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.
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.
2. Lobster Bisque w/ Fennel
Rules are meant to be broken. Eigensinn prefers to serve local/on-the-grounds ingredients but a shellfish can’t be bred inland. Not very creamy, intense lobster flavor. A sweetness gives way to a briny/sea aftertaste. Very Good.
3. Duck Consumme w/ Foie/Duck Dumpling
I will never live down the day I asked for a second serving of the ridiculous mushroom consumme at Regis Marcon as an alternative for the coffee/tea course. I was assured the Eigenssin consummes would be on a higher level. Sadly, this consumme, while good, did not live up to its expectations. There was no upfront burst of flavor; but it did have a solid backbone that carried the consumme through. Good.
4. Pork Belly w/ Foie
Pork belly was quite good – extremely crispy skin that yielded to a fatty/rich meat – certainly one of the better examples i’ve had lately. Foie was sauteed, no veins, but lacked any ooomph. All served in a bed of carrots, corn, parsley sauce, and chanterelle mushrooms. Very Good.
5. Grilled Georgian Bay Trout w/ Tomato-Chive Butter & Swiss Chard Compote
Nothing exciting, straight-forward fresh-water fish. Ok.
6. Black Currant Sorbet
Intense taste. Very Good.
7. Lamb w/ Sheep Cheese Raviloi
The lamb was a bit tough and my friend’s wife suggested rigor mortis was the culprit. Turns out, that was the case, as the lamb had only been sitting a week versus its customary 3-4 weeks. Ravioli was delicate & delicious. All served on a bed of green beans, roasted zucchini, beets in duck fat, and brain jous. Ok.
8. Vanilla / Armagnac Ice Cream
Sweet upfront, alcohol undertones, carried through like a good wine. Excellent texture. Very Good.
9. Apple Tartine w/ Plum
No notes, ok…….
I wanted Eigensinn to be a lot more and it should have been. I got the first meal after an extended vacation w/ the chef admitting some mistakes (rigor mortis lamb.) I would absolutely try it again (perhaps in the spring as snow and i don’t necessarily mix.) It is a *very* special place that reminds me of rural France or Spain (stylistically, the restaurant itself reminds me of a homegrown Mugaritz.) The potential is there, and considering its reputation, a second trip is justified. Next year, perhaps, before the Montreal grand prix.
If you’re in Toronto, there’s no excuse not to make the 2 hour trek up north to give it a shot.