Tuesday, April 01, 2008

a seat at the kitchen table (2)

Previously: The 15-course Kitchen Table tasting menu at Colborne Lane, where kitchen successes are leading duds 7-1 at halftime.

Dish 9 (Partial)
Dish 9: Arctic char sitting atop tofu, served with dabs of orange marmalade. This picture was taken too soon as a mushroom jus was the finishing touch, which blended nicely with the marmalade.

Dish 10
Dish 10: Venison, parsnip puree, amaranth, mushrooms, huckleberry sauce and beet jelly.

Venison is a meat I have fond memories of eating while living in England due to the reactions I provoked in my housemates whenever I prepared it. This was during the Mad Cow scare of '97 and everyone thought I had lost my marbles, since at first glance I appeared to be eating beef patties. Reassurances never dispelled their fears, as if I was pulling a fast one on them. Colborne Lane's rendition was juicy and tender, a piece of meat I could have happily eaten a few more ounces of.

The surprise was the parsnip puree. Attempts to eat parsnips in any form have not gone well in the past, despite the efforts of good chefs. This version I quickly shovelled away, possibly because other flavourings dulled the normal gag-inducing taste of the vegetable.

Dish 11
Dish 11: A trio of treats for the final meat course. Left to right: gnocchi with double-smoked bacon and green beans, short rib with sunchoke puree, beef tenderloin with HP jelly. The short rib was quickly considered a highlight of the evening, with meat so tender a pin prick would have caused it to fall apart. The gnocchi and beef tenderloin were no slouches, the former earning raves all around the table.

By this point, our stomachs wondered how much more they could process, as the small plates had slowly added up.

Dish 12
Dish 12: the cheese course, featuring manchego, multi-grain crisp, fig slice, fig terrine and candied pecan. A breather before the final onslaught.

Dish 13
Dish 13: The opening round of dessert, a raspberry lover's delight. Paired were a raspberry lollipop (as in ice lolly) and freeze-dried raspberries. As one person commented, it was "more raspberry than actual raspberries."

Somewhere along the line we debated about the nature of the relationship between a pair of gentlemen sitting upstairs and their overdressed dinner companions. All we knew is on a trip to another part of the restaurants, members of our table overhead the dinner companions complain about their evening and how weird the food was. We could cross "foodies" off our list of suspected relationships.

After a pause, out came the nitro...

Stirring the Liquid Nitrogen Making Ice Cream Quickly (1)

Making Ice Cream Quickly (3)

The waiter brought in a silver bowl filled with liquid nitrogen, to which he added a mocha cream base, producing instant ice cream in front of our eyes. The steaming bowl helped cool down the warm room a bit, while we stared in fascination at the dessert being produced in front of us. Once the ice cream thickened, it was taken back into the kitchen and readied for its role in the next dish.

Dish 14
Dish 14: Deconstructed tiramisu, consisting of the mocha ice cream, ladyfingers, freeze-dried espresso and other chocolate- and coffee-based garnishes. This proved the largest serving of the night. Though I was nearing the waddling point I wound up polishing off a bowl-and-a-half, thanks to the light texture of the dish.

Dish 15, Nightcap
Dish 15: The night cap, for which we were promised another surprise. Nitrogen played a key role again, this time forming a small white nugget atop a steaming pitcher. We were urged to pop it in our mouths quickly. The nugget melted in my mouth, revealing a coffee liqueur centre. Hello nitro iced coffee bombs, which beat Dippin' Dots any day.

By the time the bill was settled, nearly five-and-a-half hours had passed since we entered the restaurant. The night flew by, a sure sign we had been entertained by the entire experience - laughing with friends and restaurant staff and enjoying the range of plates that had crossed the table.

More photos on Flickr. - JB

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