Last night I was invited to RICHMOND STATION (1 Richmond St. West www.richmondstation.ca) just a couple of blocs from the hotel and was surprised when we arrived that only a sign outside indicating RESTAURANT showed the location! We entered into a small space with a bar and numerous tables opposite which I thought was the whole place, but were then escorted up a short flight of steps to an expansive upper level with one large room facing the open kitchen as well as one smaller private dining space. It was nice to be further away from the door (cold air!) and bar (more noise) in this more intimate space where we were served by Mark as well as the manager Steve, who suggested that the chef just cook for us as we could not decided on what to eat. The menu is not huge, but it is very varied and we enjoyed every single item that came out for what ended up being almost 4 hours!
The wine list offered many wines by the glass and we were immediately drawn to the Ontario options and started with a bottle of Rosehill Run Chardonnay 2012 from Prince Edward County about 2 hours to the east where the wine business has been steadily growing over the last decade! The Cuvee Richmond Station is bottled for the restaurant has a crisp mineral taste and is mostly steel barrel fermented that really hints back to the true French chardonnays and has nothing to do with those oaky, vanilla-intense California ones of the same varietal.
Soon enough we each received a small plate with a pairing (see photos on FB) of a New Brunswick Village Bay Oyster on one side and a Beef Tartare on top of a deep fried triangle of Pommes Kennedy topped with a Bloody Mary clamato gel. The tartare was amazing even if the potato triangle was still just a bit oily from the frying. I can't recall ever having a New Brunswick oyster (and I know I have had many from both coasts of Canada which I love), but this mollusk was indeed a plump morsel.
Next came two house specialties that blew us away (everything from here on was served family style):
Pate en Croute made from Rabbit & Pork with a pork stock gelee and Leek Mostarda which was truly a brilliant construction in beauty and even more amazing in the mouth.
Duck Liver Pate(whipped) with Apple Mostarda on Brioche which was as rich as could be, but truly an explosion of flavors in the mouth
On the side was a small salad of Arugula and Mushrooms with Pickled Shallots.
Steve said that we needed to have the Charcuterie plate as everything is made in house and indeed the restaurant practices whole animal butchery so that nothing is wasted; a truly admirable goal for any establishment. After the Duck Pate and Pate en Croute, how could we disagree! He then brought over a glass of Coat-Albret Brut(hence no sweetness) Hard Cider from Normandie that was an amazing pairing with all the varied meat options on the platter:
Culatello-a prosciutto like creation of inside pork round
Venison Piemontese-easily the best venison charcuterie I have ever had made even richer with red wine!
Pork/Rabbit/Lamb Terrine made with Medjool Dates (need I say more?)
Grilled Lamb Sausage
Grilled Summer Beef & Pork Sausage
and finally House Cured Lardo whipped to perfection with black pepper, Maldon Sea Salt & Rosemary.
Different mustards adorned the platter (the FB photo shows this amazing work of art in the butchery department!)
Now everything was amazing but the venison stood out for it's novelty and the terrine was truly terrific, but it was the unsuspecting Lardo that we all went loco for.
Spread on a piece of bread it came off as an amazingly seasoned tasty whipped "butter" with gusto that we simply could not resist!!
Steve joked that it was the perfect spread for your breakfast toast!
We continued with one of my favorite Canadian winemakers who has almost become a cult up here and indeed Richmond Station does not advertise they have the wines on the menu, but keep them for special guests! The Norman Hardie 2014 Prince Edward County Pinot Noir is a dreamy pinot that equals any from Oregon or France with guts. Next year if we return to Toronto outside of the bleak wintertime, I am surely going to try and plan a trip to Prince Edward County!
Our next course was the Pan Roasted (deliciously crispy skinned) Euro Bass served atop a Brassica Caesar Salad made of greens with Brussels sprouts, white anchovy & Caesar dressing. While the fish itself was delicious, the salad needed a bit more oomph and all I could have asked for would have been some of those amazing anchovies from Italy, we just could not seem to find them!
Three main courses arrived and we decided to tackle them each one by one:
Rabbit Two Ways offered up a Leg & Croquette with Celeriac Puree, House Cured Smoked Bacon and was the specific dish I had asked for and was rewarded with a real winner as each bite had a different flavor and texture and really showed off the kitchen's amazing technique for variety.
Fleishnacko is a rolled pasta stuffed with pork and I can only describe as "pate en pasta"stuffed with pork cooked sous-vide and paired with Grilled Pork Loin in Mushroom Gravy, Pork Stock, Cippolini Onions.
The Venison Tenderloin shined cooked just past rare and served with potatoes, root veggies in a mushroom & red wine jus that was out of this world; the meat melted in our mouths!
J.M. Sohler 2013 Pinot Gris from Alsace was a treat as well!
The though of dessert scared us so we suggested just one to share and the Coconut Tart (very deconstructed-sorry no photo) with London Fog Cheese Cake, Earl Grey Ice Cream and Seabuckthorne puree was loads of fun and a glass of Tawse Niagara Ontarioa Riesling Ice Wine was simply the icing on the cake (or tart if you prefer!)
I am sure I have to come back again next year and revisit Richmond Station for sure as this was indeed one of Toronto's best dining experiences ever!!