Recently visited Auberge du Pommier, Oliver & Bonacini Restaurants’ elegant eatery in North Toronto. I hadn’t been in about eight years and had heard glowing reviews of Marc St. Jacques’ food.
Joining Auberge in March, 2011, St. Jacques has impeccable credentials, having worked in fine-dining restaurants in the U.S. He spent the last four years as executive chef under the renowned Michael Mina, most recently at Michael Mina restaurant, in the Bellagio resort, in Las Vegas.
It shows, in every dish. In fact, this is, hands down, the finest meal I’ve eaten at Auberge du Pommier.
Things begin auspiciously with an amuse bouche of lobster/squash bisque, jazzed with coconut cream and a hint of curry and served in a glass demi-tasse.
Apps are equally strong. Cubes of jelly, made from smoky dashi (Japanese fish-based stock) elevate slices of buttery yellowtail sashimi. Coins of crunchy raw squash clash, texturally, with the pristinely soft fish.
Frogs’ legs, served cleverly like ‘lollipops,’ wear a razor-thin tempura coat and are improbably moist. A sorrel coulis and almond-studded remoulade offer sophisticated counterpoint.
Listed on the menu as ‘oeuf,’ an egg is cooked very slowly in an immersion circulator and emerges cloud-like, its mild flavour contrasting brilliantly with earthy chanterelle mushrooms and a truffle-accented bacon jus reduced to a chestnut-hued pool.
Two thick slabs of meaty sturgeon (farm-raised, from Idaho), are grilled to juiciness. A river fish with a distinct taste (halfway between catfish and swordfish), this sturgeon needs big flavours to stand up to it, and it gets them: a sweet/sour green-peppercorn sauce and sweet/sour red cabbage.
Very pleased to see a lemon soufflé on the dessert menu. This version is stellar, with the proper lemon tang and perfect creamy/airy texture. The soufflé is so good, in fact, that it renders its accompanying runny white-chocolate ganache superfluous.
A polished, knowledgeable serving staff adds to the evening’s pleasures.
Also adding to the evening is the room, which received a makeover about five years ago that’s rendered the space brighter, more elegant. It recalls a classy inn nestled in the French countryside – a million miles from Yonge and York Mills.
Two private dining rooms: one holds 50, for cocktails and 40, for seated dinners; the other room hosts 60, for cocktails and 40, seated.
Main dining room accommodates 120 and is available for group buyout Saturday afternoons and on Sunday.
Visit the restaurant’s site