap. I’d also reduce the seasoning on the fries, as they were salty even for a person who likes things flavourful.

Truth be told, some of my favourite dishes of the night doesn’t even sound Mediterranean. The Babel wings ($17) was a perfect patio eat, the sole dish that arrived and stayed piping hot. We literally could see the steam being emitted from the wings as we bit into them. And the dry spice rub coating the skin was fantastic – slightly sweet but also bursting with other flavours like sumac enhanced with earthier tones.

The chef had to substitute tagliatelle in the spaghetti aglio e olio ($23), which was fine by me and perhaps worked even better to capture all the oil-based sauce. This was dish that gets cold quickly, but even warm was delicious, the pasta done nicely and just flavourful enough without being overly garlicky. The shrimp were also cooked perfectly and there was plenty of it with the pasta.

Can I have a knafeh ($10) to end? Of course! A thin layer of cheese sat on the bottom, enough to have the toasted crispy vermicelli stick to it with hazelnut and pistachio pieces sprinkled on top. There was just enough cinnamon syrup for sweetness but not to soak into the dessert. It’s one of the lighter renditions of the dish I’ve had. Normally, a small wedge of the dessert is all I can stomach; at Babel, I probably could have eaten it entirely.

Maybe it has something to do with eating outside in the cold, our bodies are burning so many calories just to keep us warm through the ordeal. At least that’s what I tell myself – dining in the cold will help work off all the fried food and carbs I just ingested (those who understand science and nutrition, don’t bother correcting me). Plus, the experience made me feel like a real Canadian. I may not ski, but I can eat in the cold. 

Overall mark - 8 out of 10


How To Find Them
 Location: Toronto, Canada
 Address: 305 York Mills Road

Follow me on twitter to chat, be notified about new posts and more - https://twitter.com/GastroWorldBlog
____________________________
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!

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Raku (Toronto)


Right after my first bite of Raku’s udon noodles, I knew I would be back within a month. It didn’t matter that summer was approaching or that the appetizers were merely satisfactory, that bowl of hot comforting broth and silky chewy noodles was something special.

For my first visit, I kept it simple with the nameko ($16) where it arrives with a clear refreshing broth that’s still richly flavoured so it’s like you’re sipping on consommé. The bits of delicate Nagasaki nameko mushrooms were perfectly paired with the soup and I finished it to the last drop.


Adding on a poached egg ($2), it arrives on the side to keep it from cooking more but also means it’s absolutely cold. I threw it back into the hot soup to attempt to warm it up a bit, but at least it was done quite nicely where the insides were solid but still has a bit of runniness to it.


But, it’s the noodles… oh that udon … that makes me realize I should have added an extra serving to the bowl ($3). While most udon is cylindrical, these are oval. Maybe it’s something to do with this slightly flattened shape, but it has such a lovely silky texture while still incorporating a chewiness that’s retained to the last bite.


The broth is also amazing and what makes Raku different is that with so many options, the soup actually varies as well. Having a sip of my friend’s bowl, the niku ($20) is salty and beefy complementing the short ribs and tripe. It’s one you’ll like if you enjoy Shanghai braised beef noodles.

On a follow-up visit, I went completely in the other direction with the kani ankake ($26) where the broth is made of a thickened egg drop soup with pieces of crab strewn throughout. It’s a bowl for those who are sensitive to salt as I found it much blander than the other soups. I was really hoping for something savoury but all the toppings – spinach, scallions, and even the crab – were also rather tepidly flavoured.


Maybe it was the mochi ($4) I added to the bowl… it just sounded so intriguing that I had to try it! The two large rectangles of rice cake were soft and sticky, but really doesn’t go with this soup. I can see it working really well with the tan tan noodles: topping one of the cubes with my friend’s spicy miso pork really helped to give it a much needed saltiness.


Raku also offers a great selection of appetizers to tide you over as the noodles arrive. Of course, there’s the traditional gyozas ($8). The wrapper is nice and thin and arrives with a lovely crust. However, both the vegetable and pork ones are too delicate for my liking. The vegetable filling is made from micro finely shredded vegetables that would be better if they incorporated some meaty mushrooms. Meanwhile, the pork was forgettable and needed something (chives or scallions) to give it pizzazz.


Truthfully, it could be the ordering of the apps, since after having a piece of the chewy smoked atsugiri bacon ($8) anything could taste bland. While at first I thought it was strange to eat… literally, it’s thick slivers of well roasted slightly sweet bacon. Washing it down with a sip of Sapporo I understand the appeal – it goes remarkably well with the bubbly cold bitterness of beer.


