Well, another year has passed, and it was birthday night again! Betty & Sandy showed me a wonderful time on my birthday, and the weather was pleasant! I’ve had some birthday celebrations in the middle of fierce winter storms.
We started at Sandy’s, with some truffled hummous from Leslieville Cheese, which Sandy served up attractively with endive spears:
And because it was cocktail hour, Sandy made wonderful Negronis: gin, sweet vermouth, Campari, twist of lemon and a splash of soda. She’s so talented: mixing cocktails while on a conference call 🙂 Great way to start the evening.
From there, we walked out to Queen Street, to grab a taxi. Where were we going? I didn’t know. It was only when we got out of the cab and crossed the street that I knew we were eating at Ici Bistro.
Coats removed to be hung up in the back, we were seated, had menus to review… and we started with another cocktail. I didn’t document them, but they were delicious. Sandy’s was bourbon based, Betty’s … I forget, Betty, please comment! And mine had green chartreuse.
We were presented with absolutely delicious little amuse gueles: caramelized onion and goat cheese tartlets. A few bites of wonderful contrasts with the sweet onion flavour, the rich creamy goat cheese, and a little sparkle of acid, all wrapped in a tender buttery pastry.
While sipping and eating, we started looking at the menu. Everything is offered in two sizes. Because we love sharing foods, we went for the smaller sized plates, and shared everything. Bread and butter were next at the table. All in-house breads.
The wine came and was decanted (missed getting a picture of the label). That was followed by the steak tartare and croquettes. The tartare was traditionally prepared, with all of the ingredients chopped and mixed together, shaped into quenelles for us to eat. Croquettes were of mashed potato, fried crispy on the outside, deliciously soft and creamy on the inside.
Next came the meant-for-sharing charcuterie plate, which had a couple of types of sausage, some pork belly, a paté de campagne, and (out of range of the camera) three slices of paté de foie gras that went down like the most amazing butter. Cornichons and twists of delicious bread sticks rounded out the plate.
We followed that up with a fowl dish: magret of duck breast a l’orange, which had a delightful anise flavour (I think it was probably provided by the traditional ingredient for the dish, which is oil of anise, plus a hint of sweetness of orange. The other meat on the plate is thigh and leg of squab — young pigeon that hasn’t fledged, so it’s very tender, and rich. These were accompanied by melt-in-your-mouth scalloped potatoes and white asparagus.
Next up (good thing we were sharing all of this) was foie gras au naturel. It came with a delicious batonne of black trumpet mushrooms that had been cooked, then shaped into this large french-fry shape, then fried. Excellent accompaniment to the liver. We fell on it so quickly that I missed getting its picture. I seem to do that once per dinner.
Final meat dish was lamb two ways: pulled leg of lamb inside a cannelloni, and a couple of rib chops from a rack of lamb. A mushroom truffle ragout, a cipollini onion. Amazing sauces. Wow. Wonderful, fragrant, rich, tender, delicious.
Next came a little birthday surprise! A platter decorated with chocolate script and three white chocolate thimbles, each containing a cherry that had been soaking in kirsch for a long time. Total change of direction, and absolutely yummy. If those big Cherry Blossoms tasted anything like this, I’d be a candy addict. Just the right proportions of ingredients.
Next, we got port and cheese.
Taylor Fladgate 20-year-old tawny. It’s got legs!
And the plateau of cheese gave us a wonderful end to the dinner: 5 types of cheeses, ranging from a very soft and runny brie type, through to harder cheeses, one of which had some of that nuttyness that Oka used to have before Agropur bought them out and blanded everything, and a soft cambazola-like blue — but with more blue! Add slices of Gala apple for acid, and some more of those delicious and crisp bread sticks.
Good night, Ici! See you again.
Good thing we walked back to Sandy’s.
But the walk back to Sandy’s meant passing this place…
So we brought back a few pastries and shared them with Damir and a bottle of bubbly! What a great dinner. Thanks, Sandy & Betty!