Showing posts with label halibut. Show all posts
Showing posts with label halibut. Show all posts

Pluvio (Ucluelet)


Pluvio is in Ucluelet, an eerily calm town about a 20-minute drive from Tofino, and had we not used GPS to find the restaurant, we might have driven by the quiet street the inn and restaurant was located on. In fact, we were able to park right out front despite securing a prime dinner reservation. A win for Ukee!

With a choice of a five-course chef’s menu and three-course prix fixe, we opted for the select your own three-course option ($88) because sometimes it’s nice to have a bit of choice. The meal started with three crispy one bite wonders: a puffed cracker with a smoked fish (?) creamy topping, a delicate lattice leaf chip and refreshing chive dip, and little nests filled with a delicious meaty filling that had me wondering if anyone would notice if I swiped another one from the open kitchen near us. 


After being talked down by my friends, I focused instead of the wine and conversation and soon the first course arrived. Before getting into the dishes, we noticed that food tends to be overly seasoned in BC. Perhaps it’s due to their proximity to salt water, but we found that 80% of the things served were a little saltier than we’d like. And this was true for Pluvio’s dishes, so if you prefer things a little less seasoned, I’d suggest letting them know while ordering.

The cubes of torched sablefish were wonderfully prepared but overpowered by the strong pickled radish and poached apples that surrounded the black cod. Still, the colours did make for an artistic creation adorned with crispy butterflies and translucent fruit flowers. It’s a dish that is best eaten with the eyes. 


If the sablefish was a dish signifying spring, the polenta would pay homage to the cooler months. A surf and turf moat made from side stripe shrimp and lamb sausage surrounded the creamy luscious polenta. The strips of sausage being removed from the casing, flattened, and grilled almost had a steak-like quality to it and made for an interesting protein. Everything worked well together, especially when combined with the dollop of mint purée. 


Smartly, Pluvio serves their bread after the first course to discourage guests from filling up before the mains. Perhaps they should sandwich the bread before dessert as I still couldn’t contain my excitement and dug into the fresh crusty country bread and corn bread. Why oh why is it so difficult to keep away from the carbs?! 


Luckily, I still had room for the hefty piece of confit halibut swimming in a creamy corn and toasted yeast beurre blanc that provided a light but decadent sauce against the meaty fish. The sauce was also great for dipping the crispy chips, which shielded the skinless poached cherry tomatoes. With the halibut, I added three grilled scallops ($12) because as the menu describes, everything is better with scallops, especially when they are cooked wonderfully. 


Pluvio’s desserts are described as “forest”, “field”, and “sea”.  Neither were spectacular and if I could choose, I would have simply wanted the green spruce sponge cake from the forest served with a side of the cold lemon semifreddo of the field. 


In general, I’d stick with the land desserts as the “sea” was way too citrusy from the sea buckthorn caramel and the hard pieces of sponge too sweet when paired with the chocolate crémeux. In fact, if I could have a do over, I’d stick with the cheese plate as you can’t really go wrong with cheese (except if you’re lactose intolerant, I guess). 


Pluvio presents a “search” for your own chocolate truffle box to end, which may stump a baby but made us feel like geniuses. It was a sweet gesture, but after the filling meal the large truffles were too rich. 


Maybe a search for a fruit jelly would work better? Or they could have hidden another one of those meaty nests that were found in the earlier snacks … for me, that would have been such an amazing surprise to find.  

Overall mark - 7 out of 10


How To Find Them
 Location: Ucluelet, Canada
 Address: 1714 Peninsula Road


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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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Great Room @ The Long Beach Lodge Resort (Tofino)


My expectation for hotel restaurants is guarded – they’re generally adequate but rarely outstanding and tend to be overpriced. Still, after a long drive into Tofino from Victoria, all we wanted to do was take in the beach, eat, and go back to our lovely quaint cottage at the Long Beach Resort. Food wasn’t a top priority; we took what we could get in terms of a last-minute reservation at the Great Room restaurant situated in the resort.

