Hunter-style roast chicken suprême with white wine, tomato & creamy polenta
Between plunging temperatures, extreme wind chills, snow squalls and ice storms, I think we're all in need of a pick-me-up, don't you say? During these cold winter months, the best way to chase away the chill is by warming up on the inside. It's time to satisfy those cravings in order to help make the season just a little more bearable.
If you're hankering for a way to take your mind off the ruthless Canadian winter, we've got you covered. From January 31st to February 27th, O&B Oakville
is celebrating WinterFixe
and offering a three-course prix fixe ($18 at lunch
; $28 at dinner
), featuring an array of savoury options.
Chef de Cuisine Matthew Foote
certainly doesn't let the dark days of winter leave him uninspired in the kitchen. While many of his WinterFixe dishes are recognizable, they all have been tweaked slightly to be given a creative edge. Caramelized onion and Gruyère soup, a seasonal favourite, has been puréed, while yellow pea and smoked pork soup has been spiced up with paprika. An heirloom beet and bocconcini salad provides a tasty twist on a classic caprese, complete with a crisp watercress and olive oil pesto rather than a traditional basil pesto.
"These are familiar items that are slightly different from what you're expecting, but still in your wheelhouse," says Chef Matthew.
Chef Matthew's main course options range from soul-satisfying (crispy haddock, potato and leek cake) to downright stick-to-your-ribs, hearth-centric comfort food (curried pork tenderloin, anyone?). But Chef Matthew's version of comfort food is more than just a hot meal. It's down-home cooking designed to combat the cold and jazzed up to beat the winter blues. It's sophisticated, dressed-up comfort food with a kick.
Take his hunter-style chicken, for example. This dish, a riff on chicken cacciatore
(Italian for "hunter"), is a stalwart of traditional Italian cooking. Chef Matthew marinates his chicken legs for two days with thyme, garlic and olive oil before roasting in a convection oven. The meat is then slowly braised in a tomato white wine sauce with shallots, fennel, bell peppers and more garlic. The end result is deliciously succulent fall-off-the-bone meat, served on a creamy bed of polenta. The dinner version of this is enhanced by a sauce suprême, which is derived from bone, dark meat and fat, adding an extra layer of richness and density to the dish.
"It's fantastic for -30° weather," says Chef Matthew. It's hard to argue with him.
The chive-crusted salmon provides an outstanding combination of flavours and textures. Chives and Japanese panko breadcrumbs are blitzed together in a food processor to create a vibrant green mixture in which to roll the salmon fillet. Underneath the salmon, you have a winterized version of potato salad: warm new potatoes with beets and horseradish cream.
"You're getting lots of texture and crunch from the salmon crust, which is a nice mix with the creamy salad," says Chef Matthew. "You're hitting all those sweet spots."
The always-popular grilled calamari stands out from the crowd on the WinterFixe dinner menu. Gluten-free, dairy-free and high in protein, this dish is complemented by a refreshing salsa verde and a warm fennel, endive and sweet onion salad.
"Not everyone is in the mood to hunker down," says Chef Matthew. "Some of us are still trying to keep our resolutions!"
To ensure your three-course meal isn't entirely a resolution-killer, Chef Matthew has included some lighter dessert options (those exist, right?) like baked fruit and Greek yoghurt parfait as well as a simple mango sorbet. After all, it's nice to end a meal with something sweet that you can also feel good about. Alternatively, you can go wild with an ooey gooey carrot cake with citrus caramel and Chantilly cream or a Grand Marnier cheesecake with ginger crumb crust.
So whether you need a pick-me-up or simply want to indulge, treat yourself to our WinterFixe menu and hibernate in style. We're still a little ways away from the final thaw.
or call 289.291.0265
Still hungry for more? 'Like' O&B Oakville on Facebook for your chance to win a customized dinner for two - all you have to do is pick your top WinterFixe choice. You can also follow us on Twitter for all the latest updates!
All photos by Cindy La
Winterlicious is almost upon us (January 31st to February 13th)!
are new entrants to the program, and we are hosting two sold-out Winterlicious Culinary Events (Breaking Bread with the Walshes
and Master Gnocchi
There are also exciting prizes up for grabs. Each time you dine at one of our participating Winterlicious restaurants, make sure to fill out your contest ballot! We'll be awarding prizes throughout Winterlicious and you could win the Grand Prize - an Ultimate Dinner for 10
with Chef Anthony Walsh and the O&B Winterlicious chef of your choice.
