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The 'New' Treadwell, NOTL - A memorable dining experience that is worthy of a 2 hour drive!! ( Long Review )

Charles Yu | Sep 8, 201301:38 PM

With so many attractive dining options available around town, it would take some really special incentives and excuses to entice me to make a long 2 hours drive to NOTL just for a meal. A visit to the newly relocated 'Treadwell', the rare chance of driving on an un-congested QEW due to rainy weather and the anticipation of a great dining experience were enough to convince me to make such an 'expedition'!

In the past, tasting menus were offered by Treadwell in their St. Catharines location. Unfortunately, this is no longer an option on their new dinner menu. Yearning to savor such an 'Omakase' experience again, I made a special request to the owners/chef and was thrilled to hear that Chef Treadwell was willing and kind enough to accommodate our request!

In order to avoid the weekend and theater crowd, we opted for an extra early 5.00 pm reservation. Entering a 'heated' outdoor patio, we were greeted warmly by a smiling and friendly James Treadwell who led us into the smallish but cozy and modernistic dining room. Our party was seated at the corner of the kitchen counter overlooking the high tech chrome-steel 'Open Kitchen'. A similar design approach as the Michelin 3* 'Chef Table at Brooklyn Fare' and last seen in the now defunct 'Perigee' years ago!

After settling in, we were offered a glass of complimentary off-dry Rose Sparkling wine. A very nice welcoming touch. Next, our 'Trust the Chef' tasting menu, using only local and Canadian ingredients started to arrive in a timely manner:

- Salad of Local Heirloom Tomatoes with 'Monforte' Pecorino Fresco, Crispy Basil, Balsamic Vinagrette, Toasted Focaccia.
- Roasted Red Pepper Soup with Lime Fromage Sorbet and Togarashi Cheese Straw.
- Sashimi of sustainable, Line Caught British Columbia Albacore Tuna, Pickled Mushrooms, Soy Mayonnaise
- House smoked Duck Breast and Heirloom Beets salad with Toasted Hazel Nuts.
- Seared Giant East Coast Diver Sea Scallops with Crispy Hoisin Glazed Pork Belly, Toasted Sesame, Red Pepper Jam.
- Crispy Skin Wild BC 'Keta' Salmon with duo Cauliflower Puree and Tempura Cauliflower, Basil Oil
- Confit of 'Cumbrae Farms' Lamb Shoulder with Eggplant, Summer Zucchini, 'Monforte' Feta Vinaigrette
- Dark Chocolate Brownie, Salted Caramel Ice Cream, Local Raspberries.

We were surprised and privileged to have Chef Treadwell personally handled and cooked most of our dishes. This type of dining experience and attention was like eating at an exclusive sushi restaurant in Tokyo! It was also a delight to interact and chat with both the cheerful chef and his friendly, talented and young team.

Now to the food! First off, we noticed that many ingredient components were used on each dish even simple ones. Sometimes looking too excessive?! However, by some culinary alchemy magic, they were all brought together harmoniously to create a visual, textural and taste sensation! A testimony of the chef's mastery and skill.

A few stand out examples included the following:

The Toronto Life 'award winning' soup. On its own, the red pepper soup component and the ice cold lime sorbet was tasty but nothing to shout about. However, when mixed together, Wow! The two instantly morphed into one sensational 'taste bomb'!! Totally unexpected!
The seafood offering of scallops and Keta Salmon were both cooked perfectly. Execution of the giant scallop, almost the size of a hockey pug was achieved flawlessly. Likewise the fish was cooked to ultra crispiness on the outside but moist and juicy inside. A new find by the chef, this unfamiliar Salmon varietal tasted very mild, closely resembling Sea Bream than Salmon?!
The 10 hour slow roasted Lamb Shoulder Confit in duck fat was amazing. Extra fork tender, the aroma and taste was addictive. And those gelatine tendons and fat!! OMG good!! Pity, we were stuffed to the hilt at that point and has to 'labor' through this gorgeous piece of protein.
Lastly, an honorary mention has to be given to the bread! The piping hot and crispy crusted caramelized onion one with pillowy soft center was one of the best I have eaten in Canada! IMHO, can easily rub shoulder with the highly touted breads of NYC Michelin 1*, the Modern!

As for dessert, we were so full by then, we have to beg for mercy. As such, Chef Treadwell just created a small chocolate sensation to satisfy our sweet tooth.

Overall, the meal was utterly enjoyable and totally memorable! The delectable food, including some real stand-out, obviously deserve the mention. However, the real star of the evening was the superb and ultra friendly professional service and hospitality that started off with a warm greeting and welcome at the door, to the interesting and delightful interaction with Chef Treadwell and his team members to the final farewell handshakes.

Unlike a disappointing outing to Langdon Hall a while back, this memorable 'complete package' dining experience was definitely worth the 2 hour drive from Richmond Hill!!!

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