As I mentioned in my TILT last Thursday, I really love Valentine’s Day, and like last year JC set up a nice big thoughtful surprise. He didn’t tell me what he was up to until about 20 minutes before we arrived at the restaurant, just that we’d need to be ready by 5pm, and it was going to be a bit fancy.
Surprise – we were off the Bay and Wellington – Canoe, one of the places I had been in contact to potentially host our wedding (but never eaten at.) JC had arranged a vegan tasting menu, because as usual, the standard Valentine’s Day menu was anything but. So there began Taste Valentine’s vegan Style.
Canoe prides it self on using mostly seasonal and local ingredients, and consider’s their cuisine “Canadian.” Their menu changes seasonally, they have a broad wine selection, and the view from the 54th floor of the TD Bank Tower is amazing. We were seated by the window facing the lake, and in-between fog patches the city looked lovely. It looks like they also have screens to protect birds (or at least reduce the number) from flying into the windows.
We started with a couple of cocktails from their special Valentine’s Day menu, I had the Love Triangle – Sparkling wine, black cherry & passion fruit juice, and a little bit of cassis (black currant.) JC had the Romeo Sour. I win this round, though it took some time for me to finish it.
It was nice not to have to make any decisions, and our dinner began with an amuse bouche of seared endive, citrus & fennel. And as usual, our bouches were amused. I’m always struck by how delightful seared fennel tastes with citrus, especially since I don’t actually like licorice.
Next we enjoyed an Apple Seaweed Salad with pickled daikon & an apple cider foam. I loved the little cubes of pickled radish, dots of seaweed puree, and apple cider foam.
Northern Woods Mushroom Risotto with crispy leeks & turnip. Multipurpose leeks. Crispy and steamed. Oh mushrooms, why must you be so delicious yet devoid of real nutritional value? The short grain rice risotto was tasty but consisted of rice cores of slightly harder than what I would call al dente, and that seemed strange in the case of such an otherwise sapid dish.
A sweet and powerful palate cleansing intermezzo of a deep red blood orange ice.
Grilled Tofu – heirloom Carrots & Alberta Barley. This is the dish JC and I were both kind of meh about, at least as far as the tofu squares were concerned. It felt as though it had just been added for the sake of a traditional protein, without really understanding tofu and how it needs to be prepared. The rest of the dish was delicious though, the heirloom carrots firm and flavourful, rich hearty barley, topped off with what tasted like purple cilantro. It all came together really nicely, but the tofu was still not very exciting.
We were presented with a story and a maple syrup tasting of Société Orignal – Remonte-pente (Brix* 70.) I can remember vaguely hearing about this maple syrup from the local foodies or the foraging community, but it was never presented with such flourish. And you know what? This maple syrup was really really really good. It was thick, and sweet, and the experience and flourish of it’s presentation added to the appeal.
*In case you’re wondering – brix or degrees brix is the sugar content of an aqueous solution (yes – there is, of course, a measurement for that.)
And the final and possibly most talked about course post-dinner was the Pistachio Poached Pears with Birch Syrup & Nova Scotia Seaside Blueberries. It also featured a cardamom ice, which destroyed any aesthetic appeal the dish may have had by melting. The blueberries immediately reminded me of the Saskatoon berries my mother and I used to pick in forests around Central Alberta, but the true magic of this dish was the pistachio poached pears. They were perfectly infused with the flavour of pistachio while still retaining their firm pear shape and flavour. Plans to duplicate this one started immediately. I’ll let you know how it goes. How to Poach Pears? / Flavour infusion
We ended our meal with turkish delight and raspberries that reminded me how much I love raspberries (when they’re in season.) And to end it off, Canoe has a diverse selection of teas, so I had a royal earl grey tea, and JC had a double espresso, but there were not any non-dairy milks available for coffee, so his fancy coffee options were limited.
Overall I was overwhelmed and delighted to be with my dear romantic partner, and entirely enjoyed the wonderful and languid 3 hour dinner looking over at Lake Ontario from up on high. It’s seems like a great place to go if you really want to wow someone with both the food and the service, or just have an exceptional dining experience.
- This is not the place for a budget meal, it’s not even close.
- Another thing worth mentioning is that they also serve foie gras. (not to us of course – but in general.)