The choice is ours

February 16, 2007

In my natural Habitat

Filed under: Blogroll — shippingpal @ 1:59 pm

I was out at Habitat last night, on Queen West, for what must rank as perhaps the best meal I’ve eaten in Toronto in quite some time. Arriving early, there was a bit of a delay which the manager put down to Microsoft problems in printing out their new menu, and as an Office veteran I believe him, but once seated we were indulged royally. I should also mention in passing that the room itself – fondly recalled as the former home of Future Bakery on Queen – is one of the most nicely appointed in the city, all dark woods and creamy cloth with large booths and tasteful music selections.

We were presented with an amuse of grilled octopus, chorizo and olive which was superb – octopus can often be unpleasantly rubbery, but here it was deftly handled, very delicate and mild, while the chorizo was spicy and a single olive – dark, smoky – balanced everything nicely.

I started with the foie gras, which was seared and served on a brioche, with a fried quail egg, a piece of double-smoked bacon and a single date, which was somehow infused with coriander seed. It was everything you imagine – fatty, sweet, indulgent – and if it wasn’t for my cardiologist’s recommendations, I would eat it every day.

My main was filet mignon, served with rainbow chard and potato rosti. Nicely plated, it went superbly with the manager’s suggestion of a glass of a big Southern French red from Pic St. Loup. The beefiness of the meat merged wonderfully with the huge structure of the wine. Up to that point, I’d been indulging in a bottle of white Corbieres, just one of many unusual options in their substantial wine list – primarily grenache blanc with a few other grapes I’d never heard of before, it was medium bodied and very enjoyable. The manager, a fellow wine geek, even went so far as to call his distributor to get me more info on this bottle, which I’d never seen before – in fact, I didn’t even know they made white in Corbieres.

Dessert sent the meal over the top, with a deconstructed apple tart a la mode, which was composed of a wedge of baked apple, an upside-down cake, and olive oil ice cream, which was deliciously subtle and oaky – it didn’t behave like regular ice cream, but was appropriately creamy and smooth. Combine that with a gratis round of late harvest Vidal from an artisanal producer here in Ontario, and you have a meal to remember.

Currently reading: Noel Gallagher, in his own words (Independent)

Currently hearing: The Good, The Bad, and the Queen

Currently watching: Little Miss Sunshine (dir. Jonathan Dayton)

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