Then a plate of beef tartare ($21) was presented and one bite in I knew the Great Room would impress. The steak was cut into perfectly sized pieces that were small enough to let the condiments permeate the meat but not become a minced meat texture. The seasonings, despite the variety of herbs, sauces, and shavings worked together and didn’t detract from the vibrant high quality olive oil. The dish was great, but their service could rise a notch if someone warned the kitchen we were a four-top, so that they could adjust the appetizer to include eight crostini to make it easier to share. 


Our dinner at Long Beach kicked off consecutive days of eating halibut and their halibut for two ($89) was one of the better versions we sampled. The fish was cooked until flaky and properly seasoned, not an easy feat for such a large thick piece of meat. The platter could have fed three people with all the sides that was included: smoked kelp butter roasted potatoes (tasty but could be cooked longer to create a crispy crust) and kelp and cabbage coleslaw (the kelp creates a unique twist and was cleaned well so that it was refreshing against the meaty halibut). 


I was thoroughly impressed with the well caramelized crust on the scallops ($43), which didn’t leave the shellfish overcooked. You won’t leave the Great Room hungry as the dish included a hefty portion of the charred corn risotto and six sizeable scallops. For the risotto, the kitchen uses corn in lieu of butter and cheese so while the grains seem decadent it wasn’t heavy. My friend and I agreed that while we love corn, it did start to overpower the dish so a bit more rice wouldn’t hurt. 


We ended up having such a great meal that we stayed longer at the Great Room, transitioning to the couches by the fireplace to converse rather than going back to our cottage. A wonderful way to start the Tofino trip and to allow us to take in the beach from a comfortable and dry space. 

Overall mark - 8 out of 10


How To Find Them
 Location: Tofino, Canada
 Address: 1441 Pacific Rim Hwy


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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!


Is That It? I Want More!

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Wolf in the Fog (Tofino)

When you visit Wolf in the Fog’s ‘About’ section on their website, the first write-up focuses on Tofino rather than on the chef or the restaurant. The “Who” comes afterwards, briefly speaking to the pack that leads the restaurant’s kitchen, front of the house, and bar. They don’t brag about being named Canada’s best restaurant by Enroute in 2014 or its current seat on Canada’s 100 Best (#48). Their laid-back attitude is likely a microcosm of being in Tofino, where everyone I met is so friendly and seemed to genuinely just love life.

It's hard to miss Wolf in the Fog’s two-floor building with its prominent location in the middle of downtown Tofino. The restaurant creates a great atmosphere, especially if you’re seated on the second floor, near the window and can also take in the view of Tofino’s harbour.

One glimpse of the glistening bar and I knew it would be a cocktail night for me. And with their ever-changing bar menu, it’s certainly an area they are focused on. The cockatiel ($16) sported a whimsical crest of citrus feathers and was refreshingly light compared to the stronger cedar sours that my friends ordered.

Thanks to a suggestion from our waiter, two of the sides acted as a great starter: spot prawns and garlic bread. The prawns ($18) swam in a garlicky butter and with the delicate shrimp deshelled, they were ready to snack on like a fancy popcorn shrimp. Its suggested pairing with garlic bread ($8) was unnecessary as between the bread and butter became too garlicky overtaking the sweetness of the prawn. Instead, I opted to have the shrimp first and saved the bread for dipping into the sauce. Trust me, you’ll still want a serving of the carbs, which was like a fluffy focaccia with crispy edges and plenty of shaved Parmesan on top.

The tornado rolls inspired presentation of the potato crusted oysters ($19 for 3) was unexpected, but a safe preparation for those who are squeamish of raw oysters. And since the shellfish was smoked, the dish seemed like it incorporated bacon despite not having any meat. Seriously, if I hadn’t seen the menu, I would have thought I was popping a bacon wrapped scallop tornado roll into my mouth.