Follow us @Oliver_Bonacini
, where we will be giving away dinners for two - at a few of our most highly sought out restaurants. Stay tuned.
Keep reading for a sneak peek of some of our menu highlights.
Auberge du Pommier
Enjoy the exquisitive French offerings at Auberge du Pommier. $25 lunch
or $45 dinner
. 416.222.2220 or reserve online
Duck Confit with toasted barley, dried cherries, root vegetables, spiced duck jus
Bannock is participating in Licious for the first time this year with Canadian comfort food. $15 lunch
or $25 dinner
. 416.861.6996 or reserve online.
Margherita Bannock Pizza on Rocket, Pickled Eggplant, Salsa Verde
White Fish Cake with Dill Pickle Tartar Sauce, Yuzu, Celeriac
Biff's is bringing modern flair to classic French bistro dishes. $20 lunch
or $35 dinner
. 416.860.0086 or reserve online
Chicken Cordon Bleu with braised white cabbage, roasted carrots & pear sauce vierge
Bouillabaisse with roasted red pepper & saffron sauce with fennel, leeks, celery, tomato & fresh baguette with rouille
The best of Canadian cuisine can be enjoyed 54 floors up in the air. $25 lunch
or $45 dinner
. Phone reservations only: 416.364.0054.
Ontario Strip Loin with Northern Woods Mushrooms, Layered Potato & Birch Onion Marmalade
Niagara Walnut Tart with Apple Caramel, Roasted Apple & Crème Fraîche
Canteen is also participating in Licious for the first time this year. $15 lunch
or $25 dinner
. Reservations are not required; walk-ins are always welcome.
Marinated Pork Brochette with Spanish rice, roasted corn, black bean & mango salad
Orecchiette with kale pesto, roasted broccoli, pistachio, Parmesan, cream
Jump is offering a hearty menu with Mediterranean influences at the forefront. $20 lunch
or $35 dinner
. 416.363.3400 or reserve online.
Sicilian-Style Ontario Lamb Meatball with pine nuts, tagliolini, tomato sauce
Goat Cheese Stuffed Atlantic Salmon with Sainte-Maure de Touraine, Provençal ratatouille, Espelette aïoli
You can enjoy Luma's elegant and seasonally inspired Winterlicious menu. $20 lunch
or $35 dinner
. 647.288.4715 or reserve online
Roasted Trout with glazed roots, puffed wild rice and brown butter bay scallops
Honey-Charred Chicken with saffron, wilted kale, green olives, citrus and piquillo pepper dressing
O&B Bayview Village
You can find the finest ingredients, such as Wellington County beef, in these refined dishes. $15 lunch
or $25 dinner
. 416.590.1300 or reserve online
Rigatoni Genovese with broccolini, spinach, basil & pea pesto
Simmered Boneless Beef Short Ribs & Kimchi Fried Rice - Wellington County beef short ribs, pasilla peppers, cumin, sesame & pickled Napa cabbage
With Christmas morning less than a week away, the pressure is officially on to tick off those last few gifts off your shopping list. Procrastinators can rest assured knowing there's need to panic. We've got you covered with the most festive of sweets at O&B Artisan
Chef Paul Brans and his team have been toiling away like elves in Santa's workshop. Working out of O&B Artisan's bakery and confections studio, located on the lower level of Hudson's Bay Queen Street
, our bakers, pastry chefs and chocolatiers have been busy hand-producing a diverse array of holiday goodies. Since it's a small-batch operation, new product is put out on the floor every single day.
Giant gingerbread men being dipped in chocolate before being laid out to dry
The next step is packaging them inside stunning lantern fixtures. Chef Paul got the inspiration for this when he was hunting for a new way of presenting his small-batch goods earlier this year.
"I went to this basket place and they had every type of bloody basket you could imagine," he recalls. "But then they also had this room filled with lanterns ... so I bought two, brought them back, did a sample and I loved them. They're just a little bit more special. You notice them."
The lanterns are filled with a variety of confections, from candy cane bark to gingerbead men to caramel corn. Or feel free to customize your own unique lantern. Plus, O&B Artisan also carries marshmallows, cookie and macarons from Bobbette & Belle
, and chocolate from Soma
"They've been great supporters of ours since the beginning," says Chef Paul. "I think it's nice to see a little variance and that we support these small places."