For something lighter, their chicken tatsuta-age ($8) is very lightly battered, a bit crispy, but mostly juicy and tender. Or opt for cubes of agedashi tofu ($7), which are so light and pillowy that it almost feels like having a savoury marshmallow. It could use a bit more textual contrast as the generous layer of bonito flakes are also quite soft. At least it’s well flavoured sitting in plenty of sweet soy and garnished with scallions.


The yaki nasu ($8) is such an interesting starter: a thick slice of eggplant with a raw quail egg on top. Slice into the soft vegetable to allow the egg to meld into the hot eggplant and and spicy miso pork in the centre. This appetizer was not what I expected from deep fried eggplant, but delicious and really grew on me with each bite.


Raku continues to intrigue and delight with each visit. With their extensive menu, I feel like there’s still so many things to try. Will I ever get to the don buri or cold udon?! Those will be a hard, as their bowls of steaming chewy noodles are just way too delicious to pass up. 

Overall mark - 9 out of 10


How To Find Them
 Location: Toronto, Canada
 Address: 456 Queen Street West
 Website: http://rakunyc.com/

Follow me on twitter to chat, be notified about new posts and more - https://twitter.com/GastroWorldBlog
____________________________
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!

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Selam Vegan Restaurant (Toronto)


Walk too quickly and you’ll like breeze by Selam as it occupies the basement of Pero restaurant. The only telltale sign of their shared space is their small signage by the door. Like its sister restaurant, Selam offers Ethiopian cuisine, except their menu is entirely vegan and most things are also gluten free, which makes the restaurant an excellent choice for dining with a group with varying dietary restrictions.

Although there are options to build your own platter, with larger groups, sharing family style is a fresher alternative. Amongst our table of six people, we shared seven items are were stuffed. As a lover of split pea soup, Selam’s version of the main was thicker ($10) and oh so hearty. Enhanced with a bit of curry and turmeric, the spices were lightly added more for colour and a depth in flavour.


For a bit of heat, the spicy eggplant ($10) and red lentil ($12) were both great choices – the latter having the most kick. Maybe it’s me, but I always love a good stewed eggplant, especially when it gets nice and soft and soaks in all the fragrant spices. It just goes so well with the injera ($3 for three pieces) as the sauce gets trapped in the spongy crevices or spooned over plain white rice ($3).


For something interesting, try the flax firfir ($10), which mixes flax seed with gluten free injera to form a dish that’s not saucy but rather eats like a savoury bread pudding. It’s an acquired taste - our table was split on its tastiness.  


With all the heavier stews, orders of the kale ($10) with garlic and ginger and okra ($12) with green onions and chili flakes were perfect to help add some crunch and freshness to an otherwise hearty meal. Selam’s kale is definitely not boring and chopped so finely that you can mix it into some of the saucier dishes to change the texture.


You definitely need a bunch of choices to keep the meal interesting. Rest assured, with smaller tables, Selam offers combination plates mixing 3 or 4 items or there’s also a $18 buffet, which has almost all the items from the menu.


While Selam’s food was tasty, the basement jazz club atmosphere was a bit strange. Moreover, while I understand their desire to showcase Ethiopian coffee, as the roasting beans were brought around, the low ceiling dining room filled with smoke and a nauseatingly strong smell of frankincense.  It’s a smell that just sticks and lingers, detracting from the otherwise delicious meal. In my opinion, skip the beans, and bring on the eggplant.

Overall mark - 6.5 out of 10


How To Find Them
 Location: Toronto, Canada
 Address: 812 Bloor Street West (basement)

Follow me on twitter to chat, be notified about new posts and more - https://twitter.com/GastroWorldBlog
____________________________
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!

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Prime on Avenue (Toronto)


Kosher steakhouses are rare in Toronto. So, when the legendary Barberian opened Prime of Avenue, a Cor certified kosher eatery, along the suburb stretch of uptown Toronto, it’s large gleaming black sign and swanky interior certainly caught my attention. Just be mindful of their operating hours: in keeping with Shabbat customs, Prime is closed on Friday and Saturday, days that are generally busy days for other restaurants.

Their page of appetizers enticed; indeed, diners can easily mix-and-match these smaller plates to make a full meal. The pulled brisket tacos ($26) are ideal if you’re in the mood for beef but in smaller portions. Two flour shells were stuffed with chunks of flavourful and tender brisket, pico de gallo, guacamole and pickled onions. Pieces of smoked potato chips, placed on a top, were an excellent addition enhancing the otherwise soft savoury tacos with some crunch.


