Wednesday, 26 October 2016
BISTRO '67 - DURHAM COLLEGE CENTRE FOR FOOD, Whitby, ON - 905.721.3312
I know what you’re thinking – “Lasha, are you ever going to write a bad review?” The answer to that, my beautiful friends is, “Probably not.”. And you aint getting one tonight, Sweethearts. I am completely in love with the concept behind, the presentation of, and especially the taste of the incredible dinner my dining companions and I had on Thursday night.
Did you know that Durham College has it’s OWN TEACHING RESTAURANT?? In fact, they have an entire building dedicated to the study of agriculture and food!!! A WHOLE BUILDING!!! Their vision statement is, “From field to fork”. And that’s what they do. Literally. Behind the building that houses the restaurant is a large area of land dedicated to growing fresh ingredients that they use in the kitchen! HOW AWESOME IS THAT??? AND the students even make take-away lunches that you can buy from their kitchen!
I didn’t really know a lot about DC’s food program before I saw the ad for the 100 mile dinner, but it looked intriguing. The concept of this particular special event dinner is that diners would feast on an Autumn-themed set menu that is prepared only with ingredients found within 100 miles of Bistro '67. Rounding out the dinner would be wine pairings from a local winery. Sounds fun, right??
Bistro '67 is located on the second floor of Durham College’s Centre For Food (CFF). The building sits right near the entrance to the 401 on Thickson and Champlain. Directly across from the old location of the Cineplex Odeon, where one of high school besties, Jenn Kahn, worked in the early ‘90s. It’s also the movie theatre where we snuck in to see Basic Instinct in grade 10. Not the best movie to see on a date when you’re fifteen years old. How embarrassing. I was mortified when Sharon Stone did the whole leg-crossing thing. Also in that plaza was a Don Cherry’s where I worked exactly four shifts as a server one summer when I was at University. I was probably the worst server in the entire universe. I remember dumping about three quarters of a beer on two members of a baseball team that were there for wings after their game. It’s a good thing I was a little bit cute back then. Jesus. I was promptly demoted to hostess, and then I quit to go to work at PPG on the line. I’m sure the owner of Don Cherry’s was really sad to see me go…..oh, wait….
Anyway, the CFF is a modern looking building that you can get to if you turn east onto Champlain off of Thickson. I was meeting my two oldest friends for dinner and it was pouring rain, so I didn’t get to really check out the building as we ran into the lobby from the parking lot. It’s possible that we didn’t come in the proper doors because there wasn’t any signage that we could see to tell us where to go to get to the restaurant. It was a little confusing. We saw some people who looked like excited diners enter the same doors we did and proceed up a set of stairs, so we followed them. Smart move on our part because we entered a set of doors at the top of the stairs and there it was.
Bistro '67 is a beautiful, modernly decorated dining room. It was bigger than I had imagined and much busier. We gave our name to the host and he took us to a table situated in the middle of the restaurant. From where I was sitting, I could see the vast vegetable gardens which were visible from the window that ran along the entire south side of the dining room. Long, straight lines of different shades of green leaves were indicative of several different types of ground veggies. I was secretly hoping that our dinner was going to include beets. I could eat beets all day long. I think it’s the Ukrainian blood that runs through my veins, but I think beets are underrated. The only problem with beets is that they’re messy. Messy to cook with, messy to clean off your hands after peeling them, and messy if you forget that you’ve eaten beets and then think that you have colon cancer later on in the evening if you’re a hypochondriac like me. Oy.
Anyway, I was absolutely thrilled to be at Bistro 67 not just because I was going to eat a creatively incredible meal, but because I was dining with my two friends that I’ve known since birth. Janet, Tanya and I have been friends so long, it feels as through we’re family. We’ve been through tremendous hardships together and celebrated truly joyous events together. Our mothers were friends from the old Ukrainian Hall called Uno that used to sit where LVIV stands today. They brought us to the hall in our baby strollers and when we were old enough to walk, we started Ukrainian dancing together. Even though we went to different public schools and high schools in the Oshawa area, we always found time to hang out. I absolutely love these two ladies with all my heart and soul.
As we ordered our drinks ( I ordered a Green Apple Sangria and Janet ordered the Vanilla peartini from the feature drinks menu. Tanya was holding out for the wine pairing.), we were able to look at the set menu for the evening’s meal.
