Sherman's Food Adventures: Farmer's Apprentice

Farmer's Apprentice

Named one of Canada's best new restaurants by EnRoute Magazine over 2 years ago, Farmer's Apprentice has been on my bucket list since.  However, each time we planned to go, it was during their annual vacation.  This time around, we persevered and booked a time right after they got back.  However, their once simple farm-to-table menu became even simpler with a set $55.00 dinner consisting of 7 tasting courses.  With fairly high expectations, we all decided on the Omnivore menu.

Being a bit anti-climatic, our favourite dish of the meal was the first being the Fermented Tomato Dashi.  As simple as it appeared, the flavours practically exploded with hits of aromatic tartness from last year's heirloom tomatoes.  Also, the use of kombu added an umaminess that was further heightened by the oregano oil.  Either I was super hungry or I was off my game since I decided to start eating my Warm Kale Salad before I took a photo of it.  We had to reconstruct one (messily I might add) for that purpose.  The slightly wilted kale was complimented by pickled coronation grapes, toasted buckwheat and cashew cream.  This was pretty tasty as the vinaigrette was impactfully acidic and slightly sweet.  I thought the ingredients were well-thought out and harmonized with each other including the smooth and aromatic cashew cream.

We then moved onto the first of two proteins with the Albacore Tuna with cabbage and carrot jus. High quality and buttery soft, the tuna was naturally sweet and emanated a taste of the sea.  There was a very mild sweetness from the jus which let the tuna shine, but could've used a bit more punch.  After this dish, the wait for the Mangalitsa Pork with poached pear was nearly 40 minutes long. Not sure what the problem was, but that is not good pacing in our opinion.  Even though the pork was on point in its preparation being tender with a touch of pink, the dish as a whole was underwhelming.  We found that the mustard and pork jus was far too low-key (albeit pleasantly sweet)The pork itself didn't have enough inherent flavour to stand on its own.

Next, we were served a visually stunning and whimsical dish sporting a slice of Celery Root topped with prosciutto and egg yolk.  Served on the side were Red Fife Parker Rolls accompanied by onion butter.  Unlike the rest of the table (their reception was lukewarm), I liked individual components of the dish.  The egg yolk was perfectly runny where I soaked it up with the warm rolls that benefited from the sweet and aromatic whipped onion butter.  Although the prosciutto added the necessary saltiness, I was indifferent with the starchy root.  For dessert, we were served grated Frozen Gala Apples with elderflower sherbert and meringue.  We were universally unimpressed with this as there were whole clumps of frozen and bland apples.  As much as the tart sherbert saved the dish from being flavourless, it wasn't enough to change our minds.

Arriving with the final bill, we were treated to little bites consisting of Corn Bread with whey cream.  These little bites were almost crunchy and a pleasant end to a decent, yet not particularly memorable tasting meal.  Over the next week I thought about it the meal some more to see if our expectations were too high.  However, despite the reasonable-pricing ($55.00) for the tasting menu, there wasn't enough there to make us return.  Strangely, Viv and I much preferred our visit to their sister restaurant (Grapes & Soda). To be fair, the meal was still good execution-wise while the service was solid.

The Good:
- Meal as a whole was executed properly
- Attentive service
- Ingredients were fresh and good quality

The Bad:
- Flavours were not impactful (as if something was missing)
- With only 2 menus available per month, there are limited options