Having just participated as a judge for the Curry Challenge (tasty but that was a lot of food!), it was almost a blessing that I wasn't involved with the Poutine Challenge. However, that didn't mean I was totally in the clear. Sean, being one of the judges for the aforementioned Poutine Challenge, invited me to go with him in sampling a few of the entries. Much like my strategy from the last time, I suggested that we have an actual meal if we were heading to the restaurants we have never tried before. First up was Nomad on Main Street featuring seasonal and sustainable ingredients.
We started things off with some Peppercorn Beef Tongue with black garlic aioli, fennel apple mustard and Parmesan potato crackers. Sliced thin and mildly sweet, the beef tongue was almost melt-in-my-mouth tender. When combined together, the 2 sauces emulated an almost horseradish finish with a tangy sweetness. Next, we had the Crispy Duck Poutine being their entry into the Poutine Challenge. It consisted of Kennebec fries, Szechuan peppercorn gravy, black garlic and chili marinated squeaky curds. The fries were crispy with plenty of potato texture. This concoction was a veritable flavour explosion with hits of pepper, saltiness, gaminess of duck and a vinegary finish. In firm bits, the crispy duck emulated a jerky-texture which was a bit too dry and hard. I found the cheese curds to be unusually firm which might've been due to the spicy marinade.
Onto our larger dishes, we were treated to a fantastic Braised Lamb with fenugreek ricotta gnocchi and cauliflower. Even before it hit the table, we were enticed by the strong aroma emanating from the dish. This was due to the concentration of lamb flavours in the silky reduction with an Indian spice influence. Gelatinous and fork tender, the 4 lamb cheeks exhibited a depth-of-flavour that was consistent with the reduction. Underneath, the gnocchi were soft and nicely spiced. Finally, the bits of cauliflower were appropriately toothsome. Next up was the Hanging Beef Tender with celeriac purée, crispy potato and red wine jus. Beautifully medium-rare, the crusted beef had a bitter finish due to the excessive char. As for the meat itself, it was naturally full-flavoured while sufficiently tender (for the cut of meat). There was no mistaking the red wine jus as it tasted as such while being properly cooked down. We found the veggies to be vibrant and still firm.
Arriving in an impressive portion, the Pork Belly was glazed with a sweet plum wine and served with garlic whipped potatoes, carrots and broccolini. Although not exactly melt-in-my-mouth moist, the belly was still succulent. It was pretty sweet from the glaze, but the pickled radicchio helped balance the flavours. The whipped potatoes were indeed garlicky, buttery and salty. Again, the veggies were on point. For dessert, we tried the Pumpkin Pie Crème Brulée with sugar cookie crumble and vanilla bean whip . It featured a thin sugar shell on top which was adequately torched. We found the custard to be silky and rich. It wasn't overly heavy with the pumpkin, but it was definitely there. After sampling all of their larger dishes, it is clear that there is a lot of potential here. I would be up for a return visit to check out their other offerings.
*2 dishes were comped*
- Well-executed dishes
- Impactful flavours
- Depending what you order, your bill could get up there