Thursday, June 23, 2016

Le Pavillion, A Pop-Up Joe Beef resto at The Derelict Hearn Generating Station, Toronto

The ambiance was MONUMENTAL at the derelict but cleaned up Hearn former power generating station. This was the location for Le Pavillion, a resto pop-up commissioned for the Luminato Festival, held annually in Toronto every year. The link below will show you a photo of the resto venue, located 4 floors up (you had to walk up the stairs....good exercise before the big dinner), in the power plant control room, on the landing above the ground floor.

http://www.theglobeandmail.com/life/food-and-wine/restaurant-reviews/article30397624.ece/BINARY/w940/image.jpg

Montreal's Joe Beef chef Frederick Morin and Toronto's Honest weight chef/proprietor John Bil, both good friends, were inspired to contribute their talents for this event and they also inspired chef celeb friends and winemakers to contribute to either food prep, busing, wait staff,etc, to this grand oevre, such as wine maker Norman Hardie, Chef Daniel Boulud, Joe Beef Chef/co-proprietor David Mcmillan, sommelier Vanya Filipovic, etc. Chocolates were supplied by Montreal's Nora Grey.

The derelict mess of the grounds and interior had to be cleaned up, water brought in from a source 200 meters distant, and power and the kitchen area scoured. Chefs Morin and Bil both contributed to adding design elements to the industrial space to make the room more pleasing and convivial.

Seven hundred, $100.00 per person, 7 course menu tickets were sold out within 24 hours of being offered. In keeping with the industrial theme, both Mr Bil and Mr Morin wore construction vests and steel toed boots for the service. Each day items were selected to be served from a very extensive a la carte menu (our group added 2 items to our set dinner). The a la carte menu also changed daily.


Fabulously fresh oysters, clams and prawns accompanied by mignonette sauce and Russian dressing. 


Wonderful house made bread accompanied the Joe beef style terrine of duck, gizzards and foie, cooked in a can, the tops removed and the can lifted at the table.


Ta-da!!! 


Classic gelee is added to the top of the terrine. The terrine and gelee were so classic and perfect. Delicious!


Joe Beef ham, cured in wine lees, thinly sliced and served with julienned celery root mixed with a walnut oil mustard cream and walnuts. 


Ontario white asparagus poached in beurre blanc, chilled and at service, warmed in green asparagus juice and served with a side of mousseline of epoise (epoise simmered in cream, chilled and folded with whipped cream and white pepper)


Gateau of arctic char, scallops and crayfish mousse with a crayfish bisque sauce. My favourite dish of the night....but every dish was at a high level. 


Roast lamb with figs in a delightfully rich sauce. 


Ratatouille. 


Buttered rice. 



Our "Extras"

Snails with garlic butter. 

No Photo: Horse tartar, meat chopped a la minute, with classic accompaniments of capers, raw egg yolk, diced shallots and chopped parsley. This was perfect and delicious.


Desserts


Classic baked alaska with cherrries. I have not enjoyed this dish for 30 years! 


Macerated sliced orange in old rum.


Fresh strawberry tart, the strawberries lie on a layer of jam and cream. 


Cookies from Andreas accompanied by chocolates for Nora Grey.




Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Shoushin, A Great Canadian Japanese Experience.

Shoushin is an omakase style resto. It has no "a la carte" menu, just 3 set menus: $80.00; $120.00; $250.00. WE enjoyed the $250.00 menu.

Horse mackerel, octopus, grated marinated cucumber (sunomono) and wakame seaweed. The texture of the octopus was uncommonly good and the fish tasted very fresh. This was a very good beginning, considering my overall experiences at most Japanese restos in Canada.


Firefly squid, seasonal spot prawn, kampachi yellowtail, Hokkaido scallop and sea bream, all pristinely fresh.


Tempura, better executed than virtually anywhere I have experienced tempura in North America, with an extremely light, ungreasy, crisp batter. Featured in this dish: mitsuba leaf; marinated and grated daikon; okra; beech mushroom.


Hokkaido wagyu beef with teriyaki sauce, fried cherry tomato, wasabe and grated hot pepper. 


