Other Toronto Eats…

Aside from dinner at Momofuku Daisho, I also managed to get my teeth into a number of other restaurants during my stay in Toronto. I hereby present to you Canoe, Acadia and Pure Spirits Oyster House.

CANOE

Canoe Restaurant is part of the Oliver & Bonacini Restaurant Group, a partnership founded by Peter Oliver and Michael Bonacini in 1993, a pair of restaurateurs who have since created a string of 11 successful fine dining restaurants in Ontario, Canada. Their restaurant, Auberge du Pommier, ranks highly in the guidebooks as being one of the best fine dining venues in Toronto.

Canoe bar

Canoe bar

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la vie, Osnabrück, Germany – Visit #2

la vie

la vie

Last year, I was lucky enough to be invited by Executive Chef Thomas Bühner to his restaurant la vie in Osnabrück, Germany where I had a sublime dining experience. You can read about that meal here. At that point la vie held only two Michelin stars, but last November it went on to win its third Michelin star to become one of the elite few to ever reach this special level of achievement. la vie was also a new entrant in the 2012 San Pellegrino Best Restaurant Awards and is currently ranked number 72.

la vie dining room

la vie dining room

To sample its new three-star Michelin menu, I was again invited to la vie recently where we had a 3-course lunch (four-courses is priced at €89) followed by the gastronomic 7-course Le Grand Chef tasting menu for dinner (€198) with matching wines (€285).

la vie

la vie

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Vineyard at the Stockcross

The Vineyard at Stockcross

The Vineyard at Stockcross

My first visit to The Vineyard at Stockcross in Newbury was a few years ago when I stumbled across a last minute special offer of a weekend night’s stay in one of their delightful Atrium suites for £120, a room that normally costs several hundred pounds. I was well happy, not just because of this bargain rate, but also because this 5-star hotel was truly a delight. It has a luxury Californian vineyard feel to it, boosted by the spa facilities that make this a great weekend escape. We also had an amazing meal, cooked by John Campbell who was the Head Chef at the time and helped The Vineyard to two Michelin-stars. As part of his tasting menu I had this salad which long lives in my memory as one of ‘the’ best salads I have ever tasted.

John left in 2010, and chef Daniel Galmiche, who was previously at the famous Cliveden and Michelin-starred L’Ortolan in Berkshire, has since replaced him. Daniel continues to hold a one Michelin-star at The Vineyard and occasionally features on Saturday Morning Kitchen.

Other changes since my last visit include the installation of a spectacular glass-panelled cellar in the lobby that showcases some of the 30,000 wines housed at The Vineyard, some of which are Californian award winners. Custodian of the cellar is the charming Head Sommelier Yohann Jousselin who was The Academy of Food and Wine Service’s (AFWS) 2011 UK Sommelier of the Year.

The cellar at the Vineyard at Stockcross

The cellar at the Vineyard at Stockcross

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Les Trois Garcons

Les Trois Garcons

Les Trois Garcons

When Les Trois Garcons opened in 2000, much noise was made about its fanciful décor, and justifiably so. The three men behind the restaurant, Hassan, Michel and Stefan, all interior designers, have fashioned the once Victorian pub into something of an art house and are also owners of the delicious Loungelover bar around the corner. Les Trois Garcons is eclectic and tasteful – the handbag installations, glamorous chandeliers and its display of taxidermy make the design of the restaurant nothing less than unique.

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La Portes Indes

La Portes Indes is an Indian restaurant with a difference. Opened in 1996, the food contains a Gallic twist and is inspired by the dishes of Pondicherry, an area in India that was formerly a French colony. Being a Franco-Indian restaurant it is possible to find dishes such as cassoulet de fruits de mer on the menu.

The restaurant occupies an incredibly grand space. Set over two floors, La Portes Indes has a look of the exotic to it, with a 40ft Mogul waterfall, a marble staircase and antique Indian artifacts.

The menu is plentiful with options. We started with a tandoori seared foie gras (£13.00) which was rich and unctuous. It was pleasantly sweetened by a fig and ginger chutney that matched the foie gras well.

Foie gras

Foie gras

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Le Dauphin Paris

Le Dauphin Paris is from Basque-born self-taught chef Inaki Aizpitarte who set the bistronomy (bistro-gastronomy) scene in Paris alight when he opened Le Chateaubriand. Famed for its accomplished and affordable cooking, it currently holds 9th place in the San Pellegrino 50 Best Restaurant in the World Awards. Le Dauphin is the baby sister of Le Chateaubriand and is located next door to its elder sibling. The menu at Le Chateaubriand is a no choice set menu, but at Le Dauphin, the menu offers more variety by way of a tapas-style menu with starter size portions.

The restaurant is modern with lots of marble and simply furnished. A number of tables are allocated for bookings, but there is also a central bar area for walk-in diners.

We started with corn velouté with gouda (€9) which was sublime with its lovely sweet corn flavour and beautiful creamy texture. The dashes of gouda cheese running through the velouté provided a robust contrast, and the sprinkling of fresh dill added a lovely aroma to the dish.

Corn velouté

Corn velouté

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la vie – Osnabrück, Germany

la vie restaurant was awarded its third Michelin star on 8 November 2011, about six months after my visit. Many congratulations!

la vie

la vie

I am almost embarrassed to share with you every detail of my recent dining experience at la vie, a two star Michelin restaurant in Osnabrück, Germany, because to do so would reveal to the world my 36 hours of eating gluttony. I dined at la vie at the generous invitation of Chef Thomas Bühner (and for this I can only thank you Chef). Those 36 hours were truly wondrous – we ate like kings – but eating like kings meant not only eating well, but eating a lot. And as I take a moment now to reflect on those 36 hours, I cannot help but marvel at my amazing ability to pack that much food into my body (did I mention that my blog name is A Girl HAS to Eat?).

We were scheduled to have dinner on a Saturday evening, but our 10pm arrival in Osnabruck on the Friday night before meant that Chef Bühner also delighted in feeding us a light supper (‘light’ meaning a three course meal). There was also a ‘light’ five course lunch the next day, which was followed by mini cooking demonstrations and tastings in the la vie kitchen. And all this took place before we sat down to our glorious tasting menu on the Saturday night. Wow!

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Bistro du Vin Clerkenwell

Bistro du Vin Clerkenwell recently opened in London and will be the first of several restaurants to open up as part of the Hotel du Vin chain. The restaurant is welcoming, with a warm bistro-y feel. The décor is rustic and charming, with chalky grey and bluish tones. The walls are dotted with wine memorabilia, the fireplaces and corner pieces are stacked with decorative bottles and there is a strong use of wood throughout the restaurant. The intention is to provide a neighbourhood retreat, and Bistro du Vin has done this well. Diners have the option of eating at the pewter-topped bar (the longest dining bar in London) that circles the restaurant’s open kitchen, or to dine al fresco under during the warmer summer months. And of course, there is the option of eating at one of the many tables inside the cozy retreat.

We dined as guests of the restaurant and started with a Chase marmalade vodka martini (£10), a specialty of the house, which was damn good. This was followed by a some of the oysters on offer – fine de Claires (£3.50) and Cornish (£2.50) which were both delicious and fresh. But it was the former which won my heart with its robust meatiness.

Oysters

Oysters

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