50C Clinton Street
1st Course: fish skin with smoked creme fraiche, fennel and dill pollen.
2nd Course: warm scallop with red brassica, wild mustard, watermelon radish and celeriac.
3rd Course: catfish with pumpernickel, goat's curd, pickled egg yolks and whites and onion tops.
4th Course: oyster soup with chicken stock aspic, black pepper, licorice and borage .
5th Course: red fish with hedgehog mushroom, brown butter, samphire and xeres vinegar.
6th Course: pork belly with steelcut oats, banana pudding, black sesame and peanut.
7th Course: caramelized buttermilk with white chocolate, blood orange and olives.
In her opinion:
I spend a lot of time on Twitter and sometimes I'm really glad that I do because I learn about a lot of different foodie related events on there. That's where I learned about the 7-course tasting menu offered at Acadia for $39.00 per person on March 18 or 19, 2012. That is just unbelievable for a couple of reasons. First, 7-courses for $39.00 is unheard of for Toronto restaurant. Secondly, this is one of Toronto top new restaurants.
Acadia was selected the second best new restaurant of 2012 by Toronto Life Magazine. That is nothing to sneeze at. Matt Blondin, a French-Canadian chef from Sudbury, is a rising star in Toronto's food scene and a favourite of restaurant critics and foodies! So needless to say, I was thrilled and on the edge of my seat about this dinner. That was until, Acadia Restaurant posted a picture of the 7-course menu on Twitter...then I got nervous. This was going to be some dinner. A foodie's dream come true. But not necessarily my dream come true!
Was it going to be too much for me. I pride myself on being an open-minded foodie but sometimes I'm also a conservative foodie. On Sunday night when the pictures of each dish started to make the rounds on Twitter...I got a little nervous again and a lot excited.
Acadia is a nice spot in the middle of Little Italy, the decor is not overwhelming, and the space is open with an exposed kitchen. This means we are an audience to Chef Blondin's cooking. We are also allowed to see that Chef Blondin likes to cook in his socks. I kid you not...that made me realize that he's comfortable in his space and that is reflected in his cooking.
|Shoeless Chef Blondin|
After being seated and shown the bar menu, we ordered sparkling water for the table and a Virginia Housewife for me (prosecco, gin, wild bergamot and earl grey tea ice cube). Our very efficient waitress then asked if we wanted to start the tasting menu and with our reassuring yes...it began.
2nd Course: warm scallop with red brassica, wild mustard, watermelon radish and celeriac. This dish was excellent. I loved the accompaniments that went with the scallop. The red brassica was outstanding.
3rd Course: catfish with pumpernickel, goat's curd, pickled egg yolks and whites and onion tops. This dish reminded me of fish and chips without the chips. It was very good. The catfish was light and not the least bit oily.
4th Course: oyster soup with chicken stock aspic, black pepper, licorice and borage. This soup was interesting. The oyster soup was foamy. The chicken stock aspic that was served with raw mackerel was outstanding. This addition completely made the soup.
5th Course: red fish with hedgehog mushroom, brown butter, samphire and xeres vinegar. This was my favourite of the first five courses. The fish was well seasoned and cooked perfectly. I enjoyed the emulision made of xeres vinegar on top of the fish but wasn't crazy about the sea asparagus or mushrooms on their own. Eaten together, everything complimented each other.
6th Course: pork belly with steelcut oats, banana pudding, black sesame and peanut. This course scared me the most. Pork belly and banana pudding - really!?!? Wasn't I pleasantly surprised when I ate my first bite...this was outstanding. This dish has hints of eating a peanut butter sandwich with banana. The pork rillette croquette was excellent. The course that I was most scared of was my absolute favourite! I would easily had another one of these...it was that good.
7th Course: caramelized buttermilk with white chocolate, blood orange and olives. This was very interesting! Probably my least favourite of all the courses. I think after eating the 6th course nothing stood a change. The blood orange sorbet was refreshing, the caramelized buttermilk panna cotta was smooth and delicious. I really enjoyed the cookie crumble and white chocolate on the plate but Chef Blondin could have kept the olive colis that he placed on the plate. I thought it was too salty for the loviliness of the panna cotta and sorbet.