We stuck with seafood even for the mains. The baked Tofino halibut ($48) was cooked well, although I could have done without the crispy breadcrumbs as it made the fish gritty. The accompanying gnocchi were a great chewy and soft consistency, smothered in a delicious zesty marinara mixed with chili and tapenade butter. While I’m not sure the gnocchi went particularly well with the halibut, each element was great on its own.

Although the pork belly in the Thai pork belly and clams ($38) could be softer, it was still tasty especially dipped in the yellow curry. As for the clams, despite being sizeable, the curry did cover its natural flavours but the shellfish itself was cooked nicely. Overall, I can’t help but think the dish is missing a fresh element. The sliver of bok choy was a start, but another herb or vegetable would have really pulled everything together.

We were blessed with a huge slice of the Basque cheesecake ($14) to finish. Given its height, I wasn’t surprised the cake’s texture was fluffy and light. Call me suspicious, but the burnt finishing seems too perfect… almost like it was blowtorched rather than baked. Previous Basque cakes I’ve had were marked by cracks and bulges, Wolf in the Fog’s cake was so nice and smooth.

Cakegate aside, I thoroughly enjoyed the dessert, but could have done without the overly tart fruit preserve and crunchy almond clusters. When the cake is good just leave it alone. When in doubt, keep things natural like Tofino. 


Overall mark - 7 out of 10


How To Find Them
 Location: Tofino, Canada
 Address: 150 Fourth Street


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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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Orote (Toronto)


There's something about a tasting menu that gives me a thrill - it's oddly freeing to detach myself from decisions and just be ready to experience. Almost like a rollercoaster for eating where I strap myself in for a ride and hope the track is enjoyable.

Orote presents a six-course menu ($78) where there are some decisions: a choice of main course  and whether you want any of the supplementary ingredients and courses. It's not overly exhaustive, I settled on the fish and as a table we decided to add on everything we could. Let the ride begin.

It starts off slowly, as we made our way up the dinner hill. The thinly sliced pork belly with boiled daikon and pickled parrilla leaves is a dish that's better as a whole than each of the individual parts. Yet, the kitchen needs to work on balance: there's too much parrilla so the acidity overwhelms the delicate pork belly and the chunk of irregularly cut daikon makes it really difficult to create a roll. If these ingredients were smaller, the diner would have a better opportunity to taste the paper-thin pork belly and its dusting of savoury shrimp powder. 


We begin to pick up steam when the skewer of lobster and pumpkin robata arrives. It was fantastic, each bite augmented with black garlic and bits of walnut. The spices and grilled preparation gives the lobster such a unique taste that I couldn't register the protein during the first bite, wow was it meaty. 


As we make our way to the top of the plunge, I'm momentarily skeptical of the "salad" course... there's an awfully large portion of what looks like unadorned leafy greens. We're told to make sure to dig to the bottom where we'll find poached mussels and a wonderful consommé. All in all, I didn't mind the  leafy greens and sticks of daikon, it made for a nice cleanser between the grilled lobster and the following dumplings. I just wish the greens were quickly blanched so it wouldn't cause the rest of the dish to cool down so much. Make sure you get every drop of the lovely soup. 


I was thrilled with the two plump mushroom and tofu dumplings. On its own it may seem a bit plain, but as I broke them apart and had bits of it with the bonito dashi, it was delicious. If there's one thing Orote does well it's their soups - they seriously should consider having a larger soup course. For this dish we added shaved truffle ($10) but it didn't make that much of a difference. Give me an extra bowl of dashi any day. 


For the main, I opted for halibut, a nice thick meaty piece that was cooked superbly. It just needed more seasoning - there was so much sesame sauce on top of the fish, yet it added more of a creamy texture than flavour. Even the broth served with the halibut wasn't as strong as the previous dishes. All in all, the main was fine, but not overly exciting. 


