HOME > Chowhound > Ontario (inc. Toronto) >

Discussion

Eigensinn Farms

  • 19
  • Share

What does anyone know about Eigensinn Farms I was consider eating up there for a special meal??

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
Delete
Posting Guidelines | FAQs | Feedback
Cancel
  1. Best meal I've ever had. About 5 years ago it was $150 pp. Now, I think it is around $250 and it's BYOW. It is a gourmet feast served in Michael Stadtlanders dining room. About 16 seats total. When we reserved, we had to book about 6 months in advance.

    1. One of the best meals of my life. It's hard to believe that at that price I would say that it's worth every penny, but, it is. And, I'd add that there is a lack of pretension (cf. Susur) about the experience. It's just about the food, which was a revelation. And, Stadtlander's wife, who serves the food, is a delightful woman. Someone on a previous thread dismissed MS, saying something to the effect that, 'yeah, his stuff is fresh, and he's only OK, but so what.' DO NOT listen to them. GO. Enjoy. I think that it was May 2002 when a group of eight of us went, and I think that we made the reservations about six or eight weeks in advance, not six months, but it was for a Wednesday night, so perhaps that made it easier.

      5 Replies
      1. re: hungry_pangolin

        How was the farm itself , was dinner rushed and how was the presentations?? I'm curious what you guys had to eat also. Thanks

        1. re: chef223

          I went there about 4 years ago. The dinner was not rushed & the presentation was good. I didn't stay much time in the farm though, so no comment on the farm.
          You don't know what to eat until about 1 week before the actual date. They'll fax you the menu so you can bring your wine to match it.
          IMHO It's definitely worth trying.

        2. re: hungry_pangolin

          I'm sorry, but I have to agree with some of the 'less than positive' comments made by fellow CHs in previous posting about the farm. Please do not get me wrong! MS food is pretty good. However, whether it is worth that amount of money and the long two hours drive from Toronto is highly debatable. My main complain after eating there is that, for the price MS is charging ( arguably one of the most expensive in Canada ), the meal, in most part, lacks the 'Wow factor' usually associated with eating establishments and chefs of such reputation and stature. To quote James Chatto ' MS cooking is UNPARALLEL in Canada '.!!

          To date, I am extremely fortunate to have eaten in a fair number of Michelin star restaurants through out Europe, SF and NYC, as well as a number of great ones around the Pacific rim. In almost all cases, I can remember vividly some of the outstanding dishes offered by these culinary meccas. The 'Tarte fin aux truffes' of Joel Robouchon, the 'Foie gras and truffles stuffed pigs feet' of Boyer's Les Crayeres, Troigros' simple but uber delicious 'Semi cooked salmon with sorrel cream sauce', Guy Savoy's 'Sweetbread, scampi and scallops combo', Daniel Boulud's 'Potato wrapped sea bass with Barolo reduction', the amazing 'Seafood terrine' of French Iron chef Sakai's La Rochelle, to name just a few. But! When it comes to MS's farm, I honestly cannot recall a single 'stand out' dish that I had! On the contrary, I did remember being served a bowl of rather mediocre tasting 'Baby green pea puree soup with house-smoked ham shavings'. Both the peas and the pig from which the ham was made, we were told, were grown and raised directly on the farm. That said, I was therefore rather disappointed to find the outcome of the dish, using such ultra-fresh' ingredients, to be 'dull'.

          Anyways, if our own 'downtown' superb Splendido only charges $130 for a 6/7 course tasting menu, I would rather have two of David Lee's dinner than driving 2 hours for one of MS's! With the Canadian $ at par with the green back, for that money, one can even eat at Thomas Keller's Per Se! And MS is no Thomas Keller!!

          1. re: Charles Yu

            Hey Charles,

            Although he is no Thomas Keller, would you say that MS is as close as Canada comes in terms of operation? Have you visited The French Laundry? Do tell, do tell! From what I've read about Keller, as a chef, his style seems more similar to Perigee's Pat Riley...not that I'm making any comparison here...

            1. re: dlw88

              I would say MS's food and style is more like Alice Waters's Chez Panisse. Both like to use ultra-fresh ingredients and simple preparation methods to highlight the main components.
              To compare MS's farm to the French Laundry/Per Se is like comparing apples to oranges. Thomas Keller's establishments provide the 'total package' experience. Not just food and ambience but service and wine as well. And the attention to the smallest detail is 'unreal'. Where else do you find a restaurant providing you with 6 types of 'salt' for your Wagyu beef? French Fleur de sel, Celtic sea salt from Wales, multi million years old Jurassic mineral salt from Dakota...etc? And the presentation is pure art. BTW, the amuse bouche 'platter' alone has seven decadent components!! Oyster, quail egg, foie gras, caviar ( not the Russian or Iranian types Ha! ), lobster...!! But then, I guess this is the current trend of a lot of Michelin 3 stars. That is, a tendency to cramp a lot of goddies on one platter and 'Wow' you just by looking at it. One of the three desserts in Boyer's 3 star Les Crayeres' tasting menu is a chocolate platter containing 11 different chocolate based morsels!! Man! I just had dinner and I am already hungry just by thinking about them!!

