Sunday, March 21, 2010

Restaurant Review: Boehmer

Just one week old yesterday, I arrived for my 8pm reservation at Boehmer; Ossington's latest go-to hotspot.  The owner, Paul Boehmer, formerly apprenticed for chef Michael Stadtländer (of Haisai and Eigensinn Farm), and also did stints at Six Steps (beside Colborne Lane) and the super-pricey Scaramouche.  I'm greeted by three well-dressed and friendly hosts - a good sign of the attitude-free service we would receive.  

The space was transformed from a garage into a beautiful, expansive, warmly lit free-flowing room with rich woods, an open kitchen in the back, and a bar that stretches nearly the length of the room.  The menu is chef Boehmer's version of Canadiana, and includes dishes like venison tartar, Oyster Boy oysters, roasted rabbit saddle with blood sausage, and chicken fricassee.  We opt for beet & goat cheese salad, Quebec pan-seared foie gras with blackcurrant purée and maple-glazed mutsu apples, Ontario pickerel, and veal cheeks with wild mushrooms, potato puree and red wine jus.

The beet salad was tasty, but nothing terribly new or interesting - standard fare.  The foie gras, however, was to die for.  The mutsu apples were tender and sweet with a touch of spice, pairing beautifully with the blackcurrant purée.  To accompany our appetizers, we order two French 75s; a wonderful old cocktail with gin, champagne and lemon juice.  Our server, Scott, was incredibly knowledgeable on all things cocktail.  We were in good hands.

Next come the mains.  The pickerel (my favourite fish), was pan-seared with the skin on.  It's cooked nicely and is complimented by the beets and spinach.  Solid dish; not necessarily memorable. But the real treat was the veal cheeks.  They were fork-tender and incredibly mouth-wateringly flavourful.  The mains took about 30-40 minutes to arrive, for which Scott apologized and kept never left us wondering where he (or our food) had gone.  Given the kitchen is one week in, I don't strike this against them.

We opt not to have dessert but instead more cocktails.  They didn't have pisco for pisco sours, but Scott thinks he's got a solution: Clover Clubs.  Success!  We try another drink, the Buck and Breck (named after the 15th American President, James Buchanan and his vice president, John C. Breckenridge), made with absinthe, agnostura bitters, sugar, cognac and champagne.  It's equally tasty.  He tries to sell us on one that's been infused with duck fat.  Sounds quite interesting - must try on my next visit; not for this one.  So besides the obvious (I had more than a couple cocktails that night), what I'm really trying to say is Boehmer has a great cocktail list, both classic and original.

The verdict is Boehmer is definitely worthy of a visit.  Friendly staff, reasonably priced menu, some great dishes, inventive cocktails and a good vibe.  The Restaurant Club approves! 

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