Canoe is a well-reviewed restaurant serving nouvelle Canadian cuisine. It is part of a restaurant group similar to Patina. I was surprised to be dropped off at a high-rise office building with instructions to take an elevator up to the top floor.
Sometimes I order things that sound strange because I am daring the restaurant to make it taste good, which is how I ended up drinking a "Locust". It is a combination of Grasshopper wheat beer, ginger ale, and Limoncello. And you know what? It worked. Far better than a shandy. After that one experiment, I went for my usual champagne - they had my favorite, Perrier Jouet with the flowers on it.
I started with a chowder of Ontario fiddlehead ferns and BC spot prawns. Fiddleheads are kid of like asparagus, only grassier, maybe a little like pea shoots. It was topped with a wild leek and yukon rouille, a Provencial French sauce for soups. Yes, only the French would think a soup needs a sauce.
Next I was a little daring and had a plate from the tasting menu - Potato gnocchi with crispy sweetbreads and foie gras. The sauce/foam was rich with cream and morel mushrooms. The person who was delivering plates and explaining the ingredients had a very strong French-Candian accent, and I couldn't understand hardly anything he said. In the dim restaurant, it was difficult to make out what was what. The waiter, who I was loving, was staring at the plate trying to help me make out the individual ingredients. You know you are in an expensive restaurant when the waiter is willing to stand and ponder your dinner with you. Suddenly I remembered in a pack-for-emergencies moment I had thrown a Mag light in my bag. So I shone a spotlight on the dish, sweetbreads were identified, and voila!
I was brought an intermezzo of a celery foam. I expected a light refreshing palate cleanse, but there was a layer of salt on top that was so intense, instead my palate received an intensive salt scrub by a vicious Swedish masseuse. Uncle! Uncle! I'm cleansed! My palate is immaculate! I give in!
For my main dish I ordered the bison striploin with North woods mushrooms, confit potatoes and a peppercorn sauce that was similar to a bernaise. There was such a treasure trove of exciting new mushrooms to try - Black trumpet, cinnamon cap, yellow foot, blue foot, and more, that I ate them all before I remembered to take a picture. The confit potatoes were so delicious I am just going to start cooking everything in duck fat from now on. Meatloaf? Confit! Apple pie? Confit!
The buffalo was lovely - kind of like beef with a taste of the wild. It's strange that I am not usually a fan of game, but I love buffalo. Maybe it is my native roots. Or maybe it is the fact that when I was growing up my mom had a freezer stuffed full of buffalo meat. I never knew where it came from. Or if it was really buffalo. Recently when I asked about it she told me she had traded for it.
Check out this crazy Dr Seuss garnish
I only have one memory of my great-grandmother Hopkins. We were at a rare family picnic somewhere in BC. I was asking her what saskatoons looked like. She said, "Well, they look...like that!" We had stumbled upon some wild bushes and picked enough to bring back to the picnic. Canoe had a dessert that came with saskatoons, which the waiter was kind enough to bring me on the side, and they made me a little maudlin.
I have been going easy on desserts, but I had to try Sticky Toffee Pudding made with Glen Breton Rare Whiskey, Toffee Sauce and Parsnip ice cream. Seriously. Standing alone, the parsnip ice cream was successful, but didn't do anything for me. When my waiter convinced me to try it together with everything in one bite, it did actually make it good. Trippy. This is the third time in a month I have seen kumquats in a fancy restaurant, so I guess they are an up-and-coming fruit.
I loved the service I loved the atmosphere and I loved the food. I loved the chef, Anthony Walsh, so much I sent him a glass of champagne. The dishes were all creative but based upon local ingredients. They definitely disproved the theory that restaurants with views all suck.
Downstairs there were two city blocks of taxis waiting. Normally you go to the first taxi in the line, but it was cold, and that first taxi was really far away. So I opened the door of the nearest taxi and asked what the pecking order was. He said there wasn't one, so I hopped in. Within seconds, there was another cabbie at the driver's window, screaming in his face that he was stealing fares and he knew I should go in the first taxi. I thought about getting out and going to the first taxi, but then the guy screamed in the window, "I am going to fucking stomp your fucking face in!" I didn't really want to get in his taxi after that. So my cabbie and I drove off with the guy still grabbing at the window.