And since most of the lanterns are being given to a client or an office where people are going to share in the goods, it's ideal to have a little bit of everything. But some of Chef Paul's other creations are great to gift on their own, or to spruce up your own holiday party spread.
Let's talk fruitcake for a second. This classic dessert gets a bit of a bum rap, thanks to all the dry, artificially coloured versions that just end up functioning as someone's doorstop.
"This is a good old, traditional, English Christmas cake," says Chef Paul. "It's very moist and very delicious."
Rooted in a time-honoured recipe and labour-intensive technique, this rich, boozy fruitcake is saturated with Bacardi, Wolfberger and Napoleon liqueurs, and studded with golden and sultana raisins.
Genelle Bachand, who leads O&B Artisan's talented baking team, marinates the fruit (currants, cranberries, figs and candied orange, lemon, lime and cherries) in the summertime and then bakes off the cake at the end of September or beginning of October. She wraps the cake in cheesecloth, puts it in a bag, and mists it once week with brandy and rum, as it slowly cures and ages towards perfection.
Walnut and cranberry tarts
O&B Artisan's other old school treats will add extra nostalgia to any holiday shindig. Plum puddings, jars of mincemeat to make your own little pie and walnut cranberry tarts are just a few vintage favourites. The stollen cake, which is a traditional German yeast bread filled with dried fruit and a ribbon of marzipan, is also back this year.
"We did a lot of sampling last year on it, and a lot of people would try it, buy it, and now they're back with a vengeance having waited for it all year," says Chef Paul. "It's really nice that they've embraced it and are looking forward to coming back."
The best part about O&B Artisan's stollen is that it's dipped in real clarified butter and icing sugar, not just once, but four times.
"It's not greasy, but it gives you this lovely coating on the outside." says Chef Paul.
But the real icing on the cake this year is Chef Paul's lovable chocolate moose. They're even selling versions with Santa Claus hats.
Erika sets the moose mold before placing it in the fridge to cool
"It's unique and memorable. And you can eat it!" he says. "It's the perfect gift, right?"
And if chocolate and sugar ain't your thing, there are always O&B gift cards
, redeemable at all 11 restaurants. (Hey, it wouldn't be Christmas without a shameless plug or two.)
For more up-to-the-minute news, "Like" O&B Artisan on Facebook!
Shortly after Amanda Ray
was appointed as Chef de Cuisine at Biff's Bistro
in April 2012, she stopped at Rose's Vietnamese Sandwiches
in Chinatown East for a bá
. That's when she started to think about introducing a Vietnamese twist to the Biff's menu.
"The light went off!" Chef Amanda recalls. "I thought we could do a sexy bá
at Biff's too, and so we did."
Biff's Bánh Mì (Photo by Cindy La)
The result? Biff's Bánh Mì
with shaved pork shoulder, duck confit, parfait, veal tongue and pickled carrots. It was a huge hit with guests, and Chef Amanda even went on to feature the sandwich
as part of the Terroir Symposium 2013
This past August, Chef Amanda finally had to opportunity to visit beautiful Vietnam for three weeks, where she fell even deeper in love with Vietnamese cuisine. Between her daily bánh mì,
Chef Amanda developed a deep passion for Vietnamese coffee.
"It was one of my favourite things," she says. "You can have it cold. You can have it hot. You get addicted. I had it every day, sometimes twice a day. It was definitely a staple in my day-to-day regime."
One of the many Vietnamese coffees Chef Amanda enjoyed on her trip (Photo by Amanda Ray)
So when Chef Amanda designed the menu for Biff's Taste of Vietnam dinner this past November, it was no surprise that she included Trung Nguyên
Vietnamese coffee to be served at the end of the evening.
"It's special because when they roast the coffee beans, they roast it with chicory and sugar, which gives the coffee a very aromatic and sweet smell," she says. "It's awesome. It's really strong and thick coffee."
So why not introduce a Vietnamese coffee element to the menu?
Chef Amanda was in the process of replacing the Peach Bavarois
with something else and thought she would try to swap the fruit for coffee beans to create Vietnamese Coffee Bavarois
. Bavarois ('Bavarian cream', in French) is a classic cold dessert with a cream anglaise base made from either milk or cream and flavourings - in this case, coffee!
