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Claudia McNeilly:  The Restaurant At Pearl Morissette

From the angular live edge wood table to the magnificent floor to ceiling windows, every architectural detail in the striking new Restaurant at Pearl Morissette announces that you’re not in rural Ontario anymore.

Not as you knew it, anyway. But now that Pearl Morissette, a pioneering winery in Jordan, Ontario, has launched a restaurant with two chefs of unusual skill and background, you should leave your preconceptions at the door.

Once seated, servers bring sparkling wine aperitifs and amuse-bouches to the table without letting you see a menu. The rest of the meal is served similarly blind. Chefs Daniel Hadida and Eric Robertson prefer the omakase-style blind tasting, which allows them to push the envelope in the kitchen.

“If you let someone see a menu before a meal, they’re usually going to start telling you about everything they see that they don’t like,” Hadida tells me. “We cook with a lot of weird ingredients, but we’re hoping our guests can trust us and try something new.”

During a visit in early March, these included scallops on the half shell with koji butter and foraged hogweed—an aromatic herb that is far more delicious than its name suggests—and bite-sized morsels of dried turnips wrapped in silky lardo ribbons.

Hadida and Robertson also prepared a potato dish made from springy potato strands, wild arugula and a creamy dollop of sea urchin puree. Each strand unfurled on the plate, transforming the simple root vegetable into a savoury, uni-infused cinnamon bun.

Later, cured Nova Scotia halibut was dusted with acidic sassafras powder made from locally foraged sassafras leaves. This was followed by succulent Cornish hen smoked over peach wood that had been gathered from the property’s peach trees.

The meal concluded with a pleasantly mellow scoop of oat ice cream, parsnip chips and crumbled chicory cake plated atop a thin layer of caramel.

At the time of our visit, the wine list included many hard-to-find Pearl Morissette wines, like the unreleased 2009 Dix Neuvieme Chardonnay, a beautifully structured, golden elixir that can only be described as pure nirvana.

Sommelier Svetlana Atcheva also regularly highlights a selection of low-intervention producers from around the world, resulting in a dining experience that transcends the standard winery restaurant. As glasses of Piedmont Nebbiolo and Nebur Vermouth are poured, it becomes clear that The Restaurant at Pearl Morissette is anything but a promotional tool for the winery. It is a bonafide dining destination—one worth travelling to Jordan to find.

The Restaurant at Pearl Morissette

3953 Jordan Rd, Jordan Station, Ontario

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