Peller is good, though not excellent. The service was very good, marred only by the constant lack of ability to serve the correct dish to the correct guest. And the washrooms were clearly not checked regularly by cleaning staff.
We were somewhat disturbed by the presence on each table of a decanter jauntily perched upside down on a dowel. We opted for by-the-glass selections but the decanter remained an eyesore. Peller Cristalle sparkling wine proved to be sweeter than brut; a much better choice was the classic ice wine martini, made with vidal ice wine and Grey Goose, the result reminiscent of lychees.
The food was disappointing in general, though edible. The tasting menu involved selections from the regular menu, minus the skate wing which was sold out (they happily replaced the skate with black cod, and the duck with venison, on request). We started with a yawn-inspiring amuse bouche of cold pheasant wrapped in pancetta served with cold quince compote. Cranberry bread and herbed white bread with unsalted butter topped with olive oil and sea salt were decent.
The sweetbreads appetizer ($15) was buried under an avalanche of perfect baby arugula - the overdone sweetbread fingertip-sized pieces lacking the usual texture. Accompanying mushrooms and cinnamon-dusted almonds were more memorable. Decent buttery seared foie gras (part of tasting) was served with an unusual apple cheese "tart tatin". Medium-rare lamb ($40) came too rare, with a side tower of "tourtiere" along with brussel sprouts, parsnip and carrots. Tender black cod "au civet" ($34) sported an overly salty skin in a red wine sauce chock full of bacon (lardon?) and two smoked oysters, along with ribbons of cabbage, carrots and pearl onions. Overall, a deceptively rich dish. Accompanying private reserve cabernet sauvignon had just enough scent and flavour to keep up. The truffled venison (part of tasting) was tender and generously portioned.
Dessert ($12), like dinner, could have been better - chocolate caramel beggar's purse wrapped ho-hum filo around chocolate cake (no caramel in sight or taste) accompanied by a white chocolate "mousse" topped with delightful candied rose sprinkles and a white chocolate cigarette. Chocolate framboise mousse (part of tasting) turned out to be a dry mousse cake. Espresso was particularly bitter, though improved significantly with heated cream on request.
Dinner for 3 (including one tasting menu) with tax was $250.00, but I'd rather eat at Hillebrand any day. Is there nothing in the Niagara region that is consistently excellent?
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