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Haisai Tasting menu

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Michael Stadtländer’s Haisai restaurant does not have (nor is intended to have) the cachet of his Eigensinn Farm, but this summer they are offering one aspect of that establishment: the “you shall eat what you are given” tasting menu (not published in advance). Only here you can do so for a mere $75, with optional $50 for matching wines. We tried it out this past Friday.

If you haven’t been here or to the farm before, the atmosphere can be a surprise:

Interior of Haisai

But even at these more manageable prices, the food remains some of the best on offer in the country.

The countdown on the four-course meal did not include the amuse bouche, but it’s definitely worth mentioning. It was a single oyster on one side, a fish roll on the other, and both lacking only in I would have liked to have had more.

Amuse of oysters and fish roll

All wines served were from the Ravine winery. First up was a nice dry rosé, meant to last through the amuse and the two appetizers.

The first of these was speck-wrapped Georgian Bay white fish (speck is a smoked pork—bacon-y), with braised cucumbers, peas, beets, and broad beans. All veggies were from the Eigensinn Farm, which is also where the pork was smoked. All the flavors “popped”, yet played nice together.

Appetizer of fish and speck

Appetizer the second was osso bucco ravioli, topped with cranberries, with a side of apple and radish. This proved to be the highlight of the meal, as the only thing better than just plain osso bucco, it turns out, is stuffing osso bucco into a perfect ravioli. The cranberries were a great accent.

Osso bucco ravioli

The main course wine was a meritage, that was very smooth, not excessively fruity. The main course itself was beef, asparagus, thyme polenta, and Swiss chard. We remain lesser fans of getting beef at gourmet dinners, but one must say that this free-range, grass-fed meat was really delicious, and literally was so tender it was cut with a butter knife. Polenta is another thing I usually don’t care for, but this was the best one I’ve had. The asparagus was good, of course, but the actual highlight? The Swiss chard! Delish.

Main course at Haisai

That left dessert, which was served with a Gewurtz that was slightly off-dry. There we split, with Jean opting for the three cheeses (all Canadian, and all meeting his approval) while I had the sweet stuff: Lemon tart, meringue on custard, and strawberry ice cream. All lovely, though the meringue was my favorite.

Three desserts

All photos taken with Blackberry or Android phones, as we forgot to bring a camera

 

 

 

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