It seems that we’ve got “the usuals” group now, always dining out together. I love it! Andrew (@_aneb), the lone guy in the group, organizes a tasting with Chef Markus Bestig (@ChefBestig) every year. This year, he invited us along with one of his old middle school friends.
Originally, I couldn’t make it but in the end, I’m so glad that everything worked out! Because as you’re about to see/read, this meal was amazeballs. ;D The venue: O&B Café Grill on Front (@Oliver_Bonacini).
Fresh warm buns to start.
Love pillowy soft bread! Where the butter just gives way, melting effortlessly. Mmm!!
Course 1 – CRISPY ATLANTIC COD STEAMED BUNS
(w/ nam prik vegetables & togarashi kewpie). The steamed bun is a trend that’s really skyrocketing! This one is a “man tao”, which I love best deep fried and dipped into condensed milk. ;D (try it!!)
There were some great interplay of textures and flavours in the bun. The nori tempura would’ve been the perfect finish had it not been a bit soggy. Imagine that seaweedy-salty-crunch.
Andrew, being so on top of things (this guy pretty much organized his own kickass birthday dinner), even brought a couple of great wines to be paired with the meal. The first was a Hinterland Rosé (2009) (@hinterlandwine). Yes, I loved it. Very crisp, a little sweeter than a typical rosé. (Thanks for bringing such delicious wines!)
Course 2 – GRILLED WHITE PEACH & OCTOPUS SASHIMI SALAD
(w/ watermelon, edamame & wasabi). The sparkling rosé was paired with this. The presentation is so colourful! You don’t quite know where to start. Then you realize each slice of octopus (sous-vide) has a different component sitting atop it.
Chef Bestig explained his use of the tomato seeds, which he calls “the heart of the tomato”, for it’s jellylike, almost gelatinous texture. We all agreed that the grilled peach was good on its own, but together with the octopus proved to be too sweet. Other than that, great course! Octopus + watermelon + wasabi = great combo.
Course 3 – JERK CHICKEN PHŎ
(w/ roasted leg, snow peas, shiitake mushrooms & wicked sauce). Another asian fusion/inspired dish. Pasta noodles were used in place of the traditional rice noodles. Interesting idea but I think it sort of fell on deaf ears since we seemed to all prefer pho straight up, no variations.
The broth was pretty salty but the wicked sauce was precisely that, WICKED good! No lingering heat, it highlights the noodles and broth before disappearing.
Course 4 – WILD BLUEBERRY & BASIL FRENCH MARTINI SORBET
If anyone watched this season of Top Chef Canada, they’ll understand why we paused when we saw sorbet in the menu. Winner chef Carl Henrich (formerly of Marben and who will soon open Richmond Station) took a huge risk by having a sorbet be his third course in the final four-course meal!
In a six-course meal, this brilliant palette cleanser was perfect!! More please! :D
Here comes the second wine of the evening—the unfiltered Pinot Noir Cuvée “L” from Norman Hardie (@normanhardie). Slowly infiltrating wine lists at restaurants, you’re better off picking up a bottle (or 5) of this full bodied red at the winery itself.
Course 5 – GRILLED ONTARIO BEEF RIBEYE
(w/ garlic scapes, Jerusalem artichokes & Biff’s crunchy mustard butter). Okay. So how do you follow the perfect palette cleanser? With the best piece of steak that almost all of us had ever had. It truly was every facet of what a perfect piece of steak would be. (no exaggeration!)
The Jerusalem artichoke purée had just the right amount of savoury and saltiness to compliment the steak rather than be something that it’s resting on. The crunchy mustard butter was lovely but wasn’t even necessary for how perfect the meat was on its own.
Course 6 – TAYLOR FARM STRAWBERRIES & BUFFALO MILK RICOTTA
(w/ aged balsamic & pecans). Even though this was a tasting menu, Chef Bestig stuck to the unspoken O&B mantra, stay local & fresh. Being deathly allergic to pecans, he omitted them for my dish (thanks!). Had the strawberries been served cool, it would’ve hit that high note even more. If the steak didn’t do the job, the buffalo ricotta topped everyone off for good.
After this epic tasting, I was ready to walk all the way home…all 40km of it. I was that stuffed!! Huge thanks to Andrew for organizing the dinner and Chef Markus Bestig of course for planning and creating such a memorable tasting!!
The restaurant is quite wide...think about it, two patios?!
Verdict: A couple weeks later and I’m still dreaming about that ribeye. Will any steak in the future top that? Hard to say because it was that amazing! We all asked Chef Bestig if he could PLEASE put it on the regular menu so who knows…maybe I’ll be having it again soon. The service here was very attentive and welcoming. I’d like to advance reserve my spot at next year’s tasting please! ;D
Check ‘em out! http://www.oliverbonacini.com/Yonge-Front.aspx/
5 out of 5 NOMs