Three small spoonfuls of caviar — each topped with a tiny frond of dill — were resting, invitingly, on a small bed of smoked capelin–infused custard, its jiggly texture an ideal counterpoint to enhance the sensual pop of those little eggs on the tongue. And what’s this that sommelier Brie Dema is bringing our way? Flutes of Robert Moncuit Grand Cru Réserve Perpétuelle Blanc de Blancs Extra Brut? Nice choice, Brie, thank you.
It was April 2nd, the day before Ontario was scheduled to descend into a province-wide lockdown. And my wife and I were settling in for an emergency tasting menu at the chef’s counter at Elora Mill, in Wellington County — where indoor dining was still permitted — for four more hours. We made the most of it.
Well, no. Chef Jonathan Gushue, his sous-chef, Dacha-Danijel Markovic, and the rest of his team at Elora did that. We just watched, ate and enjoyed ourselves. Raw tuna in jalapeño-spiked tomato water, texturally enhanced with sliced young radish. A dazzling tartare of woodcock and diced oyster, enriched with grated cured egg yolk and the spicy zing of nasturtium. Then, salt cod–filled tortellini in a dark mushroom consommé, the high-low contrast of seared foie gras with soft kohlrabi, brightened with sea buckthorn and sesame. And onwards, to a perfectly à point loin of rabbit, baked beets sauced with rhubarb, and roast mallard, crisp and succulent, with smoky cabbage and a bright lettuce-and-bacon nage. It added up to a timely reminder of why we love great restaurant cooking — and its power to lift the spirits. Back for more soon, hopefully.
Photo Credit: (Portraits) Lila Lavereau Photography. (Exterior) VP Studios.