Friday, June 19, 2009

The Black Tomato

The Black Tomato is a pretty local-driven restaurant with good food, a great atmosphere (unless it’s the middle of summer and scorching hot – they’re in a heritage building that doesn’t allow them to install air conditioning, so if you aren’t so lucky to get a spot on the patio you may end up cooking inside – I have no idea how the kitchen staff survive), and ok service (nothing special). They’ve been around for a while and so has their menu. I used to go quite regularly until a year or two ago when I had bad service and was honestly just bored seeing the same dishes over and over. So when they renovated and opened a new section in the restaurant, I assumed the change would also bring a menu update. Not so. There were a few new dishes since my last visit, but overall, pretty much the same. Although disappointing to me, it doesn’t seem to bother anyone else, as they continue to be super busy. Thankfully, I hadn’t been in a while, so I no longer felt so uninspired by the menu, and actually had a hard time deciding between a few of the dishes. 

We started off with the cheese board. As described on the menu, creamy Soignon Caractère de Chèvre, Bleu de Sophie (Oxford Mills ON) blue cheese and the deliciously Tomme de Gaston (Oxford Mills ON) cheese. Accompanied by dried apricots, fruit, walnuts, honey and crackers, all designed to bring out each cheese’s rich and complex flavours. If you’re looking at the photo, yes, this is the cheese plate. I know, hard to find the cheese. The description should have read, fruit plate accompanied by some cheese. I did enjoy the walnuts drizzled in honey though. The few morsels of cheese I had were also very good, but a pretty big tease. 

I was much happier with my main, Smoked Wild BC Sockeye Salmon harvested using sustainable methods, marinated in delicious maple syrup and flavoured with a hint of garlic. The salmon is then smoked to perfection and served on a potato cake (with bacon) and accompanied by market vegetables. This dish was indeed fantastic. I love maple and smoked salmon and I have a huge weakness for potato cakes. This dish was an obvious choice in my mind. So much so that I started eating it before taking the photo! I tried to make up for it but the photo I did take doesn’t do it justice. With that we sipped on a 2007 Venetio Pinot Grigio. I will probably eat there again at some point. But not unless they change their menu. The staff could be a little more enthusiastic as well. Apps range from $8 to $17, sandwiches from $12 to $14 and entrées from $14 to $33. Oh and if you still purchase CDs, they have a great selection of new releases in the genres of roots and dub reggae, jazz, improvised, modern classic, indie rock, alternative country, ambient, electronic and electro-acoustic music, as well as some other styles for sale. If you like what you hear while you're dining, you can pick it up on your way out. They also have a listening station at the end of the bar.

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