|Location||114 Queen Street|
|Brunch for two (with dessert)||$120|
While I like nothing more than dining in Toronto, there’s something refreshing for both the mind and the palate about getting away to a more tranquil setting. Taking a short trip around Lake Ontario to Niagara region is a must-do for any city-dweller. When I’m there, experiencing the region’s food and wine are always my top priority.
Treadwell Cuisine, tucked off Niagara-on-the-Lake’s flower-lined main street, has made a name for itself with its down-to-earth atmosphere and farm-to-table philosophy. Chef/co-owner Stephen Treadwell is the man behind it all. He brings his refined palate and culinary expertise from training in some of the finest kitchens in England, Sweden and Switzerland. His son, James Treadwell, recently joined him as sommelier/co-owner to help create the perfect union of food and drink—all backed by a strong family tie.
After hearing rave reviews I stopped in for brunch with my date on my way back to the city. Not having a reservation, we were fortunate to score two bar seats overlooking the open kitchen (the BEST spot to watch all the action). The quaint 32-seat dining room was the perfect balance of contemporary and rustic, creating a sense of familiarity. The enclosed patio was also bustling, even on a crisp day. The sun radiated just enough warmth and dappled light.
Stephen Treadwell’s training from being at the helm of Oliver & Bonacini’s iconic French restaurant Auberge du Pommier was evident in the taste and artistry of the food. My toughest task of the day was selecting dishes from the menu.
Elements of French cuisine infused familiar dishes we all know and adore. For example, a classic club was elevated with a luscious lobster filling. It was sandwiched between thin seedy bread that had been grilled in just the right amount duck fat. The side salad with locally-picked produce was a nice counterpoint to the heaviness of the duck fat. Although satisfying in every way, the filling was sparse and could have used more lobster chunks. We also shared the “Harvest 365” salad. If caprese and panzanella could be crossed, this would be result. Colourful heirloom tomatoes were balanced by chunks of juicy Niagara peaches. The water buffalo fresco gave the right amount of tartness and the focaccia croutons and crispy basil provided the textural elements that really complete a dish. The natural juices from the peaches and tomatoes, coupled with a bit of olive oil and balsamic gave the perfect amount of acidity.
The main course of crispy skin rainbow trout (which wasn’t exactly crispy) was memorable for its truffle scrambled eggs. Although truffle is overused (and overrated in my opinion), I enjoyed faint flavour from the oil. Using real truffles would have been too overpowering and expensive, although having the word “truffle” in the dish might justify to a sceptical client why it cost $21. And it provided a nice complement to the earthiness of the trout. The fingerling potatoes that surrounded the shallow bowl were heavily coasted in mustard seeds. My favourite part of this dish was the nasturtium garnish. The dainty leaves were plucked from the plant right before our eyes. It tasted as it should—peppery and fresh.
We couldn’t say “no” when the server set the dessert menu before us. Chocolate was an easy sell, so we settled on the petit gateau (dark chocolate cake, salted caramel and white chocolate ice cream). One bite of succulent cake made me want to order about ten more. I don’t care what anyone says, but chocolate, unlike truffle, is always à la mode. The salted caramel centre oozed out and the grains of coarse Maldon salt melted on my tongue. The salt was an unexpected twist. The white chocolate gelato that contrasted the dark cake was a pure and unequivocal adult pleasure. C’était simplement délicieux!
I should also mention that we ordered some pinot gris from the wine menu, but didn’t go crazy because we were driving. I sipped on a latte and then drip coffee throughout my meal, which was refilled who-knows-how-many times since the cups were essentially shot glasses.
The service was consistent with the food—something I always look for. Our server was as sweet as the dessert we ate, and she made us feel so welcome that we almost didn’t want to leave. She handled a diner next to us who had a FULL page of ingredients she was “allergic” to and complained every two seconds, with tact and grace. Bravo!
While Stephen Treadwell wasn’t there, his team operated like a well-oiled machine that you’d see at a fine dining establishment. Throughout our meal, we witnessed the team of artists hard at work. They sampled flavours. They plated with care. They laughed and let their personalities shine. You could tell they were in their element—and it showed on the plates. They allowed the ingredients to shine in their purest form, highlighting artisans from the region. Side note: the back of the menu has an extensive list of local suppliers that changes every season. I appreciated every effort to prepare a meal where no corners are cut. Treadwell Cuisine sets the bar high for a true farm-to-table cuisine. À la prochaine, Treadwell Cuisine. I’ll see you again the next time I’m in town.
Mme M. xoxo
La rubrique de Madame Marie
1 étoile – Run. Before you get the runs.
2 étoiles – Mediocre, but nothing you couldn’t make at home.
3 étoiles – C’est bon, with some standout qualities.
4 étoiles – Many memorable qualities and excellent execution. Compliments to the chef.
5 étoiles – Formidable! Michelin Star quality. Book a reservation immediately.