Aubergine

Dinner – Friday, November 27, 2015

So much has changed since we last visited Aubergine – notably, the departure of chef de cuisine Aaron Koseba to Single Thread Farms and large shifts in the front-of-house (including a new restaurant director and sommelier). On Black Friday, we visited with some guests from Canada – their first time here. It was exciting to experience the meal through fresh eyes, although as it turns out, changes in the kitchen were aplenty.

Persimmon and Meyer lemon soda

Kumamoto oyster, caviar, seawater gelee

Shiroita, celtuce
Crispy white kombu – an explosion of umami. A splendid bite.

Foie gras, roasted apple, chestnut

Raw milk
Bell pepper, smoked char roe, hijiki

A new preparation of their always excellent raw milk panna cotta. Previous iterations have been adorned with uni and sea beans – I think this one, layered with a gelee of bell pepper juice and garnished with salty hijiki and roe, tops them all.

Toro, dulse broth
Local seaweed, watermelon radish, smoked trout roe

Oceanic, but delicate. The fatty tuna belly was nicely moderated by the peppery radish and sharp broth – a really well-tuned dish.

Artichoke, bee pollen, crosnes, cress
One of my favourite dishes. The artichoke, coated in a mix of fennel, paprika, black sesame and coriander, was crisp on the outside and creamy inside. The verdant puree of mint, tarragon and parsley (and chamomile?) was an excellent foil to the earthiness of the other vegetables.

Abalone, smoked avocado, bonito butter emulsion

Spiny lobster, white truffles, lobster sauce
Barely-done spiny lobster, lying in a pool of sauce made from its shell and innards, buried under shaved truffles – a crowd-pleaser, to be sure. Faultless cooking.

Lamb and its pickled tongue
Apple, star anise, juniper

28-day dry-aged ribeye
Maitake, roasted cauliflower

Aged Vermont cheddar, apple butter, almond financier

Wood sorrel sorbet
Yes! So simple, but so good – not too sweet, with a delicate herbal tone (and just look at that colour!). A perfect course for this point in the meal.

Feijoa ice cream, coconut mousse
Very interesting – I’ve had scant experience with this fruit, and the pineapple-y tropical notes were alluring. I must seek it out more.

Japanese cheesecake, Buddha Hand puree, dried lemon verbena

Sunchoke, lemon, pear, hazelnut
Earthily sweet sunchoke ice cream, layered with compressed pear and sunchoke chips for texture. A hazelnut mousse bridges the sunchoke and pome, and a lemon praline adds crunch and zing. Brilliant.

Pepper cress macarons, misugaru truffles

Freshly-baked madeleines

Our last dinner at Aubergine was over a year ago – the longest gap between meals since we discovered the restaurant. Ron Mendoza’s desserts are always fantastic, and the only constant about them is how they never cease to delight and wonder. For me, the tidal wave of change came in the savory portion of the menu – everything felt familiar, yet different. Tonight, we experienced a reinvigorated menu served with great wine pairings. I’ve fallen in love with this little restaurant by the sea, all over again.

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