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A Restaurant Jewel Devoted to Locality and Seasonality

July 30, 2009

It is so satisfying to find a chef/owner who gets it right.  Chef Tobias Pohl-Weary at the newly opened Red Canoe on John Street in Burlington is a thoughtful, perceptive and experienced cook whose devotion to local and seasonal food is much more than just talk.  He and his sous-chef, Phil Lalonde, actually troll though the local farmer’s market frequently, adjusting the day’s menu based on the vegetables, fruits and meat that they discover.

The Lake Huron pickerel with warm farmer’s market vegetable salad drizzled with Chimmi Churri, for example, epitomizes what the Red Canoe is all about.IMG_0863

This apparently simple dish is actually complex and layered although each flavour is distinct.  The pickerel is dusted with corn meal and quickly grilled.  Each of the vegetables, fresh from the market, is cooked perfectly and independently: carrot, purple and fingerling potatoes,globe zucchini, baby patti pan squash, baby bok choi and garlic scapes. The chimmi churri sauce is made using organic Ontario soybean oil, Niagara empire apple cider vinegar, eleven different herbs, many grown in pots in the restaurant, Canadian mustard seeds,shallots and garlic.  It is a light elegant dish, with balance, colour and fresh flavour.

This is a small restaurant with a welcoming feel, and the food is as fresh and local and seasonal as it gets – something that Burlington has needed for some time.

Check out this place – try the Ontario lamb, the Quebec venison, Berkshire pork tenderloin, or Moulard duck breast.  Everything is made in house, except for about half of the bread, simply because Chef Tobias hasn’t worked out the best kinds or managed the time to present all home made breads. Desserts are lovely – like local straberry and rhubarb shortcake, with house made citrus scone and peppered whipped mascarpone cheese.  There is a cheese board with artisanal cheeses, nuts berries and sliced breads and biscuits.

Prices are reasonable, particularly for the tasting menu which can be matched by wines chosen by the sommelier Kelly Saunter. There are five reds, four whites and one rose available by the glass.

The space is small but attractive, with warm yellow walls, a comfortable bar, and lots of light.

The Red Canoe Bistro

398 John Street



Chef: Tobias Pohl-Weary

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