416-792 6002 | $16-26 mains
To say there’s a lot of buzz for Acadia would be a gross understatement. Chef Matt Blondin and the staff have received a ton of critical acclaim over the course of its first year and the concept is unique enough to distinguish it from the increasingly crowded new TO resto scene. Thankfully, they put their hand up for Dish Duel, and I had the chance to drop in.
Food (all the food pics are from Jess, although I did edit a bunch)
The menu at Acadia is quite succinct: five starters, five mains, four sides. The mixed drink menu on the back is actually more extensive (this is a good thing). Each dish is framed by the restaurant as “Acadian and Lowcountry cuisine utilizing hand selected, sustainable agriculture.” We noticed there’s quite an emphasis on seafood with 7/10 dishes (not including sides) including fish/shellfish, so naturally we went in that direction.
Our first dish showcased perfectly seared scallops with chicken crackling, parmensan crisp, pickled watermelon rind, and basil (leaves and gelee). This was probably our favourite of the night. Flavour-wise, crackling is almost like cheating, but the presentation was also really cool. Almost like scallops swimming up a river (not that scallops swim…but you get the point).
Next up we went with blue cornmeal crusted cod cheeks accompanied by some small pieces of pickled prawn, sugarcane chow chow, mirilitons (also known as chayote), and whipped buttermilk. Cheeks and prawns were good, the rest of the dish was mainly for diversity of texture and temperature, not necessarily flavour.
Then came the Dish Duel nominated grits and prawn sausage, hedgehog mushrooms, pimento cheese and a smoked ham consomme. Won’t say much here except for I’d order it repeatedly. See the description on Feb 18 on the Dish Duel site once the competition kicks off.
For our main, we shared the steelhead, which comes rolled (looks like a maki roll) and topped with caramelized fennel, pickled persimmon, almond mayonnaise and andouille jerky. The highlights here: delicious fish, almond mayonnaise and fennel. The crisp goodies on top were good for texture, but wish one of the jerky or persimmon would been more assertive flavours.
For dessert, we finished with a really fun dish that I’d label as deconstructed carrot cake. Essentially, it was crispy pecan streusel in a bowl, topped with maple sugar, coconut cured, and ice-cold carrot and buttermilk snow. This snow must have been some kind of liquid nitrogen creation, because it was JUST LIKE SNOW. Clearly enjoyed it.
An aside: great selection of mixed drinks and beers. Had the Beet Generation: gin, beet juice, black pepper, and champagne. Was really tasty. Also, they have Blanche de Chambly on the beer menu if that’s your cup of tea (it’s mine).
Service and Ambience
So we came the same night as Super Bowl Sunday, and there were still some folks having dinner (testament to how much people like it). I’m sure it’s awesome busy. The room has a bunch of down-south, homey touches (cutlery/china housed in a big wooden dresser on the right below), and big windows that make it an ideal spot in the summer I expect. Also, the entire kitchen is completely open: no doors, no walls. It literally is in the room with you.
Our server was attentive and friendly all the way through, and food came out beautifully every time. I thought it was everything you could want in a solid service: knowledgeable about the food et drink and talkative when we felt like chatting. Kudos.
Go! The food is elevated, interesting, and simultaneously accessible. Most the things we ate were really enjoyable, and we had a satisfying experience despite the restaurant being more or less empty. Enjoy.
Posted by: Jacob, Visited Feb 5, 2012