I have noticed that the trend for many of the best restos, some relatively new, when I travel to London, Paris and New York, is to have no menu per se. Just how many courses and how much. Essentially, an omikase (trust the chef) menu with whatever ingredients are the most interesting from the best of what is supplied from the region or locally. The waiter asks is you have any food dislikes, food preferences (such as better cooked meat or fish) or any food allergies. Another local restaurant that is following this procedure is Edulis.
For me, the quality and style of these meals set Chef Victor Barry's cooking uniquely apart from any restaurant experience in Canada! These 2 meals that follow, will reveal his new approach to tasting menus. Each surprise dish was sheer perfection of pristine freshness and flavour composition.
You will notice quite a few sashimi dishes done in chef Barry's own adaptation of Japanese style. You would be hard pressed to enjoy a better quality sashimi experience anywhere in Canada.
I apologize for the lighting of the photos in this first meal as I was obliged to use my dinner companion's camera.
Salmon roe cornet with maple syrup and blue spruce foam.
Osetra caviar, white chocolate and potato ice cream. These complements are going to sound redundant after a while, but, a terrific combination of textures and flavors.
Oysters topped with a mignonette sauce.
Uni perfection with nori on thin toast.
Octopus and saffron topped with tarragon leaves. Perfectly tender with the proper texture.
Lightly smoked irish organic salmon topped with shiso leaves. Loved this.
House made fresh cheese with lavender and buckwheat blini.
Grilled radish, radish leaf, radish snow, radish oil and ricotta cheese.
Porcini mushroom cracker topped with porcini snow and chives.
Halibut wing with Canadian wasabi and oxalis leaves.
Lightly cured trout with pickled cipollini mushrooms and chive oil.
The presentation of the dish below.
Smoked oyster (when the top of the dish was removed, the wood smoke was released) with potato, beurre monte and chopped chives.
Roasted golden beet, 5 spiced beets, spruce ash, buttermilk espuma, nasturtium leaf and flower.
Bolero carrot and ginger (5 hour cooked carrot, to the point of very sweet perfection).
Truffled coddled eggs.
Grilled hamachi collar with fermented black bean sauce, cilantro and verbena.
Crusty, just baked bread accompanied by creamed foie gras and cultured butter. Yes, served intentionally at this moment of the meal.
Spinach Agnolotti with butter, parmigiano reggiano and topped with black Perigord truffle.
65 day dry aged Cumbrae Farms ribcap with romesco sauce, parmigiano reggiano and Vicki's Veggies tomatoes.
Left: pate du fruit - lavender and thyme
Top: blackberry marshmallowRight: raspberry macaroon
Lameque oysters topped with diced green apple and jalapeno mignonette. In the bag, blue popcorn combined with dehydrated scallops and bacon fat.
Osetra caviar, white chocolate and potato ice cream. A terrific combination of textures and flavors.
Turbot sashimi, bone oil, pickled young ginger shoots, lime and salt.
"Fish N' chips, smelt with lemon, salt and lime.
Very fresh uni (sea urchin) on toast.
Monterey abalone sashimi with it's liver topped with nasturtium pesto and flowers.
"Clambake", barely cooked clam with bacon, seaweed and seawater.
Seaweed on rocks accompanied the clam dish above, for the enticing surrounding aroma (nothing eaten here).
Roasted, perfectly "undercooked" lobster with it's tomalley emulsion with perilla leaves.
Roasted B.C. octopus, possessing a perfectly tender texture, with saffron rouille and topped with pickled cucumber.
Hamachi sashimi with Canadian wasabe, garlic, nori and a mild tamari sauce.
Cooked hamachi belly topped with spruce-black bean emulsion
Rainbow trout with cultured cream and fermented cipollini onions.
Trout roe cornets with red onion and spruce foam.
Cold smoked oyster with fresh river caviar.
Salad of jerusalem artichokes, matsutake mushrooms and Molise black truffles.
Bolero carrot and ginger (five hour cooked carrot to the point of very sweet perfection), topped with smoked creme fraiche and ginger oil all flavoured with coriander, thyme and bay leaf.
Salted linzer potato cooked in whey and fermented milk with mint and lightly smoked egg yolk.
Ricotta agnolotti topped with white truffles.
The presentation of just baked bread accompanied by creamed foie gras and cultured butter.
Hare royale, Quebec hare with blood, chocolate and maple syrup sauce.
Crackling with beet and crackling.
Perfection in beef, perfectly cooked Cumbrae farms 65 day dry aged rib cap (my absolute favourite cut of great beef), accompanied by beef heart.
Eastern pine mushroom puree with bone marrow accompanied by a donut filled with chocolate, maple and milk caramel.
A presentation of some very good 12 year old rum accompanied by a juice consisting of apple, vanilla and cinnamon, to be added to the rum.
The presentation of the pumpkin dessert.
Pumpkin dessert: praline crème Légère, butter tart puree, pumpkin seeds, brown butter crumble and pumpkin foam.
Left to right: dark chocolate praline ganache; blackberry and white chocolate; dark chocolate and passion fruit.
Banana and rum macaroon (far right); top: apricot and lavender pate du fruit; Bottom: raspberry marshmallow.