Eigensinn Farm: A whimsical dining experience to add to your culinary bucket list
|Location||449357 10th Concession|
|Dinner for two (bring your own wine)||$700|
As you approach Eigensinn Farm, you’ll most certainly ask yourself if you’ve come to the right place. But when you spot the free-roaming chickens and a mountain of empty wine bottles at the side of the gravel laneway, you’ll know you’ve arrived at this whimsical farm. And, at the heart of the whimsy, is the true definition of farm-to-table dining that the Stadtlander family intimately shares with its diners.
Located just two hours north of Toronto in Singhampton, Eigensinn Farm has established a strong reputation in the Canadian dining scene throughout the years. Situated on 100 acres of sprawling land, it’s the home (and business) of Michael and Noboyo Stadtlander. In the 1980s, Michael came to Canada from Germany and began working at Toronto restaurant, Scaramouche, alongside Jamie Kennedy. Throughout his culinary career, he was always drawn to the farm-to-table culinary movement, which is deeply engrained in Eigensinn Farm’s philosophy today. Animals roam freely and are fed an organic diet. Curly kale and tomato plants spill over the garden’s walls. It’s a complete—and welcome—dichotomy from Toronto’s downtown dining scene. Michael harvests the season’s freshest picks and transforms them into mouthwatering dishes that you and your guests will speak about for years to come. Michael’s wife, Nobuyo, is the face of Eigensinn Farm’s front of house and does a phenomenal job of curating the entire experience from start to finish.
So, how do you score a coveted reservation Eigensinn Farm, you may ask? It all starts with a call. Note: be prepared to wait a few months. Every Friday through Sunday, the Stadtlander’s host 12 guests in their home to experience an eight-course tasting menu. And, since the farm is unlicensed, diners can bring their own wine, making it an opportune occasion to uncork a bottle that’s been tucked away in the cellar. To help guests prepare wine pairings, Nobuyo sends a menu a few days beforehand.
Guests enter the dining room via a footpath made of oyster shells, which Nobuyo accurately describes as “east coast pothole filler.” To say the dining room is eclectic is an understatement, but it works. It’s a farmhouse with quirks and character galore from the crackling wood fireplace to the handmade chandelier to the random Lego figurines and seashells on the windowsills. Once in a while, the 17-year-old house cat, Tora, wanders aimlessly through the dining area—unfazed by the guests in his home.
As one would expect, the menu changes with the seasons. Michael draws inspiration from the land around him, only importing ingredients when absolutely necessary. The meal commenced with a selection of playful amuse gueule. Five parcels of joy arrived on custom-made pottery. Head cheese, a briny east coast oyster, and braised beef tongue punctuated with ginger were a just a few of delights that set the tone of what was to come. While we savoured each bite, Nobuyo decanted our bottle of 2007 ruby-hued red from Maremma.
As my guest and I sipped our wine, Nobuyo arrived with a basket of wood oven baked red fife sourdough—the steam still rising from its golden crust. It was so delicious, it required all my attention, but Noboyu provided some gentle guidance: “pace yourselves.” We were glad we did, because the next two courses were exceedingly delicious.
First up was the lobster and kale soup with lemon scented basil and parsley. The tasting notes were fresh and zingy, but not overpowering. The Newfoundland lobster was precisely executed. Some of the best I’ve had, to be honest. Next was the pan-fried Icelandic cod, which was more rustically plated than the first. A shallow pool of tomato butter provided a striking contrast to the fish’s golden coating and the saffron offered enough palate-pleasing notes to keep me coming back for more.
If a dish could describe autumn in Ontario, the fall duck salad would be one of them. What appeared to be a simple salad was bursting with flavours and textures. Candied roasted squash and chantrelles danced among the fresh greens, and a flavourful black currant, maple syrup and apple cider dressing tied all of the components together.
Before the next course, my guest and I enjoyed a self-guided tour around the property, which gave insight into Eigensinn Farm’s history and the inspiration behind each dish. We also had the opportunity to say hello to Chef and view some of his artistic creations around the property.
Shortly after we settled back into our seats, the main entrée arrived—Red Wattle pork—which tasted so pure that I had to question whether it was, in fact, pork. A knife sliced through its pale pink flesh effortlessly and it paired well with crispy potatoes (much like a German Kartoffelpuffer) and fresh vegetables from the garden.
Oftentimes, a tasting menu can decrescendo after the main, but this one continued to impress with its cheese course and desserts. A pleasing variety of fromage, including blue cheese from Quebec and five-year aged Mountainoak Gouda, were some of the highlights.
A trio of desserts were presented on a whimsical dish that Michael designed himself. It was the perfect vessel for the single-malt infused ice cream with a mulled plum, an apple tart and pear mousse with shaved chocolate.
It was bittersweet as my gastronomical journey at Eigensinn Farm came to a close with petit fours and espresso. It’s not every day that one is able to dine on a farm and experience a heightened level of cuisine—full of finesse and passion—that is akin to some of the world’s best restaurants. With Eigensinn Farm, Michael and Nobuyo have created an inimitable experience that will leave diners with plenty of memories for years to come.
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.