Summerlicious 2011: Auberge du Pommier

18 Jul

It’s my first year participating in Toronto’s Summerlicious and I was quite excited to begin what is starting to look like an annual tradition for me, at Auberge du Pommier.
Auberge is one of the many restaurants in Toronto opened by the prolific and successful Oliver & Bonacini Company. Among the O & B family of restaurants include Toronto’s favourites such as Canoe, and Luma (both of which are also participating in Summerlicious but sadly I couldn’t book reservations fast enough). So of course I was thrilled to try Auberge, which boasts the title of being “the original jewel in the Oliver & Bonacini crown”. That and Auberge’s modern french menu is usually mad expensive and Summerlicious gives you a chance to try a 3 course set dinner for only $45 a person.

The exterior of the restaurant is beautiful, small and rustic–reminds me of going to someone’s home for dinner.

A gorgeous cottage-like facade and windows with SHUTTERS!! ok, now i’m impressed because what kind of restaurant on Yonge and freakin Yorkmills have shutters.

I was almost sad to go inside but to my delight, was led out onto their gorgeous patio. It looks almost like a green house or I guess you can call it a conservatory (according to Clue, though this one was cute and not at all like somewhere Mr. Mustard could get off-ed)

It looks like I’m being a creep and taking photos of other diners but I wanted to snap a shot of the cute matronly table cloths and the super swanky waiters. A lot of them spoke with incredibly unintelligible, but delightful, french accents. It must have been a requirement on the job application.

Got some olives to keep us busy after ordering from the Summerlicious menu (see menu here
The marinated olives were typical olives. I have a hot and cold relationship with olives, I hate the idea of them and the taste of them but I react positively to their aftertaste. “I guess olives taste like shit no matter where they’re from” was my statement upon putting the first one in my mouth. This was soon after contradicted by myself when I couldn’t resist but to have another. “Okay it tastes like crap” was what I said this time…then I ate yet another and so on wtf!

Next came bread with this INCREDIBLE pureed asparagus spread that you wouldn’t think could outdo butter but it was so rich, light but creamy at the same time.

Appetizer 1: Pâté de Campagne en Gelée

A terrine (basically a brick like thing of meat) of what my palate guessed was chicken liver, ham, and ground pork. Honestly, it tasted like spam but really tasty spam. The gelée ontop (those translucent cubes on top of the pâté) were pickled and quite salty. Nice to look at but didn’t really do anything for me. Beside the whole thing is a really yummy bed of Alsatian potato salad with mustard sauce. Overall, a really nice appetizer but not outstanding.

Appetizer 2: Cucumber Melon Gazpacho

Excuse for this hideous photo but it was so good I couldn’t be bothered with taking a better one. So keep in mind the more ugly it looks in the photo, the better it was in real life. This was my favourite of the meal because chilled soup is great for a hot balmy day and the savoury-ness of the pureed cucumber played off of the sweet melon flavours really well. The consistency was slightly thicker than soup but lighter than a typical puree. The shrimp sitting on top of each melon chunk was just ok though. (watch executive chef Marc St. Jacques make this gazpacho step by step! maybe I’ll try this )

Main 1: Tranche de Saumon
As you can see, the salmon was actually cooked very well. Outside seared nice and golden but when you cut it open, the inside is still pink and tender. Though the fish was by no means dry, i wished there was more moisture from the rest of the dish. That swoosh of green on the side is a pesto made of sorrel (a european plant used in salads usually). It was a nice pop of colour but definitely lacked both flavour and moisture. The bed of smashed potatoes were alright, it was just nice to have some starch. What was fantastic about this dish was the forest mushrooms, soooo flavourful!

Main 2: Medallion de Boeuf
Roasted tenderloin of beef with a watercress and tomato salad. Beef is not bad at all. It was medium well but would have been better rare (like how I have all my steaks) but they never even asked! This I found really weird because almost all places will ask for your doneness preference, but oh well. Roasted potatoes and the salad were nice and the Bordelaise (red wine) vinaigrette was actually out of this world! Just enough tanginess and sweetness to make up for the stupid medium-rareness of the steak.

Dessert 1: Chevre des Alpes
This is was wedge of firm French Alps goat cheese, which was incredibly sharp and earthy at first but the more you eat it, the more mild and creamy it became. Really good with the wafer thin nut bread toast. Also came with this tangy cherry gelatine and swishes of cherry compote on the plate. A very nice end to the meal if you prefer something not overwhelmingly sweet.

Dessert 2: Nougat Glacé
the frozen nougat was actually quite soft and pillowy. The local ontario strawberries were also very fresh. This is definitely more of a rich and sweet dessert, not bad at all!
Overall, my dining experience at Auberge was awesome. I loved the atmosphere and attentive/ultra fancy service the most (got my napkin placed on my lap, awkward but like, definitive of fancy ok?)
The quality of the food was proportionate to the price but obviously, could have been better. The food could have also been more creative but I forgive that since Summerlicious typically means a more streamlined and friendly to the mass public menu than usual.
Would I go back? Definitely for a special occasion since it can be pricey, I would love to try some of their usual items when Summerlicious is over.

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