Cultureguru's Weblog

Of food, technology, movies, music, and travel—or whatever else strikes my fancy

Birthday dinners

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Jean was away for my birthday, but my friends kindly stepped in, and I wound up with more than the usual allotment of birthday outings.

First up was a dinner at Masala Bay. This was on a freezing cold Wednesday, and two of us could not resist having the mulligatawny soup, which was indeed very warming and delicious. But also very filling, making it difficult to finish our main course curries and naan. But hey, Indian leftovers are good.

The day after my birthday, I was taken out for both lunch and dinner. Lunch was at Bauer Kitchen, a place I tend to avoid because it’s so noisy. But it wasn’t so bad this day. We arrived earlier so the initially smaller number of people helped; but even as it filled up, because we were sitting against a wood backing. it wasn’t as loud as it can be at more central tables. I made a meal of two appetizers: mussels and duck confit wings—both very tasty, though the mussels really would have been enough. Well, the duck confit wings were pretty good leftovers, also.

Dinner was at a new place to me, but one that people speak pretty highly of: Redhouse, on the site of the former Yukiko’s. Quite a nice meal here, too. I, like several others, started with the Iron Horse Trail salad, in which the greens are topped with various nuts and dried fruit. And my main course was the Boneless Cornish Hen: Porcini-dusted & pan-roasted, truffled wild mushroom ragout, wilted blonde frisee, goat cheese & lemon potato croquettes, tarragon puree. (Did I remember all those details? Of course not. I just copied it from their online menu.) It was just about as good as that description made it sound.

Oh, and I got a free birthday dessert at both of those meals as well.

I have no photographic proof of any of those meals [so how do we know they really happened?], but this was made up for last night at Jean’s birthday dinner. We went to 39 Carden Street restaurant in Guelph, which I got interested in after its rather good review in The Record.

It’s a small place, and seems rather popular, so we had some concerns about the noise level here also, but it wasn’t that bad. They change their menu frequently, so instead of printed menus, we had to select everything from chalk boards on the wall. Not crazy about that, particularly as the far ones at an angle are rather hard to read. And it means you spend the first part of your meal turning away from each other, staring at the wall.

But the chalk boards did contain many interesting-sounding items. They call their appetizers “snacks”. For these, we finally settled on six raw East Coast oysters (to share), to which I added deep-fried oysters (mysteriously called chicken-fried oysters, though I do not believe any meat was involved). In all its forms, the oysters were just perfectly delicious.

Oysters on the half shell. Rasberry Point and Pickle Point Oysters :)

And Jean tried potatoes croquette with salt code aioli, which was also a mighty fine dish. Crispy and not too salty.

Potatoe Croquettes with Salt Cod Aioli

We were a bit disappointed that it seemed they had no white wines by the glass (as our main courses were definitely red wine fare), but when we asked, he said they did have a Sauvignon Blanc available. And that was perfect with this.

But while we were on the track of thinking that we had to pick a red that would work with everything, we settled on a Pinot Noir from Chile. Then we didn’t change that when we found out we could start with white after all. That turned out to be a mistake, as the Pinot was a 2013, so really quite young and thin. It wasn’t bad, on its own, but it didn’t stand up to the food that well.

On the other hand, it was only $30, which is quite good in a restaurant, and we just corked the remainder to bring home. (After informing the waiter that, yes, it is legal to do that in Ontario, even with screw-top wines.)

Jean had roast duck over risotto as his main course, while I went with lamb sirloin with lentil cassoulet. All the meat was prepared very well, tasty, with good texture. I also found the lentils were very well flavored. Jean wasn’t bowled over by the risotto, but it was a reasonable presentation.

Medium Rare Lamb Sirloin with lentil cassoulet

For dessert we had: A cheese tray! (Well, it was Jean’s birthday, and that is his favorite food.) The best of that lot was the blue, which wasn’t too strong. One of the cheeses, a raclette, was just so-so. Nonetheless, we took the leftover of that home along with the wine.

Given that it’s a 45-minute drive to Guelph, I’m not sure how often we’ll get to 39 Carden Street again, but overall they acquitted themselves well. It was a nice evening out.


And more related to my last post: It reminded me that the last (only) time I’d previously seen Brian May and Roger Taylor perform live also involved the “Idol” franchise—Canadian version. As with Adam’s year, one of the non-winners is the one who ended up with the big career: Carly Rae Jepsen. Yep.Jean was too busy at the time to join me, so my younger sister stepped in. It was nearly seven years ago, and I wrote about it here: An Ironic Night at the Rock Opera.

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