Date of Visit: Friday August 18, 2006
Walk-in for 1 at 20:30, seated immediately
2112 Yonge Street, Toronto, Ontario
3-course dinner with 2 glasses of wine (tax & tip included): $80
Welsh Rarebit - toasted brioche, cheddar sauce, sauteed escargot, parsley salad: This dish was paired with a South African Chenin Blanc that was very citrusy and refreshing to cut the richness of the cheese. The Welsh rarebit was rich and over-the-top satisfying, like the type of food that I wish my grandmother would make (except that my grandmother's Chinese). It tasted like an amalgamation of fondue and escargot, only much easier to eat. I thoroughly enjoyed this dish even though each bite was laced with cholesteral-guilt.
Grouper En Papillote With Caramelized Parnips and New Potatoes: This dish was paired with a bodacious (heehee, as you can see I'm not good at describing wine) Sauvignon Blanc with an strong note of rose. Grouper is one of my favourite fish and en papillote is such an old-school but fun way of cooking. The dish arrived with a slighly browned parchment packet, a wedge of lemon, and a small dish of sea salt. Chef Deron Engbers personally brought the dish to my table and snipped open the packet with great fanfare. I love how the natural sweetness of the grouper is highlighted in this dish and the diner is free to add as much or as little salt as he pleases. For me, just a few crystals was enough. The accompanying potato and parnips tasted so buttery.
Baked Plum Tart with Vanilla Ice-Cream: Instead of the typical frangipane filling, this version of a plum tart is filled with a beurre noisette-based mixture similar to financier. The acidty of the plums constrasted well with the buttery taste. However, I personally found the tart to be too crispy. The vanilla ice-cream was not memorable.
The front of house staff is totally different since I visited Mirabelle a couple of months ago. Although they are all eager to please and enthusiastic about the menu, their knowledge on wine is a little lacking. My dining experience was not affected, however, having the staff run back to co-owner Dion Alpert for advice so often may not reflect so well on a restaurant that bills itself as a gastro wine bar.
Mirabelle doesn't disappoint with its attention to food and wine matching. Dion's passion for wine is one of the main draw for me to revisit Mirabelle. For a wine-newbie like me, his wine suggestions are informative and unexpected. He certainly got me interested in wines that I normally wouldn't order.
There may be plans in the near future for Mirabelle to collaborate with La Bamboche for an update to the dessert menu. I think this is a great idea to bring higher quality to the dessert selection.
Chef Engbers' interpretation of comfort food is just right with a nice balance of refinement and familiarity. I was happy to see the team at Mirabelle has ironned out most of its opening jitters.