Monday, December 13, 2010

Langdon Hall (Cambridge, Ontario)

1 Langdon Drive
Cambridge, Ontario

When my boyfriend A asked me whether I wanted to go somewhere specific for my birthday or be surprised, I tried to play coy. So I gave him a hint: "voted one of the top 100 restaurants in the world this year". I was really hoping that he would get my hint and surprise me. What can I say? A birthday girl wants her cake and eat it too! Well, not only did A make a reservation at Langdon Hall, we also got to stay the night. What a great boyfriend I have!

Langdon Hall

Langdon Hall made the press earlier this year for being ranked #77 on San Pellegrino's top 100 list. It was one of only two restaurants in Canada (the other, #60, is Rouge in Calgary). Unlike my pal The Gastronomer who has been to quite a few (to name a few:#4 El Celler de Can Roca, #7 Alinea, #9 Arzak, #26 Momofuku Ssam Bar, #32 The French Laundry where The Astronomer proposed), I don't have much experience with acclaimed restaurants. I was very excited to be able to check out a Canadian one for my birthday.

I have to say that I get a little nervous going to very fancy restaurants. I know it's silly but you worry about doing the wrong thing. I could definitely feel a nervous jitteriness but our server made us feel very comfortable.

Dining Room Dining Room
Dining Room.

Our overnight stay at Langdon Hall included a 3-course dinner, as well as breakfast the next morning. After settling in to our room, which was beautifully decorated in an English country décor and included a tall, feather bed, we headed out to dinner. We had 8:30 pm reservation, but there were still quite a few diners, and it thinned out at the end of our meal.

We each got a glass of wine and were served bread with their famously homemade butter. The very knowledgeable server explained that the homemade bread was made out of the same starter sourdough made when the restaurant first opened. I had heard about this done before and thought it was a very interesting tidbit!

Homemade Bread & Butter
Homemade Bread and Butter.

After ordering, we got complementary amuse-bouches. Unfortunately, it looked suspiciously non-vegetarian, so I interrupted the description of the amuse-bouches to mention that A was vegetarian. (I did feel bad and apologized to the server...) She finished describing the bass and calamari amuse-bouche and a vegetarian amuse-bouche was promptly brought out, made of braised radishes I believe (unlike the remaining dishes, these did not come with menu descriptions and my memory, not so good!).

Seafood amuse-bouche Vegetarian amuse-bouche
Amuse-bouche time!

Our package included an appetizer, entrée and dessert, but I have included the prices from the menu. For our appetizer, A ordered the parsnip root tortellini with brown butter vinaigrette ($16). The tortellini seemed to have been fried and topped with a fried parsnip. A really enjoyed the herb jus.

Parsnip root tortellini

I had the Digby scallop ceviche ($24) to start with, remembering that my sister raved about scallop in its raw state. I'm so used to eating seared scallops but the scallops still had a silky and creamy texture. I enjoyed pairing pieces of scallop with the very thin slices of turnip and some roe.

Digby scallop ceviche

After our starter dishes were cleared, our server brought new forks and knives which confused me. Just as I was leaning in and asking A why we needed the extra utensils (I know enough that you use the outer utensils first!), our server brought our intermezzo dishes, complimentary from the chef. Aha! Mystery solved! I'm still not sure why we were offered an extra course but we very much enjoyed them.

A was served the lobster mushroom fricassée ($20), on top of a slow egg. A had never had lobster mushroom (well, neither have I!) and commented that it had a very meaty texture.

Lobster mushroom fricassée

I got to enjoy the Perth County pork jowl ($21) with a root vegetable duxelle and savoury crumble. I feel that writing a food blog, I should have know this, but that's what the internet is for: a pork jowl refers to the cheeks. It was a fatty piece of pork that was amazingly seasoned, and just slightly crispy on the outside. It reminded me of Chinese BBQ pork. I would usually cut the fat off, but I decided to eat it and it was amazing! The fat just melted in my mouth. If I had a slight criticism, it was that it was a bit too salty. I love trying something that I'm not sure I will like and ending up loving it!

Perth County pork jowl Perth County pork jowl
Perth County pork jowl.

For our main, A ordered the pumpkin and barley risotto ($24) that he thoroughly enjoyed. He wouldn't answer me when I asked how it compared to my own risotto...! I will have to try my hand at making barley risotto after attempting quinoa risotto.

Pumpkin and barley risotto
Pumpkin and barley risotto.

I really thought I was going to order a seafood dish but the confit veal tenderloin ($48) really appealed to me. I was surprised to really love the celery root purée. I'm not the biggest fan of celery flavour, but I really thought it melded perfectly with the creamy purée. I really enjoyed a little dollop on each bite of the oh-so-tender veal. The veal just melted in my mouth. I also really liked the pine mushroom crumble that looked like ground coffee on my plate. It added a sweet nuttiness to the dish.

Confit veal tenderloin
Confit veal tenderloin.

By dessert, I was very full. While we did see other diners enjoying a variety of cheese from a cart, we picked sweets to share: the orchard apple ($16) and rouge pumpkin parfait ($16). When we were done, our server asked us what our favourite and the pumpkin won hands down. The apple bavaroise covered in an eerily bright green colour was good, but nothing exciting. We did really enjoy the accompanying sorbet and could really taste the pear and Pernod (licorice flavour). The pumpkin parfait just tasted like a cold pumpkin pie mousse. The pumpkin flavour really came through in a very creamy way. Yums! (Our server also told us that the fromage blanc delice was amazing).

Pumpkin parfait Apple bavaroise
Dessert time.

Finally, a last sweet bite was served. I cannot remember the name but it was a marshmallow topped with chocolate and nuts. I have to admit that A ate most of it since I couldn't eat much more!

Marshmallow bite

The menu is seasonal and ever-changing. Many of the produce is supplied by Langdon Hall's very own garden. Our menu highlighted fall flavours with root vegetables. I'd be very much interested in tasting a spring menu (maybe one day...) and I've even discussed going back for tea with girlfriends!

As expected, the service was immaculately attentive. All the dishes dishes were well paced, allowing A and I enjoy a 3+ hour dinner. I wish I had asked more questions about the food.

Included in our package was also breakfast the next day. A beautiful buffet awaited guests in the morning.

Breakfast Buffet

I couldn't wait and served myself food from the buffet. While I did enjoy everything, the goat cheese tart was such a tasty morning treat! A was more patient and ordered Red fife pancakes from the menu. Now that I'm looking at the breakfast menu, I should really have held off for lobster & sweet corn ragoût but I couldn't eat more...

Breakfast Buffet Fyfe pancakes
My and A's breakfast.

After breakfast, A and I went for a stroll. There wasn't much left in the garden, but we were still able to find some leeks, beets, fennel and even raspberries. I can imagine that a visit in the spring or summer when the garden is bountiful would be amazing to see!

Garden Leeks Garden Beets
Garden finds.

Langdon Hall is definitely a "special occasion" place and I was lucky to get to experience it! I also feel very proud that two Canadian restaurants made the top 100 restaurant list, and just for that reason I think a special occasion is warranted!

Langdon Hall on Urbanspoon


Elle said...

the ceviche looks amazing!

Gastronomer said...

I don't know what took me so long to read this, but WOW! Go, A! Dinner, an overnight stay, and breakfast -- LOVE IT! Happy birthday, Lechon! Let's go to a fancy resto the next time we're in America together.