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The Bauer Kitchen and Angel’s Gate Winery restaurant

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This weekend we had visitors, so we ate out a couple of times.

The Bauer Kitchen is a relatively new restaurant, the latest in a series by The Charcoal Group. I’ve always found Charcoal restaurants to be solid but unexciting, but was curious to try Bauer mainly because every item on the menu is paired with a particular wine by the glass.

Being lodged in a renovated factory, the place itself has a fair amount of character, which is nice. The high ceilings and Saturday night popularity made it somewhat loud, though. The service was perfectly respectable. Pretty informal (“Hi guys!”), but attentive, and no big waits for orders, food delivery, or bill pick-up.

As a starter, I had the mixed mushrooms tart with St. André and Romano cheese. I had some fear would be too cheesy, but that was not the case; the mushroom taste predominated, and was very good. That was paired with a Chilean pinot. Others at our table had cold melon soup with prociutto, part of the Summerlicious menu, and declared merely OK, and baked brie with sugared pecans and fruit. It’s hard to go wrong with baked brie.

For the main course, I went for the Cioppino. This version was a pile of tomato-y onions and sweet peppers, topped with several kinds of fish and seafood. I was pleasantly surprised how well the fish was done, with nothing overcooked. The vegetables had a definite sweet tinge, which was not unappealing. Also tried was the duck, found to be good but not great (nice sauce, but possibly overcooked); baked trout that was apparently also prepared very well; and prosciutto wrapped pork tenderloin with mashed potatoes, both a hit. My dish came with an Australian white of a type of grape I’d never heard of before, and now can’t remember. But it was fine, maybe a bit Chardonnay-like, and did suit the food.

Dessert for me was a mix of sorbet and fruit in an ice wine sauce. I couldn’t really detect the ice wine, but the sorbet was very nice. I had that with one of their specialty coffees (instead of the recommended ice wine), made with steamed milk rather than whipped cream. The other two desserts were declared perfectly appealing as well.

Overall, of course, it was not Verses or Langdon Hall quality, but then again, it’s cheaper as well. I would declare the Bauer Kitchen good value for the money.

Sunday we headed out to Beamsville to visit a few wineries. After a stop at Rosewood, where I got a Gewurtz and a Riesling, we went for lunch at Angel’s Gate Winery. The menu is quite different: It offers four platters, all intended to serve two people, on these themes: Regional, Quebec, East Coast, and cheese. We went for Regional and cheese. Then, most of us also opted for flights of wine, which is 2 0z. of four of their wines.

The Regional platter was really nice, with lamb loin, absolutely delicious tomatoes, green beans done up nicely in a truffle sauce, pickerel fillet, and crepes with berries and goats cheese. The cheese assortment included Cheddar, a Hermitage blue, a brie, and another, with a good selection of fruit and crackers.

The setting there is gorgeous: an open terrace looking out over the vineyard. And Sunday was beautiful; a perfect day for that type of lunch. Having four types of wine and so many types of food was great fun, and really, the perfect way to taste wine. Though in the end, I only bought their Tavel-style rosé (just $11.95!).

Après lunch, we headed to Crown Bench Estates, known for their flavored ice wines. Jean’s sister picked up a few of those, but we stuck to the 2007 reds, bringing home the Meritage, which is a blend.

Somewhat rounding out the culinary weekend (which, Saturday, also featured a stop at the Olive Grove in Elora, for olive oil and vinegar tasting), we made a foie gras and duck breast supper, all based on LCBO recipes. The duck was accompanied by beets, oyster mushrooms, and mint, in olive oil and balsamic, and it turned out really well. (Yes, better than at Bauer Kitchen.) The side of Jamie Oliver roasted potatoes, with very fresh rosemary and sage, were also a hit.

Now, to exercise.

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