I had one of those I MUST TELL THE INTERNET ABOUT THIS meals yesterday at About Thyme bistro in Vineland. My girlfriend ranked it as the best meal she's had since she first discovered Libretto, and I rate it the best since I had my panties knocked off at Batifole two years ago.
The approach to the place is not promising: it's a two-unit "strip mall" type building on the outskirts of Vineland, and the signage out front is done in 100% authentic Comic Sans. Two things which say RUN LIKE HELL. But we got a recommendation from the impressively macho italian guy behind the counter at Ridgepoint Winery, and my girlfriend's sixth restaurant sense went off when we passed.. and one minute after they were supposed to open, we were seated.
The menu is prix fixe, and I'm going to leave the prix part to the end. The structure of the menu is appetizer, main, dessert. They aim for flavours on the bombastic end of the spectrum, clearly aiming for french bistro style - fat is in, flavour is in. Their sauces and reductions are DAYYYUM quality, and they seemed to have good ingredient quality.
The food was AMAZING. It's hard to say why exactly. Everything was perfect from idea to execution.
I had a paté over salad with a very intelligent vinagrette reduction dressing, the girlfriend had lightly curried cauliflower soup with pear and a crème finish.
Mains for her was seared duck breast - I always find duck a hair on the gamey side, and this was no exception, but she declared it the best duck she's ever run into, and she's French. Roast fingerling potatoes, some nicely treated vegetables. The sauce finish on that was some sort of fig thing. I had a lake trout (origin unknown) over a wine reduction, again more nicely treated veg (broccoli, beans, asparagus).
The finishing touch - carrot cake with brilliant icing for me, delirium-inducing crème brulée for her topped it off.
The wine list is 100% niagara, for the most part drawn from the lesser-known smaller wineries around Beamsville and Vineland. You can bring your own (corkage unknown) or order from a reasonable selection of great wines @ $7 a glass. There's some obviously excellent stuff in the cellar, too. The baco noir pairs amazingly with duck. Like, really amazingly.
Service is exactly what you'd expect and had an unconventional, though great, wine pairing for my trout.
So as I enjoyed that meal, my mind rewound to the beginning of the meal. What was the prix fixe? Oh yeah.... 27 DOLLARS.
This is an outrageously good deal. Some items bump the price up (fancy-pants beef with mushroom aioli poutine etc +$8) but.. seriously? 27 bucks for a 3-course genius meal?
Definitely going back.