This question is prompted by an outstanding meal at Actinolite last night (which followed an equally outstanding meal a couple of months back).
Given that the menu changes frequently (some items on the menu had been foraged that day) a detailed description is almost superfluous as a reader will probably not get the same meal anyway.
However, the restaurant seems to have matured (philosophically anyway). In the past, the obsession with ‘local, foraged’ has sometimes led to a ‘sameness’ in dishes, as many similar ingredients ripen at the same time. However, the judicious use of pickling and ageing of ingredients (we were served a 4-month aged beef shoulder) plus ongoing relationships with farmers/producers (again an example; Fogo Island Crab was included in one of the amuses) has introduced more variety.
But the strength is still in the local ingredients, picked from their own (and neighbouring) gardens – and sometimes from the streetscape e.g. white mulberries (some items even foraged from cracks in the sidewalk – I’m pretty sure they wash them first!). It’s not that I’m a freak for ‘sustainable’ – but the stuff served here is very tasty too. It treats the city as an urban farm.
At $95 for the 7 course (+ amuses) tasting menu, it’s not cheap – but full value is delivered in the creativity and ingenuity and perfect maturation of the ingredients. That last term (maturation) is misleading in retrospect – last night green strawberries were served to add acidity to a dish – yes, lemon would be cheaper, but this is Ontario, and so far (global warming could change this), that’s not a sustainable alternative.
BUT (and hence the caption) we mused on how we travel to try restaurants that are breaking new ground (!). And for sure when a close relative (who is a chef) visits us next time – Actinolite will be top of the menu.
And a postscript for those who are not fortunate enough to dine in this manner – Actinolite now has a “walk-in; no reservation” option (they call it a ‘Neighbourhood Menu’) that offers 2 dishes (small plates), of your choice, plus a glass of wine for $30.