Although the eggplant ($20) sounded like a lighter dish, the roasted eggplant was roasted with so much oil that it became so crispy you’d swear it’s deep fried. Regardless, if you don’t mind the oiliness, the starter has fantastic flavours: the creamy eggplant layered with nutty tahini, crunchy pine nuts, and sweet pomegranate. These were all roasted together so the tahini was warm and the flavours melted into the eggplant.


With such a strong start to the meal, the execution of our main, a cote de boeuf ($85), was a letdown. At first glance, the huge 22oz bone-in rib steak looked impressive, with beautiful sear marks and a nicely caramelized surface. It was also a wise decision to share the main, as the actual bone was not overly thick so we were left with a substantial portion of beef. However, upon cutting through the “medium rare” steak, it’d be better classified as a poorly done blue. While the outer ring was seared and cooked through, the centre was very rare, to the point that it was difficult to cut through and I could smell and taste the rareness. Note to Prime: the metallic taste of half-cooked beef is awful and the slightly off smell is even worse.


Rarely do I return dishes to the kitchen, but in this instance it was inedible. Steak is only good when it’s prepared correctly, so I politely asked for it to be re-fired. In about 10 minutes it was returned and nicely re-plated. At that point, it was an actual medium rare steak. Sadly, even with it cooked correctly, it wasn’t great. The steak was barely seasoned and lacked flavour. Perhaps it’s because Prime provides sauce on the side and I should have told them I wouldn’t actually be using any of it. My personal preference is to keep it simple with a nice piece of meat – salt and pepper is all you need to avoid covering up the meat’s natural flavours. It was especially disappointing since Barberian is known for their great rub. Surely, this can be shared with Prime?   

Moreover, the 28 days aged Black Angus tasted pretty young - if that's the proper way to describe aged meats – and didn’t have that depth of flavour you’d expect from the cut. While it was still good, it was nowhere close to the Barberian fame; if I closed my eyes, I’d swear I’d be eating at the Keg.

Steaks do arrive with a small portion of bone marrow, which also needed more seasoning but was thankfully cooked through. It went nicely smeared on a piece of toasted baguette that comes with their complimentary bread and pickle starter, such a staple at traditional steakhouses. In an effort to reduce food waste, Prime should consider decreasing the portion size of the platter and simply ask diners if they’d like a re-fill if it’s been picked clean.


The sides ($10 each) were good, especially the onion rings, which were nice and chunky with a lovely crispy coating. The sautéed green beans, spinach, and swiss chard with scallions puree was a great combination and cooked nicely so the vegetables retained their freshness. Our table had mixed thoughts on the French fries. Generally, they’d be better if the potatoes were cut thinner and then double fried (as they weren’t overly crispy and tasted almost baked).


While Prime on Avenue doesn't tout itself as a steakhouse, its connection to Barberian can’t stop me from judging it as one. It makes the average cote de boeuf seem worse, which is such a shame as everything else was actually very tasty. Nonetheless, the restaurant is a welcomed addition to Avenue and I’ll likely return to try their burger, salmon, or perhaps a collection of appetizers. But, the steak, no thanks.  

Overall mark - 6.5 out of 10


How To Find Them
 Location: Toronto, Canada
 Address: 1960 Avenue Road

Follow me on twitter to chat, be notified about new posts and more - https://twitter.com/GastroWorldBlog
____________________________
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:



The Restaurant at Pearl Morissette (Jordan Station)


A day of sipping wine in the Twenty Bench region should end with some sustenance, why not a lovely dinner at The Restaurant at Pearl Morissette? Although Pearl Morissette is a winery, a low supply of wine means all tastings are cancelled “for the foreseeable future”, which means to try their wines you need to visit the restaurant.

One option is to add the wine pairing ($60) to your meal. Having already sampled a fair share already, I opted for two produced by the winery at dinner. To begin, a glass of the 2016 Cuvée Roselana ($11 for 5oz), a vibrant red rosé that’s just as fruity to match, in an aromatic but not sweet manner. Even their 2014 Cuvée Madeline ($10.50 for 3oz), a cabernet franc, had big bursts of cherry notes that when combined with a savoury main calms down and mellows into a lovely finish. Pearl Morissette makes vibrant and easy drinking wines.


