AL’s Place

Dinner – Saturday, October 3, 2015

I looked it up – the last time we saw Aaron London was 4 years ago at Ubuntu! That’s a long time to wait for another meal, by any measure. Certainly, it makes the 3.5 hours we waited for a table seem insignificant (no, not quite). I’ll admit to a fair degree of anticipation, tempered by my allergy to hype. With our mood lightened by a few snacks (and more than a few drinks) down the road at Beretta, here is what we ate.

French fries, smoked apple sauce

Corn husk chawanmushi, cherry tomato, pistachio
Very interesting. The texture was not at all like a traditional chawanmushi – it seemed more gelatinous than creamy (not bad, just different). The pistachio was very assertive, perhaps a little too much so, given the sweetness of the other components. I think I need to eat this dish again before I make up my mind on it.

Lightly cured trout, crispy potato, smashed turnip, bagna cauda
Our first experience with protein from Aaron London’s hands, and our dish of the night. Really fantastic fish, cut to the perfect thickness so as to emphasize the flavours of its oils. Fried skin and crispy potatoes for texture, (pickled?) turnips and a salty bagna cauda for contrast. Excellent.

Winter squash, grilled apple and kale, currant sofrito, burrata, quince vinegar

Pear curry, black lime-cod, persimmon, blistered squash
Another stunner. The cod, cured in black lime, was just lightly cooked. The curry and squash and persimmon, all with varying sugar contents, were nicely spiced. Given the cold weather outside, I found myself especially appreciating this course.

Pork belly cured in galangal soda, quick-fermented kimchi, roe

King salmon, tom yum nam khon sauce
In keeping with his background, the larger protein courses are called “Sides” on the menu, and sides they are – served simply to complement the vegetable dishes. Both the pork belly and the salmon were well-executed (the kimchi was noteworthy) and certainly filling, but neither occupy the same circle as e.g. the pear curry.

The dishes we ate tonight trended sweet – I’m not sure if it’s because of what we chose specifically, or if the kitchen like sugar, of it’s just a reflection of the vegetables in season. It is not our ideal flavour profile, but there’s definitely enough promise to warrant a return – how long before the crowds die down to something manageable?

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