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Restaurants & Bars

Birch Bistro - especially for the desserts

Dr. John | Nov 4, 201807:30 PM     4

We were visiting my brother in the area and picked this place for dinner. It is in the old Celestin space. The tiling on the floor might be the same. Even with the hard surfaces, it wasn't particularly loud (although it was only half-full).

The menu is French, but more refined and less hearty than typical bistro fare. The wine list also has a lot of French representation.

There is a 3-course menu for $38. We tried the 5-course menu for $55.

They started us with an amuse-bouche of gougere, which were light and infused with gruyere. We then had fresh Leslie Hardy oysters (2 each), with lemon and a peppery mignonette. We sipped a Pierre Sparr ‎Cremant d'Alsace, which was slightly sweet, faintly floral, and went nicely with the oysters.

Next course was two soups. One was a red cabbage gazpacho with red wine, and whole grain mustard ice cream - distilled essence of cabbage, with a bit of vinegar and the ice cream was great. There was also a warm green pea soup that was very pleasant. By this point we had moved on to a 2015 Domaine de la Baume, Elite d'Or Chardonnay, Languedoc - very buttery.

We then shared two salads. Salad betterave: roasted beets, sautéed cherry tomato, goat cheese, candied walnuts, fresh dill - great balance of sweet, sour, creaminess. Salad concombre: compressed cucumber, melon, feta, pickled fennel, passion fruit - also delicious.

For mains, we tried the pork centre loin with rosemary, thyme, balsamic reduction, pomegranate, and fries with dijonnaise - the balsamic reduction worked particularly well with the pork. The frites were also top notch. We also had a special main: chicken casserole with mushrooms and cream sauce and puff pastry over, with a side of potatoes with garlic and parsley. This was essentially a fancy chicken pot pie, but with a much more refined cream sauce. We paired these courses with a 2016 Jean-Claude Boisset, Les Ursulines, Pinot Noir, ‎Burgundy - redolent with cherries.

We had read about the "seasonal fruits" for dessert. These are chocolate shells shaped and coloured to look like a fruit, and then filled with all sorts of treats. We tried the classic lemon, which contained candied lemons - tangy and magical. Almost better was the cherry, which contained a black forest cake inside. Both were perfectly not too sweet. We almost ordered a third dessert (the coconut sounded tempting) but we will have to make a return visit instead.

And they have decaf coffee.

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