The meals are tasting menu only ($85 a person, inclusive of gratuities), which changes daily. Located in the Niagara Escarpment, it’s no surprise the dinner includes a lot of produce, showcasing the bounty from the local environment. The first dish, a braised eggplant, covered with plum slices, fig leaves, and basil is the sexiest eggplant I’ve ever seen (no emoji pun intended). While the eggplant’s flesh looked white, the texture was soft and creamy accentuated with bursts of floral, sweetness, and licorice (a flavour I’m not normally a fan of but somehow works in the dish).


After all the wine tasting, I was ecstatic to see the wedge of crusty sourdough bread, served warm with a side of butter. Pearl Morissette mixes corn meal into the dough so the bread has that sponginess of sourdough but a wonderful sweetness as well.


A palm-sized bean tartlet continues the meal. On the bottom, a creamy and tangy chevre goat cheese topped with diced butter beans that adds a lovely crunch against the thin buttery tart shell. Give me more!


A scallop is lightly warmed and cubed amongst a Doe Hill pepper purée, which is surprisingly flavourful... to the point that it covers the delicate scallop. Learning more about the pepper, it’s described as very sweet. For me there was a slight bitterness mixed with a rich capsicum flavour, which pairs nicely with the sweet corn but less so with the seafood. Personally, I enjoyed the scallops plain with flecks of marigold petals.


While I don’t mind the scallop undercooked, the grilled hand-caught line cod was too rare. The outer edges were fine, flaking away and cooked through, but the thicker section had a slightly gummy texture and fishy essence – it needed another minute on the grill. Maybe if the accompaniments were stronger the fishy taste could be covered, but the tomato juice and razor clam broth were so light that couldn’t mask the undercooked fish. The best part of the dish was the freshly picked tomatoes, simply amazing. Oh, the bounty of Niagara!


While the first half of the meal was light and summery, the following wild mushrooms was a nice progression towards the main. I can see why the lobster mushroom gets its name with the red outer skin and the inside being white. Moreover, it even has a meaty texture and slight seafood essence. Along with black trumpet mushrooms, they are tossed with a bread miso so the dish has an Asian flair with a hint of smokiness.


I urge the chefs to rethink the crumble topping in the mushrooms as it adds a grainy texture to the dish, so it feels like you’re eating sandy fungi. Moreover, the dish would have benefited from a grain (like barley or a parsnip/potato puree) as it was too salty on its own. As a plus, it went wonderfully with the Cabernet Franc, the earthiness tempering the cherry notes of the wine.

Two pieces of roasted rib of beef ended the savoury courses. The Longhorn beef was wonderfully flavourful and delicious. I felt guilty that it was so enjoyable; just moments before the dish arrive I  watching two calves in the field, nuzzling each other and play fighting. Even the vegetables were fantastic: pan fried zucchini that had a lovely caramelized crust on the cut end and just cooked through retaining a crunchy texture; and lightly pickled onions that kept the meaty main bright.


The first dessert acted as a palette cleanser, a rich strawberry sorbet with a tart sweet grass sabayon that’s surprisingly light for something made with egg yolks. It’s a dish with many tastes and textures as sitting on the bottom were salted strawberry pieces dotted with herb oil.  


A goat cheesecake followed for a richer dessert, flavoured with blueberries that were plump and sweet. A side of goat cheese verbena granite added a cool element. 


After the cheesecake, we thought the meal was over - at this point, we were satisfied but not stuffed. Then two freshly baked shortbread arrive, still hot so the butter is melted throughout creating a cookie with crunchy edges but a sinfully soft centre, with peach preserve and spicebush giving it flavour. If it weren’t rich enough, a side of butter is given – great for those who like a salty and sweet combination.


Twenty Bench is such a tranquil environment that you can’t help but be present and in the moment. At Pearl Morissette there’s so much wildlife surrounding the winery: the ducks in the pond kept us entertained – the baby ones diligently swimming and so cute that it’s hard to look away. The elevated dining room with the large windows creates such an airy environment that you almost feel like you’re eating outdoors, with the benefit of central heating and cooling.

The two hours just flew by, I couldn’t believe the meal came to an end. During late August/early September, don’t be afraid of the cannon/gunshot sounds that pierce through the air every few minutes. It’s simply compressed air used to deter birds from eating the ripe grapes. I just don’t know about the effectiveness of the machine, it certainly didn’t scare away the ducks, those little fellows could swim forever. 

Overall mark - 8 out of 10


How To Find Them
 Location: Jordan Station, Canada
 Address: 3953 Jordan Road

Follow me on twitter to chat, be notified about new posts and more - https://twitter.com/GastroWorldBlog
____________________________
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: