Artisinale – French Country Dining in GuelphAug 8th, 2012 | By Peter Minakis | Category: Canadiana, Down Home, Featured, French, Guelph, Ontario, Talk Toronto
There’s a lot going on in Toronto these days, so much that sometimes you just want to get out of the city, away from the traffic, the phone calls, kids and any of life’s daily pressures. A trip out of the city can recharge your batteries and despite Toronto’s growing problems we have the countryside just kilometres away from the concrete jungle and quaint, slow-paced communities like Guelph offering a respite from urban life.
I recently took a drive to Guelph, Ontario to have dinner at the recently relaunched Artisinale restaurant on Woolwich Street in a historical/landmark building that could easily fit into rural France. For added effect, we avoided traveling to Guelph via the 401 and took the side roads through Halton passing farms Ontario greenland and the top edge of the Niagara escarpment.
Artisanale’s approach is to offer a taste of French country cooking using the very best of local fruits & vegetables, meat and fish all from the Guelph area. Owner/chef Yasser Qahalwish. Our maitre’D was French (coaxed back into restaurant life after seeing Chef’s commitment to local sourcing of food) and we were seated with a local farmer to chat about the food that he took part in bringing to our plates.
Greg of Whole Circle Farms told s about how he gave up the corporate life to pursue his dream of owning/running a farm that produces wholesome fruits, vegetables and herbs and he also introduced us to the other local farms in the area that are suppliers to Artisinale and the evening’s French Country menu.
For me, one of cornerstones of any good service is the bread that an eating establishment serves and Artisanle’s locally-sourced bread with local butter set the evening off to a good tone. Unsalted butter smeared on light, airy country bread with a good crust.
Our salad course reminded me of the Mediterranean with the serving of a fava bean fritter and a beet salad with a local young ‘s milk cheese. Clean flavours, seasoned lightly so as not to distract from the wonderful, fresh flavours of the beats, greens and fava in the fritter.
Our main was lamb…boy do I love lamb and I’ve been a touting Ontario lamb for ages (my apologies New Zealand). The whole lamb (bone-in, of course) was seasoned with salt and pepper and served to medium with some crispy skin and a lamb jus that was wonderful to swipe the meat in and it didn’t hurt that the roasted potatoes soaked up some of that jus.
Dessert can be the best course of the night or the most memorable. I think most memorable is better and all of us were left wanting more of the Summer Berries soup which was a meringue and sabayon floating in a pure berry sauce spiked with some icing sugar.
I’m looking forward to heading back in Artisinale in the Fall when the harvest bounty is at the disposal of Chef Yasser. Bypass the 401 to Guelph and take a country road through Halton and enjoy the scenery…soft hills, countless farms and imagine as you approach Guelph how many of these farms may in fact be supplying the food that’s about to be eaten at your table.
214 Woolwich Street Guelph, ON N1H 3V7, Canada
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