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Langdon Hall

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So for the anniversary on Sunday, we finally went to Langdon Hall.

Jean would be quick to point out that it wasn’t his first time there (his work has its privileges), but it was mine. Though we are foodies, and this was recently named one of the top 100 restaurants in the world, the price has always given us pause. But we finally decided to go for it. Key to enjoyment is to not obsess too much about the cost. Though it is impossible to ignore completely.

The setting of the place is beautiful. The dining room is not all that big, really, and is very bright—lots of windows. Of course, it’s all fine linens and nice antique furnishings.

Although the menu was hardly huge—about five appetizers, five entrees, plus an option to have a five-course dinner with matching wines—we spent quite a while with it, debating and trying to decide what to opt for. It didn’t help that the wine list was a virtual catalog. Mind you, an excellent way to narrow the options was to stick to bottles under $75. “OK, so no white burgundies. And most especially no red burgundies! Champagne is out….” And so on.

In the end, we decided on the three-course approach. After giving our order, they brought bread and butter—both made in-house. In-house bread I’d experienced before; in-house butter was a first. And delicious with large salt crystals.

My appetizer was… actually kind of disgusting. I had to not think about it too much. It was foie gras (that’s not the disgusting part) and pig’s head. They didn’t even have a fancy name for it. Just pig’s head. And it didn’t help that the texture was… Odd. Fortunately, the taste was delightful. Some of the best cold foie gras I’ve had, with that other thing. And the sides of gooseberry and salt were beautiful flavor bursts. With that, I had a very nice glass of 1994 Daniel Lenko late harvest riesling (just $10!).

Jean’s starter was cold poached sable fish with an assortment of other items (always harder for me to remember stuff I didn’t personally eat). I tasted the fish, and it was really nice. He had that with a 2007 Tawse Pinot Noir, which we got a half bottle of.

As my main course, I went with potato-encrusted halibut with a side of morels and asparagus. (And had the Pinot with that; very nice, easy drinking light red.) I took one bit of one asparagus, swooned, and dropped another piece in Jean’s plate for him to try. The fish on its own, though, was one slight misfire of the whole dinner: it was slightly overdone, slightly dry. But when eaten with the encrusted potato, it was delicious.

And the morels. What amazing little food items those are. And, these ones were grown right at Langdon Hall. So that’s some fresh.

Jean’s beef strip loin was also accompanied by those morels. He also got some wonderful peas. And the meat? Really good; I tasted that also. The pinot seemed too light to go with that, so he had a glass of a Spanish tempranillo. It was full and fruity, and though he didn’t find it very complex, it did suit the food very well. (The sommelier—who is a woman, which seems slightly unusual—had recommended it.)

And then, dessert. We both picked a proper dessert, then Jean asked about the cheese, and got seduced in that direction instead. He chose four: a bleu de Charlevoix (we have visited that producer), la Sauvagine (his favorite cheese), a Belgian red (new to us; it was nice), and a chèvre noir. And, he asked for something non-alcoholic to go with that, as he had to drive home soon. That unusual request took the bartender four attempts, we were told, but they did come up with a nice cocktail of rosewater, mint, cranberry, and soda water.

I had the best-tasting dark chocolate in the world over chocolate mousse with delicious in-season Ontario strawberries. Oh, my God. And there was also a nice swirl of hazelnut mouse. I drank decaf cafe latte with that.

Jean did slightly over-order on cheese, and couldn’t quite finish, but otherwise, they did a great job of providing enough but not too much food over the three courses. We concluded that they weren’t necessarily better than Verses in cooking quality, but Langdon has their own brand of originality, a more frequently changing menu, and a real local focus, down to growing their own food. It’s not going to be a regular haunt, but we’re really glad we braved the sticker shock and experienced dinner there.

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