Toro, the prime part of the tuna belly, a beautiful, high quality quality piece selected for our toro dishes. 


Chopped, pristinely fresh (and I will repeat this observation quite often in this review) toro sashimi topped with sturgeon caviar.


A clear kombu broth with whitefish cake, winter mellon and kinome leaf.

All of the fish with the sushi below tasted pristinely fresh, had the proper texture and the rice was the proper temperature.


Amadai (tilefish).


Hiramasa (kingfish).


Kinmedai.



Hirame (flounder).


Chutoro.

Toro (no photo).


Saba (mackerel).


Prawn.



Uni (sea urchin).


Snow crab.


Cooked squid topped with eel sauce.

The rest were extras that we requested, outside of the set menu that we  had ordered:


Sea urchin and osetra caviar on squid.


Fresh abalone was wonderful.


Mirugai (geoduck clam).


Aji (horse mackerel sashimi).


Anago (salt water eel).


Making a hand roll towards the finish of the meal (back to the set menu finishing dishes).








The finish, tamago (omelette). The tamago may have been the best I have tasted in Canada.

In summary, reflecting on the actual sushi experience itself, very marginally, I would have to say that for me, Yasu is still the city's gold standard for sushi. 

Saturday, June 11, 2016

Omaw, Toronto

Omaw resto is the new endeavor of accomplished chef, Matt Blondin. Formerly he was the first chef at Momofuku Daisho, Acadia and other acclaimed endeavors. I went twice, the second visit several months later so this is a montage of the 2 visits


 Boudin balls, saltine crust, bajan and worcestershire.



Crispy jumbalaya with tasso (pork mayo), worcestershire powder and prawn powder. A very good dish.


Aged wagyu beef with beef fat vinaigrette, capers, beef fat aioli, shaved scallions, pea relish and powdered buttered popcorn, accompanied by blini. The flavours absolutely burst in your mouth. A terrific dish.



Version 1: The exceptionally good mussels on frybread with creamed corn, huitlacoche, celery chow chow and malt vinegar. I could have ordered 3 of these!!


Version 2: mussels on frybread with huitlacoche (corn smut) and celery chow chow. This was the more recent version, but although good, I did not enjoy is as much as the first experience. The flavours and textures were somehow different.




Version 1: exceptional corn bread with jalapeno accompanied by yam and sorghum butter. The many restos that attempt corn bread rarely achieve this kind of very pleasing texture and transparent, complex flavours.


Version 2: corn bread with maple butter, the more recent version of the dish above. Again, although good, not as enjoyable as the first time as the first one had more interesting flavours.


Shredded kale, smoked sturgeon, roasted garlic, jalapeno and corn bread vinaigrette. 





Version 1: Kentucky fried squid with melon rind and chives.

Version 2: Kentucky fried squid with Alabama white sauce, melon rind and chives. This was the most recent version and was much more enjoyable than the first version. The texture of the squid and flavours were better. This was one of our favourite dishes.

Asparagus with XO sauce (oyster/chili peppers onion and garlic), hollandaise and chicken skins. A very good dish.


Pork ribs with a pomegranate molasses BBQ sauce, caramelized fried onions and mirliton (chayote) slaw. Very food ribs, good texture and flavour.


Beef short rib with a sugar cane glaze and coated with variations of corn, topped with sliced horseradish. The beef was succulent and perfectly cooked but we felt the sweetness of the cane glaze slightly overwhelmed the flavour of the beef. However, the concept was an interesting take on beef short ribs.


A delightfully tasty burgoo made with chicken sausage, stewed okra, turtle beans and chilis.


Shrimp and grits with gulf prawns, andouille sausage, mushrooms and pimento cheese. 



Fried chicken, wedge salad, buttermilk, bacon and tobasco. Very good! 


Very good turkey dumplings with  strips of turkey, onion likkor, corn kernels, crispy chips and black truffles in a terrifically concentrated, slightly smokey broth.


Key lime with lime curd, condensed milk, caramelized coconut and meringue. I enjoyed both the texture and the flavour.