Overall, this was a very good experience. Acadia is awesome...then again it was voted the second best new restaurant in Toronto and they don't need a lowly foodie to tell them that!
In his opinion:
I pride myself on being a true foodie and trying as many culinary treats of this world as humanly possible. I also have to admit that I have a weak spot for tasting menu's, a venue where a chef can uplift the dining experience to a new level.
So, needless to say that I was looking forward to the 7-course dinner at Acadia. You had to buy a ticket in advance for the 2 night event and not knowing at all what the menu would be until closer to the day. I had heard a lot about Arcadia and its Chef Matt Blondin and was looking forward to trying his food, especially being a special night of tasting.
|Interior of Acadia|
The tasting menu was not the type of menu for non-fish lovers (how can that even exist) since 5 out of the 7 dishes were fish or seafood. I was in heaven and my Portuguese blood was thanking the chef, even though Cod (Portuguese staple fish) was not on the menu that night.
1st Course: fish skin with smoked creme fraiche, fennel and dill pollen.
The fish skin comes well presented in a slice of a log with the fish skins pretrudding from the holes in it. The skins were crunchy, tasty and owned the salt of the ocean in them. It felt like eating the crunchiness of pork grindes but the fish tasting version. Very tasty and lovely with the creme fraiche.
2nd Course: warm scallop with red brassica, wild mustard, watermelon radish and celeriac. This scallop was exquisitely done. The mix of textures in the dish work well together but also stand well on their own, leaving a lingering taste in your mouth well after the bite is gone. The gluten free bread crumb imitation added a clever touch to the softer feel of the rest of the plate.
3rd Course: catfish with pumpernickel, goat's curd, pickled egg yolks and whites and onion tops. I'm not particularly a cat fish lover, to me it has the blandness of lake fish and not enough flavour to make an impact. This dish relied of the pumpernickel fish skin, perfectly fried to fix the balance of textures. The playful hints of egg yoke and egg whites is the perfect accent to the main dish which also went well with the goat's curd.
4th Course: oyster soup with chicken stock aspic, black pepper, licorice and borage. I love oysters but oyster soup? That must be overwhelming I thought...I was wrong. The broth is well balanced, not to be too sea-foodish and the medley of cubed borage added a soft texture to the soup.
5th Course: red fish with hedgehog mushroom, brown butter, samphire and xeres vinegar. When a fish is cooked to perfection, it's so much easier to love all that comes with it. The sea asparagus were perfectly pickled and the cold mushrooms were the balance to the flavours, softening it all a bit.
6th Course: pork belly with steelcut oats, banana pudding, black sesame and peanut. Ok, this dish was the one I was looking forward to the most. I'm above all a pork lover and I think it's a shame that you don't see pork belly on enough menus (insert Martin Picard reference here). The piece of pork belly was cooked to perfection and with ketchup in the mix (although no ketchup taste is not at all prominent in the pork). It was served with a wonderful pork rillette croquette and banana pudding which oddly enough works well with the pork belly. I told the waitress that I would like to return to have that pork belly in all 7 dishes someday.
7th Course: caramelized buttermilk with white chocolate, blood orange and olives. By the time dessert came around, I was ready to start again on the tasting menu. The smooth panna cotta was served with blood orange sorbet. The cookie crumble and white granulated sugar chunks made my palate jump to accommodate the cold to sweet to salty jumps I was experiencing over and over.
The Good: Great experience at Acadia, tasting menu was all I expected and more and I personally congratulated Chef Matt Blondin for making my night.
The Bad: 7 courses in under 80 minutes felt a bit fast and other tables were mentioning the same.
The Verdict: The food surpassed my expectations even though I had read enough good reviews to give me a good indication. I will return to Acadia as I really enjoyed it and would also like to taste their regular menu.
I give Acadia 3 1/2 olives out of 5 as rating
|Chef Matt Blondin|