Monday, June 8, 2009

Benny’s Bistro

The fact that it took me this long to visit this impeccable little gem makes me very sad. Many years ago when I used to work in the market, I heard they had great soup, and would duck in and get some to take out, not even looking at the rest of the menu. The soup was indeed fantastic, but I'm kicking myself now for leaving it at that. No reason to dwell on the past now though. I can easily add them to my tiny list of restaurants I consider to be 5 stars. I must admit however, I did get some pretty special treatment. My husband and I met chef Scott Adams at an Urban Element event where we immediately fell in love with his cooking style and amazing dishes. Today is my birthday and my husband asked me where I wanted to go, Benny’s Bistro immediately rolled off my tongue. This modest bistro is bright and casual with a seasonal menu that will leave you speechless. I finally decided on the salmon gravlax with yukon gold potato & doubled creamed feta dumpling, pickled red cabbage, tarragon and flying fish roe crème fraîche. My husband went for the pan-seared sea scallops, spring pea and sunchoke purée, sweet soy braised pork belly, shaved carrot and pea shoot salad, smokey bacon and cider vinaigrette. Sounds amazing doesn't it? We ended up not having either, but I thought I'd write it down to get your taste buds going. This is where the special treatment kicks in. Knowing we are open to just about anything, and I'm guessing the fact that it was my birthday, Scott came over and asked if we'd be interested in doing a 3 course lunch of his choice. I LOVE doing that! So trying to stay focused and not fall off my chair from excitement, I calmly said yes. 

Our first dish, a so-called amuse-bouche that could have easily been divided into four, was seared yellowfin tuna collar. This silky taste of heaven was served with a chervil and beet salad lightly drizzled with oil and with a tiny teaser of dijon to give it a bit of spice. A fantastic start to say the least!

Next came the absolute best soup I have ever had in my entire life, no lie. A shitake mushroom purée that had an alluring smokey flavour. In the center of this dreamy potage layed a slice of sweet soy and apple brushed pork belly and grilled scallop. The combination of each of these ingredients was perfect – I don't know how else to put it. PERFECT.

Our main was a tender, mouthwatering onglet de boeuf nestled between a fried egg and an arugula and colourful new potato salad – purple, red, white and yellow ones to be exact. And the meat was cooked to perfection, red and juicy inside. The sampling of moroccan olive tapenade on the side added a wonderful saltiness to the dish. To drink we had the delicious Oyster Bay Sauvignon blanc.

For dessert, a beautiful candle lit chocolate mousse covered in slivered chocolate flakes and paired with a rhubarb purée reminded me of being a kid again. I used to love black forest cake and the combination of the cherry and chocolate. This is the adult version and so indulgent. 

I can't say enough about this marvelous restaurant. I just wish they were open for dinner and that my work was not so far away. I highly recommend a reservation. I think we just got lucky as they can get quite busy. Also give yourself a bit of time, this is not a lunch to be rushed. Although a sandwhich and soup could easily be taken out. It's perfect with a friend, on a business lunch or on your own. Sandwich and salad goes for $13, mains $14 to $19 with an added cup of soup, salad or cheese plate for $5. 

Thanks so much Scott! We had a great time.

Benny's Bistro on Urbanspoon

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