Had I known, I would have gone with the pork loin, which was way more flavourful and tasty. The pickled kale made me think of the dish as a lighter and less greasy form of braised pork belly with preserved vegetables, the Hakka mu choy cow yok (from the Cantonese dialect). The pork also went better with the bowl of miso yolk rice ($4), which I forgot to take a picture, but imagine a bowl of steamed sticky rice topped with shaved egg yolk and way too many green onions. 


The shared add-on dishes were sprinkled throughout the ride. Orote's chicken ssam ($12) consists of large mounds of cold shredded chicken topped with a slice of daikon. You can't really wrap it up like bo ssam, so it is slightly strange the dish is named chicken "wrap". I recommend including some of the pickled greens on the side: it would give the chicken more flavour and would provide diners with ingredients to make chicken ssam two ways.


If you're sensitive to salt, Orote is actually a great place to dine at as even the truffle rice cake and perilla seed ($25), described to us as a really creamy rich dish, wasn't overly heavy or powerful. Sure, the sauce was thicker compared to the broth that adorned other dishes, but it wasn't creamy in the traditional sinful sense. If anything, the best part of the dish wasn't it's "creaminess", truffle shavings, or the perilla seeds... it was the soft chewy pieces of rice cake.


Overall, the ride ended on a high: I thoroughly enjoyed the barley cream dessert, which is like a really fluffy panna cotta topped with finely grated chocolate shavings, puffed buckwheat, and black sesame. Creamy and light, it had a great texture that I wanted to savour, yet also wished I could just pop half of it into my mouth and allow the delicate sweetness to flood my taste buds.


The newly opened Orote offers a wonderful tasting option for those who are looking for a healthier meal that doesn't leave you feel stuffed and heavy. I can certainly see Actinolite's influences in Chef Kwangtaek Lee's menu. Though I urge Chef Lee to consider bringing in even more of his Korean influences into the dishes, especially in the mains and add-ons to really give it some pizzazz. As it stands, Orote is nice and solid, but there's the potential to make it really thrilling. 

Overall mark - 7 out of 10


How To Find Them
 Location: Toronto, Canada
 Address: 276 Havelock Street


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!


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Auberge Du Pommier Revisited in 2017 (Toronto)


After a positive and negative experience at Auberge du Pommier a couple years back, a return visit was in order to see if the exemplary service continues. Glancing into the private event room at the entrance, there wasn’t an occasion on the Friday night visit, good news for us already. We were greeted promptly at the door and shown to the table right away. Service was attentive and unhurried, what you’d imagine a fine dining restaurant to exude.

With spring came a lighter menu. The poured-at-table bouillabaisse ($24) was thick and silky, with an ingenious addition of crispy ginger for an expected zip. The actual seafood was surprisingly scant but well prepared: pieces of barely cooked Fogo Island cod, sweet flakes of crab, delicate mussels, and a couple of sweet petite shrimp. The piece of toasted pita with saffron aioli on top was a tad dry, I just stuck with the delicious baguettes that arrive with the bread basket instead.


For those who like cheese and fruit combinations, the camembert royale ($22) is an interesting appetizer - half a baked apple stuffed with a creamy camembert custard gives the dish a sweet, savoury, and tart combination. Adorned with asparagus, artichokes and black truffle, the starter has a light but rich quality.


While the homard thermidor ($55) was barbecued, the lobster wasn’t overly smoky. Additionally, despite incorporating a variety of aromatic ingredients such as leeks, morels, Dijon Mornay and hollandaise, it didn’t feel overdone and you could still taste the plump crustacean. Typically, this dish is part of their tasting menu, but you’re advised every dish can also be ordered a la carte. In this instance, Auberge should consider augmenting the sides as the lobster really didn’t feel like a main with the meagre spears of asparagus and cubes of potato.


