Sunday, October 21, 2007

Weekend in Stratford

We were looking forward to good food as well as good theater when we planned to go to Stratford from Detroit this weekend. Following some suggestions from, we ate pretty well. Saturday evening, between plays, we ate at Down the Street, 30 Ontario St.

Overall opinion, good food, and exceptional service. This is a bit funky but very convivial and warm restaurant. The owner knew we were new (who new?) and we were taken care of well, with concern and humor.

Appetizers included bruschetta and pork pot-stickers. The bruschetta was OK - the toasted bread was light on the garlic and overall nothing great, the tomato/basil mixture was fresh and bright, but a little watery. Bruschetta doesn't require cheese, but DTS's version includes a small pot of goat cheese - which my co-diner hates. I sort of enjoyed slathering a bunch on the bread before applying the tomato mixture. The pork potstickers came from the "100 mile menu" - all items on it are organic and sourced within 100 miles. Anyway the potstickers were very nice - crispy fried packages of a tasty mildly-spicy sausage-like mixture of local pork But, there were three for $9..way over priced.

My beef ribeye was perfectly cooked and nicely charred on the outside and very flavorful. The accompanying caramelized shallot and mushroom was sweet and lovely, but for some reason was served cold atop the steak. We were told it was supposed to that way. The potato gratin with goat cheese was kind of OK, nothing bad, but not very exciting and not particularly flavorful.

My companion had the crispy duck, also from the 100 mile menu. Skin not so crispy, but lovely flavored and huge hunks of duck. The kimchi slaw was crispy and flavorful with a slow heat. And the pho jus was very pho... which is good. The millet cake was....our first millet cake. I guess it was sort of interesting as an experience - lots of folks around the world eat millet regularly.

We also tried our first Niagara wine - Henry of Pelham Baco Noir. A sturdy, quiet strong wine that supported the steak nicely.

It's not cheap, in fact a bit pricey, but it's a wonderful experience in hospitality and and good food. We'd go back on another trip, and understand it's even better after the plays.

Breakfast the next morning was at Tango, also on Ontario near Downie. We liked it. As at Down the Street, the staff was friendly and helpful as can be. Tango also is proud of their pork - the bacon was thin and little crispy on the edges, the sausage links particularly were really porky - though we aren't sure what that means. They were meaty, not spicy and not particularly fatty. The home fries were crispy chunks, a little spicy and soft and warm inside. Excellent.

One other note - we arrived at the Arden Park Hotel later than we expected, less than an hour before the King Lear curtain. Could they manage a quick lunch for us? They did - a nice club sandwich with real turkey breast chunks was on the table in 5 minutes. I wouldn't have expected a lot from a small hotel dining room. It wasn't the most imaginative menu, but the food was well-prepared from good ingredients, served by cheerful, more than competent staff.

All in all, a nice experience in Stratford. Oh, and Brian Bedford as Lear was truly something special.

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