A group of us went to L’Orée du Bois in Chelsea last night. My first impression as I walked in was how cozy it seemed inside. Dim lighting, warm and inviting, but much busier and larger than I expected from the outside.
So many choices of meats on the menu made my selection quite difficult – duck, rabbit, deer and wild boar. I finally decided to go with the table d'hôte of duckling, which I believe was somewhere around the $38 to $40 mark but couldn't find the price on the menu (and forgot to look closely at the bill afterward).
The first choice I had to make was for the soup. I went with the shrimp bisque with cognac and tarragon. It was an extra $2.75 and worth every penny. It's velvety texture was bursting with flavour and the tiny pieces of shrimp throughout were meaty and nice.
Next came my appetizer. This is where I was the most stuck. The mushrooms in a puff pastry with herb sauce were very tempting. I did get to try some and they were rich and flavourful. I was close to getting the duck foie gras mousse but since I was getting duck for my main I decided to go with the smoked salmon mousse with cucumber. Very light and super smokey – this dish was a fantastic choice.
My main, while very good, was my least favourite of the dishes. Brôme lake duckling with white turnip, port and mushroom sauce. All the “cookie-cutter” sides were yummy. 3 swirls of mashed potatoes that looked like they were made with a cake decorating bag and a perfect cylinder of turnip topped with little pieces of chopped asparagus. The duck, drowning in a smooth sauce had bits of soft onion that added a nice overall texture. The duck itself was slightly dry but with the sauce turned out ok.
I ordered the Domaine de la Cavale red wine from France, which in the menu seemed to be the choice to make. A lighter wine than I normally like but still pretty good. And finished off with a glass of port to go with my dessert, the homemade chocolate platter. Small pieces of dark chocolate in various shapes and sizes decorated the plate. In the centre, a dark chocolate cup with a creamy filling and bits of toffee that tasted a lot like a Skor bar – it's what made the plate. My husband wasn't going to get his dessert so I got it for him to share with the others – dark chocolate mousse and caramelized hazelnut. That one was a winner all around and went beautifully with my port.
My brother's nougat, although stunningly prepared, lacked flavour.
The service was good. A bit slow at the end but overall, very efficient. Because there were 8 of us, the tip was included in our bill. We tried to leave a bit more but our server was adamant that we were paying only what was on the bill, which I found to be kind of weird. It wasn't even 15%! After a few back and forths, we gave up and gave him only what he asked for.