FROM THIS ROCK RE­VIEW

5 cour­ses, 2 re­views, 1 highly en­joy­able feast

The Gulf News (Port aux Basques) - - Front page - BY ROS­ALYN ROY AND CHAR­LENE BLACK­MORE Ros­alyn.roy@gulfnews.ca Cblack­more@gulfnews.ca

The From this Rock Culi­nary Tour took place Oct. 26 at the Ho­tel Port aux Basques. This year the Gulf News sent a pair of first-time re­view­ers to par­take and re­port back. Is the $60 price tag worth it? How ta­lented are our lo­cal chefs? How good is the qual­ity of our lo­cal food prod­ucts? Both re­view­ers kept sep­a­rate notes of their im­pres­sions and ex­pe­ri­ences with­out con­sult­ing each other dur­ing the meal.

First Im­pres­sions Char­lene

This is my first time at­tend­ing the From this Rock Culi­nary Tour. The ex­pe­ri­ence starts as soon as you enter the din­ing room. The soft and el­e­gant at­mos­phere im­me­di­ately in­vited me in and made me feel com­fort­able and re­laxed. The smell just in­stantly got my at­ten­tion. A wine show pair­ing would be nice for each course.

Ros­alyn

Hav­ing grown up in Québec and lived in Hal­i­fax for over two decades, I’ve had lots of ex­pe­ri­ence with fine din­ing. I love the dé­cor and soft light­ing. I could live with­out the slideshow, which I found dis­tract­ing, and the ta­ble full of yum­mies out in the lobby would work bet­ter to high­light lo­cal food prod­ucts in­stead. Agree about se­lected wine pair­ings for each course.

Ap­pe­tizer: char­cu­terie sam­pler Char­lene

The pre­sen­ta­tion was sim­ple and classy. The rich­ness of the paté was the per­fect choice with the par­tridge­berry sauce. The colours and flavours com­ple­mented each other per­fectly.

Ros­alyn

Agree on the pre­sen­ta­tion. Much to my sur­prise I thought the paté was the best part and I’m not usu­ally a fan. The green tomato chut­ney com­ple­mented every­thing beau­ti­fully both in flavour and tex­ture. My cheese slices were start­ing to crisp a bit on the edges be­cause they’d been sit­ting just a wee bit too long.

First course: tagli­atelle, pork ragout Char­lene

The pre­sen­ta­tion of the first course of home­made pasta and ragout sauce was ap­peal­ing. The sauce was so rich and savoury, you had to get ev­ery last bit with a piece of fresh bread. The mint leaf to re­fresh and cleanse the palate was a nice touch.

Ros­alyn

The ragout was spicy but not over­pow­er­ing and pro­vided an ex­cel­lent ac­com­pa­ni­ment to the per­fectly cooked pasta. I don’t usu­ally like fresh parme­san but in this case, it put the dish over the top. Warm fo­cac­cia bread to mop up the sauce was re­ally nice. Of all the dishes this one paired best with the wine.

Sec­ond course: spiced cod, gnoc­chi, sage but­ter Char­lene – favourite dish

My first im­pres­sion of the sec­ond course was that the serv­ing size was a bit small, but by the time I fin­ished this course I was com­pletely sat­is­fied. This was my favourite dish. The spiced cod and gnoc­chi were cooked to per­fec­tion, not at all over­done, and just melted in my mouth. The flavours in the spiced cod were so un­ex­pected and de­li­cious. I’d love to see this dish on lo­cal menus.

Ros­alyn – favourite dish

This was eas­ily the best dish of the night. The cod with just a hint of lime was full of flavour and soft, com­ple­men­tary spices and just melted in my mouth. It was the best cod I’ve ever eaten. The gnoc­chi was a per­fect al dente and that tasty but­ter tied every­thing to­gether. My only com­plaint was there wasn’t enough of it and I was left want­ing more.

Main course: chicken roulade, truf­fled cau­li­flower, Brussels sprouts Char­lene

The main course had a beau­ti­ful pre­sen­ta­tion and tasted as in­cred­i­ble as it smelled. All of the dif­fer­ent tex­tures and flavours com­bined re­ally well. Very sat­is­fy­ing!

Ros­alyn

The meat was once again cooked to per­fec­tion and the gravy wasn’t over­pow­er­ing at all but a nice com­ple­ment. It was a nice, solid and fill­ing dish. The best sur­prise was the veg­gies. I de­spise Brussels sprouts but they weren’t sweet or bit­ter here at all – just ut­terly fan­tas­tic. The truf­fled cau­li­flower was a new ex­pe­ri­ence, light and fluffy and I quite en­joyed that too.

Dessert: par­tridge­berry trio Char­lene – least favourite

The dessert pre­sen­ta­tion of par­tridge­berry trio was very strik­ing. Even though this dessert was good, it was the least that I liked in the en­tire five­course meal.

Ros­alyn – least favourite

If I have to pick one I like the least, it would be this one, but that does not mean it was a bad dish – quite the op­po­site. The moist, dense cake topped with par­tridge­berry mousse was soft and a nice change in tex­ture from the heavy dishes be­fore it. The splash of jam added colour but the crisp was al­most en­tirely flavour­less. It did high­light the lo­cal berry beau­ti­fully and in an orig­i­nal way, but the qual­ity of the four dishes that pre­ceded was just too good to rank this one any higher.

Fi­nal thoughts Char­lene

The whole din­ner was a mem­o­rable one, and one I would like to do again. I heartily rec­om­mend the tour to any­one in­ter­ested in a dif­fer­ent and more up­scale din­ing ex­pe­ri­ence.

Ros­alyn

I didn’t re­al­ize we had such ta­lented chefs in the re­gion, but they are true ar­ti­sans when it comes to cui­sine. They can def­i­nitely hold their own or even out­shine some of the high­erend restau­rants I’ve dined at in Mon­treal and Hal­i­fax. And at $60 for such a night of great food and good com­pany, I think the tour is a steal. I ex­pe­ri­enced old foods in new ways, and en­joyed ones I pre­vi­ously dis­liked. I also have to give ma­jor props to the servers who were quick, quiet and ef­fi­cient. What a great ex­pe­ri­ence!

ROS­ALYN ROY/ THE GULF NEWS

Sec­ond course: spiced cod, gnoc­chi, sage but­ter

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