ORIGINALLY DESIGNED to serve oenophiles making the pilgrimage to taste François Morissette’s idiosyncratic wines, the Niagara region’s Restaurant Pearl Morissette has steadily grown into a gourmet destination in its own right. RPM attracts first-time visitors to Jordan Station for the express purpose of dining here and, in the experience, makes repeat customers of them.
Under chefs Daniel Hadida and Eric Robertson, the initial farm-to-fork ethos remains. “Our restaurant was founded on a holistic approach to regenerative practices and processes — purchasing beautiful ingredients directly from a community of purveyors and presenting them in ways that delight our customers,” says Hadida. “And this is unchanged.”
This network of farmers, ranchers, foragers and fishermen is integral to RPM. Before the restaurant opened, the chefs toured the region, meeting suppliers who shared similar values, most of whom they still work with to this day. Many are now close friends.
Suppliers often shape the menu. “Having a local farmer walk unannounced into the bakery with the most perfectly sweet rapini greens means a brisket sandwich idea becomes more about the flavour and texture of the peppery brassicas,” notes Hadida.
Cultivating the 42-acre property, gardener-forager Deirdre Fraser and farmer Shane Harper have both played pivotal roles in the evolution of the restaurant, fuelling a mutually beneficial environment that encourages creativity and experimentation with ingredients and techniques.
As the kitchen has grown more comfortable with its pantry, the chefs have refined the ways in which they utilize it. This confidence has inspired them to transition from occasional simplicities like glazed cod with roast cabbage to more complex and nuanced dishes, like geoduck with roasted-vegetable glaze, preserved-ginger vinaigrette and toasted-wild-rice salad.
Over the past five years, RPM has matured from a small dining room for wine-tasting guests into one of the country’s top restaurants, attracting food and wine lovers from all over the world.
Photos: Jim Norton