Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Another journey....

We decide to go to Europe and use up all our vacation days this year. To us, as usual, "to-eat" list is just equally important as the "to-visit" list. After doing lots of reading (the official sites, menus, forums and reviews), all of sudden, the fine dining places in this area don't seem THAT expensive any more. We'll see if this becomes an incentive for us to dine out more after the trip.

Friday, September 08, 2006

Langdon Hall

Langdon Hall
1 Langdon Drive
Cambridge, Ontario N3H 4R8

Langdon Hall is a special restaurant in our memories; we went to this restaurant the day J proposed to me. There have been different chefs since then (e.g. Chef Shantz left Langdon Hall and opened his own restaurant, Verses). the current chef Jonathan Gushue started in November 2005, he previously worked at Truffles (at the Four Seasons Toronto). After checking out the sample menus posted on their website, we decided to revisit the restaurant.

Many people will probably be impressed by the grandness of Longdon Hall especially if that is the first time they see the building. It is not about the size of the building, but the soaring white columns with red bricks, dark front door and a formal yet casual, immaculate landscape. The staff is all polite and soft-spoken, the maitre'd has a sense of drama and our waiter has French accent. He seemed a bit distant, hopefully not because we didn't order any wine to start (After thinking about the case of wine sitting in our basement, we really couldn't bring ourselves to order more wine).

We ordered San Pellegrino to share, I had Campari and tonic. The amuse bouche was breaded goat cheese with tomato cumin puree, pine nuts arugula puree. This little chef's treat immediately won my heart. Goat cheese is never my thing. I had breaded chevre cheese somewhere else, it was...I'd rather not think about. Not that amuse bouche. The goat cheese wasn't overly strong, and each type of puree/dressing was very distinct. It definitely served its purpose (as a means to wake up the taste buds).

For appetizers, I had Digby scallop and champagne vichyssoise with Granny smith apple poached scallop hudson bay caviar. We don't normally see restaurants specifically label the origins of their supplies on the menu, but that is definitely a beautiful dish to show case Canadian ingredients. I just wish I had a video camera with me at that time so I could capture how this dish was served. The scallop was thinly sliced and placed in the centre of the plate. Apples were cubed in the size of (roughly) 0.5 cm x 0.5 cm x 0.5 cm and evenly scattered on the plate, along with the caviar. When the vichyssoise (which btw, is a fancy way of saying "chilled potato and leek soup") was slowly poured in the plate from a pitcher, the green apple bits and charcoal caviar started to float in the milky white liquid. It was aesthetically stunning! The taste was just equally pleasant. The scallop was very tender and fresh (in fact, I think it was raw), the subtle yet delicate champagne flavor lightened the body. Occasionally I "caught" a fish egg which generated instant burst of saltiness and richness. Without the apples, the soup might be too rich to finish. J had Dungeness crab tortellini with sweat pea sauce sherry dupuy lentils shellfish vinaigrette. It was delicious but not as interesting as the vichyssoise.

J had fennel crusted Provimi veal tenderloin with ruby beet and truffle puree, sweet pea ravioli, pistachio jus as main. At first we were slightly concerned that the fennel might overpower the veal but it turned out pretty well. In fact, fennel and truffle actually make good combination. Veal was tender as it "should" (after the appetizers, the expectation was high : p). I had Eversprings farm muscovy duck breast hazelnut crust confit leg with Girolle mushrooms (Chanterelle?) and tomato ragout, citrus jus. Another dish well-done! The duck was moist, skin was crispy. The vegetables and citric flavor counterbalanced the rich, savory duck, making it a nice summer dish. We didn't have dessert. There wasn't anything we particularly wanted to try. (Also we had desserts we made the day before still being chilled in our fridge.) Overall, it was a great experience.

Langdon Hall is well-known as a SPA resort. In terms of dining experience, it is a hidden gem in the tri-city area. The evening we went there, our car was the only one from this area (judging by the license plates, many guests were either from great Toronto area or from the States). We will try their Sunday brunch or afternoon tea some other time.