The fletan ($45), part of their a la carte menu, was a more fulsome dish. The butter-poached halibut was a hefty portion and cooked wonderfully so it remained moist and meaty. Aside from the fish there were so many other elements: a beautiful garlicky razor clam; a tasty but overcooked tomato spätzle that went surprisingly well with everything; and a buttery gasconne sauce that paired wonderfully with the fish. All the flavours were great with the halibut, which is normally such a neutral fish.


None of the desserts were enticing so we stuck with the tried and true cheese course, which arrives with plenty of crostini, a berry compote, and cube of sweet sticky honeycomb. 



Choosing three French cheeses ($18), the selection had various firmness for interest: a soft Brillat-Savarin, a triple cream cow's milk cheese from Normandy that simply melted on the tongue; a semi-hard abondance that's stronger, but still not overpowering from Haute-Savoie; and the firmer comté that has an interesting almost spicy finish to it. The generous portions of each were perfect for sharing amongst two.  


The petit four selection, arriving with the bill, is such a satisfying finish. The soft and fudgy chocolate macaron was delicious, the lemon poppy seed madeleine decent, and a chocolate truffle with a crisp shell that breaks a part to release a whipped ganache with the consistency of butter cream frosting. Tasty to the last bite.


I’m glad to see Auberge’s service level hasn’t faltered. In fact, staff were so friendly that I couldn’t help but watch interactions between a waiter and table of three older women beside us. As they were having difficulties reading the menus in the dim lighting, being tech savvy they took out their phones and shone the screens on the menu. Seeing this, the waiter introduced them to the flashlight function, much to their delight. He took the time to show each of them how to use it and later when they stopped him again, he helped them navigate to the light once again. A great above and beyond example, demonstrating why Auberge continues to impress.

Overall mark - 8 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 - 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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Auberge du Pommier Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Mark Greenaway (Edinburgh)

Location: Edinburgh, Scotland
Address: 69 North Castle Street
Website: www.markgreenaway.com
Type of Meal: Dinner 



Mark Greenaway’s surroundings were simple but comfortable and the dining room held a surprising number of tables for the small location.  My only suggestion, for the next revamp, is to change the chairs. They are simply not practical for anyone with a purse with its holes in the back and rounded backing (nothing to hang your purse from); alas, mine had to sit on the ground.  Additionally, they were not that comfortable which may be a downfall for patrons ordering the 8-course tasting menu whom would need to sit for a while.  Luckily, we were just popping by for a quick dinner so they were good enough for us.

Soon after ordering we were brought an amuse bouche of sage and pumpkin foam with toasted pumpkin seeds.  I find pure foam starters to be a hit and miss, but Mark Greenaway's version was delicious with the fragrant warm foam set against the nuttiness of the pumpkin seeds.  The dish had a richness to it making it taste like lobster bisque (I know a bit strange for pumpkin) and proved to be a great start.

After the amuse bouche, I was expecting bread to be brought out as a large disk of butter sat on the white linens.  Surprisingly, it did not and instead my appetizer arrived first. Rather, the bread is served between the appetizer and main which is certainly unconventional, but perhaps saves you from filling up?  

The spelt risotto (£7) was beautifully presented with a deep yellow sauce set against the brown grains of spelt.  If you like cheese, this would be a great option as there’s plenty of it – a layer on the bottom of the plate, four croquettes of fried cheese included and a generous shaving of parmesan on top.  Indeed, the croquettes were crispy, hot and delicious an unexpected treat on an already rich dish. But, the risotto itself was a bit hard for my taste. Of course, I realize the barley and spelt based risottos generally have a harder shell so has more of a bite, but these grains hadn't split at all so it just tasted like I was eating kernels of grain in a cheese sauce. Perhaps if they were cooked a bit more or mixed in some rice the dish would have been better as the flavours were certainly there.

My main of halibut (£24) was cooked well and another colourful presentation.  Although it was good, I found the protein to be overshadowed by the pickled vegetable garnishes accompanying the main which were so vibrant in flavour.  Every time I had a taste of the vegetables and then went back to the fish, the halibut tasted really bland.  Now, this isn’t necessarily bad as there is some contrast, but just seems to be a shame that the main part of the dish gets lost. It was served with a lemongrass foam but found this didn't add much in terms of flavour. 