Chef Amanda's recipe brings milk and coffee to a scald in a saucepan before whisking in eggs and sugar and straining out the coffee beans. She then places the saucepan back on the stove to thicken, later folding whipped cream into the mixture to lighten up the custard. On top, she adds tuile with cocoa nibs. The final product is a rich yet delicate dessert - a perfect way to finish a meal.
Vietnamese Coffee Bavarois (Photo by Rebecca Spence)
The Vietnamese Coffee Bavarois isn't the only evidence of Vietnamese influence on the new Biff's menus. The new Frogs' Legs
with peanuts, tamarind and ginger is a twist on a delicious crab dish Chef Amanda had in central Vietnam with a tamarind and ginger sauce. She is also working on a few new Viet-French dishes that might find their way onto future Biff's menus.
"I love bún chả
[grilled pork and vermicelli noodles] and chả cá lã vọng
[fried fish with dill and turmeric, a Hanoi speciality]," says Chef Amanda. "I think they would be perfect dishes to serve at lunch."
We'll be sure to keep you in the loop on any new additions to the Biff's Bistro menu in 2014. For up-to-the-minute news, 'Like' Biff's Bistro on Facebook
While weekends are often best spent sleeping in, sometimes it's worth waking up early to take part in one of Toronto foodies' favourite pastimes: brunch. Among our restaurants that dare to participate in this city-wide ritual are Bannock, O&B Canteen and both O&B Café Grill, Bayview Village and Yonge & Front. From Bannock's hearty Brunch Poutine with curds, corned beef brisket and duck egg, to O&B Bayview Village's Fried Chicken French Toast with O&B Artisan brioche and mandarin maple syrup, we offer plenty of ways to shake off your morning (or early afternoon) grogginess.
"It's a lighter way to start your day," says Chef Zuzana. "It's not necessarily a hangover breakfast."
O&B Yonge & Front's Chef de Cuisine, Zuzana Harsaghy, knows a thing or two about satisfying the fevered downtown brunch crowd. Expect to find a tailored selection of both classic brunch staples and inventive dishes on this menu.
Chef Zuzana's Beef Short Rib Hash is a great example of a dish that unites fresh, quality ingredients with simple, straightforward cuisine. A bed of crunchy, crispy potatoes is full of with sweet corn, roasted peppers and tender bits of braised short rib, making it the ultimate hangover cure.
"It's loaded with carbs and lots of hearty stuff: caramelized onions, a little braising liquid, poached eggs and some chipotle ketchup." says Chef Zuzana.
The Eggs & Lox, on the other hand, is "more for the carb-conscious" guests, says Chef Zuzana. The beautifully plated dish combines Heritage Atlantic salmon gravlax from Eastern Canada, cured in house, with mixed pickles and poached eggs. Rested on top is crostini with a perfectly yellow lemon aïoli made from lemons preserved over six months ago.
If you're looking for a little kick in the pants, the Huevos Rancheros might be just the ticket. Between two grilled flour tortillas is a generous portion of maple beans and fluffy scrambled eggs, smothered in super-ripe avocado, sour cream, pico de gallo and pasilla pepper to provide the often-needed hangover-subduing power of spice.
This Mexican breakfast classic provides a fantastic combination of rich, creamy and fiery flavours. If you are a fan of runny egg yolk, ask for your eggs over-easy or soft-poached so you can mop up the eggy gooeyness with any leftover tortilla.
Beyond these à la carte highlights, Chef Zuzana and her team also love to draw new inspiration by coming up with inventive takes on old favourites. Last Saturday's thoughtful combination was Pork & Beans, which featured maple-glazed crispy pork belly with bourbon-baked beans and poached eggs.
"I had some leftover pork belly this week and I figured, 'Hey, why not?'" says Chef Zuzana. "I love getting super creative with brunch and playing around with spins on classic brunch dishes and doing all kinds of funky things."
And because one brunch special isn't enough, Chef Zuzana also offered a sweet alternative to the savoury pork and beans.
"I like to start with savoury and finish with sweet," she says.
Chef Zuzana's Strawberry-Filled Steamed Buns proved to be a delicious tribute to her Slovakian roots.
"It's a strawberry-raspberry compote with sweet crème fraîche, toasted sweet breadcrumbs and loads of brown butter," she explains. "You've got to have the brown butter."
You may need a good long nap after some of these decadent brunch options, but at least your hunger should be satisfied until dinnertime.
For more up-to-the-minute news, "Like" O&B Yonge & Front on Facebook!