The culinary theatre that chef Marc Lepine has become renowned for — locally and nationally — is centred around molecular gastronomy, an approach that, for Lepine, means avant-garde techniques that result in ingredients being presented in unique ways. The theatre begins with simply finding this restaurant, which is located inside a small residential house (look for the rusty-copper facade beside Morning Owl).
A master of cerebral drama but also of balance, Lepine orchestrates the elements of each dish, not to mention the whole blind 12-course menu, impeccably.
Upon being seated in the tranquil space — lights dimmed — our focus is on the magic that’s unfolding. No menu is given, so when a server sets down a tiny wooden spoon for the first course, you begin the guessing game. Then a small globular glass terrarium, dangling from an elegant stand, is presented. There’s a bite of salmon on a bed of mushrooms, pea-shoot tendrils curling up gracefully and dill fronds almost waving. With that wooden spoon, you retrieve everything through a hole in the globe. The tender fish, cooked sous-vide and flavoured with miso, maple syrup, and lime, is a nice counterpart to the spicy grilled corn. Fungi are deep-flavoured with double-smoked bacon.
Servers are attentive and personable, patient with questions, and passionate about ingredients as surprises are unveiled: purple petals floating on a tarragon pandan-leaf soup, crunchy freeze-dried garlic scapes camouflaged on driftwood. And for the finale, a chocolate vortex into which a strawberry gelatine disappears.