The black rectangle on the fish is actually a piece of squid ink pasta; a bit mushy and not flavourful at all which is strange as squid ink tends to offer such a distinct aroma.  The highlight of the dish, for me, was two slices of carrots which were wrapped around chopped up pieces of either fish or scallop with micro dices of pickled radish.  These garnishes were such a great combination of tartness and silkiness of seafood that I wish there was more of them.

The pan roasted hake fillet (£21) that my husband ordered was definitely the better dish of the two and exhibited a fusion of Asian and French flavours. It had the flavourful crispy skin, which I adore with a piece of plain fish, surrounded by a fragrant sesame ginger broth.  A side of purple mash included was smooth and had an interesting potato flavour mixed with what seemed like black sesame and red bean.  Topping the fish was a lobster tagliatelle made into a dumpling form - sadly my husband polished this before I had a taste.

Normally, I am not a big dessert fan but heard about their peanut butter cheesecake (£7.50) and had to try it.  The dessert consisted of layers of pressed peanut butter and smooth cheese cake piped between peanut butter sheets.  A large piece of dark chocolate peanut bark topped everything and had a hint of saltiness giving the cake a sweet and savoury aspect to it but not overwhelmingly so.  

As if this were not enough a warm syrupy caramel sauce is brought to the table and poured around the cake itself adding such a delicious buttery toffee taste to everything.  Thankfully, the sauce wasn't too sweet and was just enough to complement the already decadent dessert.  A white log decorates the cake and at first we put it to the side thinking it was a regular run of the milk while chocolate cylinder.  When we finally tasted it we were delighted to find it ice cold and creamy in texture going so well with the warm sauce.  I believe it might have been a frozen white chocolate gouache?  This dessert was absolutely delicious and worth all the hype it receives.  During our visit, it wasn't on the regular menu and only offered as part of the market menu.  Thankfully, the chef was accommodating and made it for us anyways.  Mr. Greenaway, put it back on your menu!

Perhaps it was due to our late seating and there were no other diners around, but the staff were extremely friendly and helpful, not only taking the time to chat with us but explain some facts of Scotland to us.  Overall, the experience was a great one and Mark Greenaway is worth a visit. They also offer a great deal with the special market menu, available from 5:30-6:45 offering 2 courses for £16.50 or 3 courses for £20.

Overall mark - 8.5 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!




Actinolite (Toronto)

Location: Toronto, Canada
Address: 971 Ossington Avenue
Website: http://actinoliterestaurant.com/
Type of Meal: Dinner



Actinolite is what I'd imagine Noma to be like - except with a focus on Canadian ingredients and much friendlier on the wallet. Like many restaurants they use local suppliers but gone one step further by starting their own garden. Controlling their food source allows them to strive for peak freshness by picking ingredients right before serving. What they don't grow and buy, they forage from the town of Actinolite (as noted on their website). Somehow knowing that their forging happens outside of the city was a relief as the thought of eating vegetation out of the Don River (which may be perfectly safe) was a bit alarming. 

There are two menus available, the 7-course Chef ($85) or a 4-course summary ($55). The summary menu offers larger plate sizes, so you won’t be starving afterwards, but does mean you’ll miss three of the dishes. During our dinner summary diners would have missed out on the radish, squid and egg ones - the biggest loss being the egg dish which was a favourite of my husband and I. Wine pairings are an additional $65 and $40, for the Chef and summary menus, respectively.

We decided to go with the Chef’s menu which true to form was seven courses. There are no amuse dishes at Actinolite, just a slice of sourdough bread with olive oil. At least it's really good sourdough; crunchy exterior, soft interior and enough salt within the dough that you could eat it plain. 

