Last night we finally tried ēst restaurant, which opened in our neighbourhood a few months ago. Their Instagram account has been filling my mouth with saliva since then, so were glad to make reservations when our friend SueB suggested it. Unfortunately she had a sudden engagement which pulled her away at the last minute, but we carried on.

The space itself is beautiful — it’s hard to believe this is where Sugarloaf Bakery used to be — and quite comfortable. The room holds two groups of four, eight two-tops, and a handful of bar seats. They wisely resisted the urge to cram one more table in.

The service is a teeeeeensy bit on the stuffy side, but our server James warmed up to us through the meal, and Sommelier Tiffany Jamison-Horne was delightful. She pulled some deep cuts for the premium wine pairings too, as you can see below. I didn’t get any notes on producer and vintage of the wines, but think I can remember everything generally.

  • Cocktails
  • Omnibus amuse-bouche: (1) prawn hot dog w/ chive mustard, brioche; (2) pork cheek w/ fish sauce caramel; (3) sunchoke skin w/ whipped sunchoke, sunflower seed condiment; (4) red pepper chip w/ fermented red pepper relish, cashew sour cream
  • Red fife bannock w/ butter covered in dried Saskatoon berries
    • Franciacorta
  • Squid w/ grilled cabbage, vegan XO sauce
    • Dry Riesling from the Finger Lakes
  • Smoked corn broth w/ poached lobster, foie mousse
    • Pinot Gris from Alsace
  • Potato dumplings w/ cultured butter
    • Pearl Morissette “Metis Blanc” Chardonnay
  • BC Steelhead trout w/ kohlrabi, sesame sambal, potato emulsion
    • Etna Bianco
  • Sixty-hour sous vide short rib w/ beef fat confit leek, jus (Dan)
    • Merlot/Cab blend from Margaux
  • Smoked duck breast w/ radish top pesto, marinated radish, duck confit sourdough doughnut (Lindsay)
    • Pinot Noir from Sancerre (!)
  • Sea buckthorn cream soda palate cleanser
  • Root vegetable sundae: potato skin ice cream, sweet potato brownie, parsnip dulce de leche
    • Pedro Ximinez from Montilla-Moriles
  • Orange & olive caramel petit fours
    • Sauternes

In short: one of the best tastings menus I’ve had in some time. That includes Smyth in Chicago earlier this month, which sports two Michelin stars and cost us twice as much. Usually there’s a course in every testing menu that underwhelms, but every course we tried last night was 100% on point. That bannock course, served along with a lesson in colonialist misdeeds, was every bit as memorable as Alo’s famous milk bun intermezzo.

It sounds as if their menu will be expanding in the new year, but we’ll be back before then. As phenomenal as the short rib was, I need me that duck.

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