Archive for September, 2006

Splendido (Toronto) – Almost There

Splendido is one of a handful of high-end fancy restaurants in Toronto, despite its name – Splendido Bar & Grill. My friend had some top-notch langostines & lamb on his previous few visits so he asked them to give us a shellfish-centric menu w/ some lamb at the end.

It was the best meal of the trip (Sushi Kaji a close 2nd, Eigensinn 3rd but probably b/c expectations were too high and they missed.) Splendido’s food can have too much going on at times, and the chef definitely likes his powerful flavors, but the ingredient quality is very good to great and when it’s on – it’s up there.

1. Trio of Scallops
a. Seared w/ Tuna Bacon & Maple Syrup -> The flavors went well together but the syrup was a touch too sweet and masked the (likely) natural sweetness of the scallop. Good.
b. Raw w/ Tamari Jelly -> Bright, clean flavors, unsure of origin of tamari. Excellent.
c. Raw w/ Tapanade -> Muddy, couldn’t taste the scallop. Ok.

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Eigensinn Farm (near Toronto) – Maybe Next Time

Eigensinn Farm is a small restaurant run by Michael Stadlanter and his wife Nobuyo. It is the epitome of the organic/regional trend since nearly everything served was grown or raised on or near the property. It’s a complete vertical operation -> Plant, grow, pick, slaughter, and cook.

The restaurant itself has attained myth-like status. You step through some mud and enter the dining room via their laundry room. A dog and cat might be patrolling the dining room. 12 lucky people are served on Fri & Sat only for a few months a year. Dinner costs around $250/person. There’s no wine list. The service is not professional – just enthusiastic students of the farm. French music might be heard at night emanating from the barn (a happy cow makes for better food.) A lot of quirks that give the place its charm and reputation.

The cooking has been compared to The French Laundry in its honesty and integrity. It’s consistenty ranked as the #1 restaurant in Canada. Unfortunately, my meal was not on the level it should have been. They had just returned from an extended vacation and they probably needed a few more days to get into the groove.

1. “Amuses”
A plate of various shellfish/fish.
- Malpeaque oyster w/ tarragon was refreshing, crisp, touch of sea. Very Good.
- White fish w/ bleu blanc & tarragaon was good, but the fish lacked flavor. Ok.
- Pickerel w/ jersulam artchicoke & ice wine reduction was the star of the show. Slightly sweet, nice texture/preparedness for a river fish. Very Good.
- Black cod w/ horseradish & orange – ok, satisfactory, but perhaps a bit too bland to really impress. Good.
- Smoked pork on sourdough – flavorful but nothing revelationary. Ok.

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Redd (Yountville, CA) – Editors Please Apply

I had a reservation for Redd this afternoon and jetted up there. The meal was good, perfectly nice on the patio on a sunny day, but i don’t think the restaurant warrants the accolades it has received (SFGate gives it 3.5 stars.)

A good meal that i’d put on par w/ Cyrus (obviously, different types of food.) The dishes were busy on the whole and lacked a focus – there was no purity of flavor.

Although their menu is far more limited, i’d say Bar Crudo in SF is just as good; but the surroundings @ Redd are nicer.

In short, it’s about what i expected and I’ll probably go again at some point in the future since it’s a nice-enough place to have lunch in the sun.

1. Yellowfin Tuna & Hamachi Tartar w/ Honey Mustard Dressing, Avocado, & Fried Rice
The fish was of high quality but this dish suffered from too much. The dressing gave it a necessary spice but its sweetness was cloying. While the rice-krispie rice is interesting, it doesn’t add anything to the dish (maybe texture, but wasn’t working for me.) Good.

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