Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Peter Martin's 20 King

Peter Martin's 20 King
45 King St. West
Kitchener, Ontario

We visited 20 King several times, even before they moved to the current location. I refused to go back after one visit few months ago. One of us ordered Chef's special, the first two courses came with identical garnishes. I understand how hectic it could be in the kitchen but HE~~~LLO! It is chef's special. What kind of creativity does it show in those dishes?

To make the long story short, we visited 20 King again. The menu is standard yet extensive...striploin, lamb, red deer shortloin, osso bucco, duck, capon, salmon...pretty much things you expect from a decent high-end restaurant. Speaking of the word "high-end", the price tag on food is quite steep in K-W standard; the price for a main dish ranges from $26 to $39. the lunch and dinner menus seem to be updated every season. You can always check out their website for the current versions of the menus.

I had a sourtini and we shared St Pellegrino throughout the dinner. We shared the Almond Shrimp as appetizer. For main courses, J had Red Deer Shortloin and I had Duck Two Ways.

Sourtini - pomegranate liqueur, watermelon liqueur, raspberry sour, shaken.
Almond Shrimp - black tiger tempura coated with slivered almonds, served with edamame hummus and lemon vinaigrette.
Red Deer Shortloin – served with creamy risotto, honey-preserved chanterelles, jus.
Duck two ways - confit leg, smoked breast, braised Napa cabbage, Yukon gold mashed and blackberry jus.

The cocktail wasn't the most exciting drink in the world; I expected the refreshing, pungent flavor from pomegranate liqueur and raspberry sour but the drink was just plain sweet. I guess it is meant to be a (typical) girly drink.

The almond shrimp was very sophisticated. The fluffy tempura batter, the crunchy slivered almonds and the juicy shrimp reminded me why we visited this restaurant several times. (After all, I only criticized the garnish and creativity, not the food itself.) The shrimp was served with edamame hummus and lemon vinaigrette, a relatively safe/conservative choice. I don't remember much about the deer shortloin, at least nothing I disliked. As for the duck two ways, it was another classic combination – duck with fruity jus. The smoked breast was thinly sliced while the leg was served whole. Both were tasty. I think the smoked duck breast with greens will also make very good duck salad.

The service was on the slow side. But it was clearly due to lack of manpower (both at the front and in the kitchen). We got a bottle of sparking water on the house because we waited a long time for the main courses. Note: we got the free bottle of sparking water not because we complained or anything; we just looked around and wondered where our food was. In terms of service, it was a nice touch.

It is hard for me to describe the unique characters of 20 King. It is not traditional nor conservative; however, it is not exactly innovative or French-Asian fusion either. The most appropriate word I can think of is "classy", the food is quite sought-after – rich, polished and somehow predictable. It won't really wow you but the menu can stay for few years without being outdated. With the limited resources (based on what we observed that day), that is quite an accomplishment. I am still having slight issue with the garnish though…does it really require THAT much water cress (as garnish) in certain dishes?

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