The first radish and carrots course was supposed to resemble a garden with halved vegetables served with soil butter, crunchy grass salt and other crunchy bits. Soil appears to be the up and coming ingredient that's growing in popularity worldwide and noted for its mineral properties. Luckily, at Actinolite the soil is incorporated with whipped butter and light tasting, so much so that it's unclear if real soil is actually used as there was no grittiness at all. 



Next came four spears of the most scrumptiously grilled asparagus. We were advised it was cooked on a Big Green Egg, which my husband proceeded to explain is one of the best grills for temperature precision and its smoking properties. The asparagus was cooked through and hot yet still crunchy with a light smoky flavour. Served with a nettle puree (a relatively neutral flavour), cold thick sour cream and spruce flowers this was a wonderful dish.


Our waitress warned us the squid was chewy, and she certainly wasn’t wrong as I gnawed on it for a while. Undeniably, the squid’s texture wasn’t my favourite and personally would have preferred the addition of shrimp and fish so that it’d be more of a seafood salad and less rubbery. Nonetheless, it wasn’t a total miss as having been marinated in a tart vinaigrette and served cold the dish was refreshing. With juniper berries, olive oil and a flavourful wild ginger gelee we found it almost acted as a palette cleanser.


Eggs are a staple ingredient but when prepared well can also be luxurious. For this dish, Actinolite poached the egg slowly so that it arrives gooey and hot in the middle. Topped with light shavings of summer truffle (a very delicate flavour) and pops of onion from the chive blossoms it was a lovely egg. Simple wilted spinach surrounded it and helped mop up every drop of warm yolk that leaked out.


The halibut was perfectly cooked with a beautiful golden crust and tender meaty interior. I did find the watercress puree on the bottom overwhelming bitter and was taken aback at first. Luckily, it was served to the side so I could lift the fish off and enjoy the halibut by itself. An ingredient I’m starting to get tired of is foam; yes, it’s decorative but in most cases adds little to the dish itself. At Actinolite their foam was made with fish stock and what a genius idea as it actually complimented the fish quite well. Various sprigs of minty herbs accompanied the fish and although I appreciate the naturalness would have preferred a hot cooked vegetable (more of the delicious wilted spinach would have been better).


Our last savoury dish of the night was sweetbread or the sheep’s thymus (neck/throat gland). Lightly floured and pan fried the sweetbread was fairly good and really just tastes like tender dark chicken meat. Sitting on a bed of wilted greens and topped with these tart berries the dish was an interesting mix of sour and salty flavours, with the berries cutting the fattiness of the sweetbread.


To end, a dish of fresh strawberries with cheese curds – a seemingly healthier version of strawberries and cream. With sweet drizzles of elderflower syrup and a delicious hay dust, despite its simple presentation, this was a satisfying dessert. Every speck of dust, drop of syrup and crumble of curd was wiped up with the plump sweet strawberries by the end!


Actinolite’s menu is so different from what you’ll find elsewhere in the city. Dishes are simply presented allowing the ingredients themselves to be showcased and patrons to enjoy their natural tastes. Throughout the meal so many different flavour were presented; sour, bitter, sweet and salty all represented at different times. But, what struck me most was how perfectly Chef Cournoyer seasons everything; each element was salted (for my taste) to the right strength to compliment the other ingredients.

In addition, you still feel good after all seven courses – the dishes felt healthy and light so I didn’t get a gluttonous feeling afterwards. It’s also a good choices for vegetarians as so many dishes featured non-meat ingredients prominently already.

With its small dining room and friendly dressed down staff the restaurant has a laid back atmosphere. It was comfortable and made me feel like I was eating in the countryside despite the busy Ossington street just outside the window. Do yourself a favour and try it once, you may just fall in love with all the tastes fresh produce has to offer.

Overall mark - 8.5 out of 10

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Gastro World's Grading System

  • Anything under 5 - I really disliked and will never go back
  • - 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!