Both Tanya and I ordered the Prime Rib, while Janet ordered the pork. Everything on the menu looked fabulous, so it was a tough choice. I have to pause here and mention the service at this joint. It was awesome. Our server, who told us that she was a Durham College student and that most of the people employed by the restaurant were students also, was extremely friendly and knowledgable when it came to the menu. I love the fact that they hire students. Up until my brother got sick in 2014, I worked and taught at Sheridan College in Oakville and I miss being around the energy of Millennials.
Our drinks came quickly and they were to die for. I will definitely be making the Green Apple Sangria at home. I’m partial to a carbonated beverage and it embodied everything I love about the Fall. More specifically, apples. Even more specifically, Honey Crisp Apples. Have you tried them?? They’re like my kryptonite. Unfortunately, I got too excited about the Honey Crisp harvest this year and ate a whole $45 dollar bag of pick-your-own apples from Pingles on the first day of the season. It wasn’t pretty. Honey Crisp Apples and I are currently on a break.
As we were shooting the shit and sipping our booze, a young lady came to our table and introduced herself as one of the owners of The Grange Of Prince Edward County Winery, the featured wine of the evening. She told us the story of how her mother, Caroline Granger, started the winery on the farm of her ancestors and made it thrive. It was nice that she took the time to talk to us. I made a mental note to visit the vineyard at some point in the near future. I’m sure it wont be hard to convince Janet and Tanya to come with me….
Just as the young lady left our table, the server came back with fresh rolls. She mentioned that the humous that was served with the rolls was made from purple carrots from the garden. The hummous was a extremely dark in colour and looks as though it could go either way with regard to taste. Janet actually turned on her phone flashlight and held it up to see the colour more clearly. While it wasn’t the most aesthetically pleasing colour, the hummous tasted devine. It was smooth and complimented the bread perfectly. It was an interesting and brilliant choice by the chef. We loved it. We finished off the hummous pretty quickly, in fact.
Next up was the Pumpkin Fritter with a sweet potato crisp and (YAY!) beet ketchup. The fritter was a bite-size and golden brown. Immediately after biting into it, Janet and Tanya remarked how much it tasted like their grandmother’s homemade doughnuts. It was sweet and beautifully spiced. But the star of the show was definitely the beet ketchup. We joked that they should bottle that shit and make a fortune. We could sell it with the chicken during Fiesta at Lviv!
Our salads were lovely. We weren’t sure, but we thought that perhaps the greens in this salad were also from the beet. While I love the beet, I am by no means an expert on greens or salads in any way. I’m sure that if I loved salads as much as I love cheese, I’d be AT LEAST thirty pounds lighter. And I’d be able to get into that beautiful leather dress I bought that was two sizes too small as inspiration to lose weight. It’s been sitting in my closet for five years now. Whatever. I quickly gobbled up the small amount of goat cheese that was on top of the salad and tried the other pickled vegetables that were on the plate. As far as salad’s go, it was pretty tasty. For a salad.
We were definitely in for a treat with our next course. The mushroom soup made from both wild and farmed mushrooms was to die for. There were at least four different types of mushrooms in this soup and it contained the perfect amount of spice and garlic. The texture managed to be both smooth and just chunky enough to be filling.
Our main courses were up next. I’m a huge fan of Prime Rib and this one didn’t disappoint. It was served on top of buttered mashed potatos and grilled zucchini, topped off by some wild mushrooms and a gorgeously coloured au jus. It looked beautiful, and just bloody enough for my taste. It tasted incredible, too. The only thing I would have liked to see served with it is a homemade horseradish, which I’m sure the chef would have nailed.
Janet’s pork dish looked fabulous as well. It was pork, wrapped with pork! It doesn’t get much better than that. After a taste of Janet’s dinner, I was torn as to which entrée tasted better. Each had it’s own unique taste and heartiness. I loved it.
The dessert was a shortbread pie made from orchard apples and blueberries. I was absolutely stuffed at this point, but I managed to eat the entire serving. The shortbread was fresh and crispy and absolutely complimented the tart berries and sweet apples. So very well made. SUCH AN INCREDIBLE DINNER!!!
The entire evening was wonderful! From start to finish, the whole 100 mile concept was a success. I love the way everything was tied together. I LOVE the way Bistro 67 managed to combine the local farming community, the Durham College community, the local wine-growing community and the local food-loving community all together in a giant, Autumn-coloured bow.
At the end of our meal, the chef came out to introduce himself and to see how we enjoyed the meal. We gave him our praises for all the food, but especially for the Beet Ketchup.
He said he’s thinking about bottling it.
Bistro '67 is open for lunch Tuesday to Friday, and Dinner Tuesday to Saturday.