        3. Although I'm normally in agreement with Charles Yu, and find him a highly reliable source, I beg to differ in this instance. As I stated in my profile, one of the stand-out dishes of my life was whitefish with stinging nettle: the simplest possible ingredients became the most unimaginably beautiful dish. Not to be overly poetic, but such respect was accorded the ingredients that they seem to have been prepared as to reveal their very essence. I was with a well respected chef in this city, and he was no less fulsome in his praise than I. Charles Yu found a dish "dull", and, at that price, that's a legitimate complaint. I didn't have that experience. I guess my advice would be, if you're not stealing from the rent money, go and form your own decision.

          I will agree with Charles about the transportation question, that it is problematic. But, I don't drive.

          As to the farm, well, it doesn't win praise for appearance, which is fine. It looks like any other farm around Singhampton. It's an old farmhouse, and, when I was there, there was a derelict school bus on the property. When we arrived, we entered through the wrong door, and ended up coming through the kitchen by accident. Chef just said hello, come in, with a nice smile. This is a place where a lack of pretension (not vulgarity) on the part of the customer will probably earn you greater attention from the staff. Dinner was at a beautifully leisurely pace, but then, there really is only one seating a night. Service was informal, and friendly, not Splendido, which is OK, because the vibe is completely different.

          1. OK Chef223. Come clean.
            First you say you're going to "consider eating" at Eigensinn.
            Then you say "he's food is way above the level of Chez Panisse. Water's food is solid, fresh , yet simple classics. While MS food is not simple by any stretch of the imagination and he serves a ten course tasting menu. .. "

            That second statement requires a knowledge of both places!

            For the benefit of all others who read this thread, that '9th in the world' is an aberration! MS is a talented chef who follows a 'food philosophy' of fresh, organic, locally raised, seasonal food. That's an identical philosophy to Alice Waters at Chez Panisse - and as such is probably the closest comparison and the best description of what to expect.
            Eigensinn farm is worth a visit (if you can afford $250 - no credit cards) to, if nothing else, get a benchmark for what 'natural' dining is all about. It's a small kitchen, with mainly volunteer (and family) help - the antithesis of "fine dining" - almost like eating in a family environment.
            The menu is rarely available a week in advance - 24-48 hours is more realistic, and is almost always different on the night anyway - even from the 48 hour advance menu!
            As an experience, I'd take it over French Laundry and Per Se anyday. But none of the three are in my top 10 restaurants worldwide. And I've had many more satisfying meals in Canada (including at Splendido and Susur, and even at MS himself when he was cooking in Toronto). It's the whole experience at Eigensinn that is memorable. The respect for the food (a la Waters), that pervades the entire experience. Other than those two places, the only other place I've found that gives the same 'feeling' is Mugaritz (near San Sebastian).
            I try and get to Eigensinn every couple of years (agree that it's too far to drive back - so you have to add the cost of a B&B also - another $50-$75pp- plus transportation to/from B&B if you're drinking). My impression is that MS has achieved what he was trying to do - and there's been very little 'development' for a few years (in common with many of the chefs of his generation). In particular, I find that he hasn't been overly-conscious of the textural components of his food. The flavours are certainly pure and intense - but you're not going to get sous-vide or cutting edge techniques (aka 'fads' in incompetent hands).

            And to get a reservation - just call well in advance (couple of months). There are only 10-12 places each night and he only opens for reservations. I've had good luck calling late afternoon/early evening (say between 5-7). There's usually someone there at that time (no answering machine - they don't call you back).

            9 Replies
            1. re: estufarian

              Perhaps chef223 ate at Nekah, or some other place MS had in Troronto, or when he would 'guest chef' at Palmerston. Not to get us off topic, but I prefer Eigensinn to Susur by a long shot. When I first went to Susur, I was struck by the manipulation of the colour of the light throughout the evening: such a distracting gimick. Paff!

              1. re: hungry_pangolin

                Different strokes etc.
                Incidentally a group of us ate at both Eigensinn and the private room at Susur - about 6 weeks apart. With the $40 corkage at Susur the meal cost was fairly even at both (but no 2-3 hour drive and no B&B). THIS year we preferred Susur! Especially as we were couples and Susur served a different menu to each of the partners. So we got to try double the number of dishes.

              2. re: estufarian

                Hello Estufarian,
                I noticed this is the third or fourth time you mentioned Mugaritz on this blog when topics relating to fine food/dining are being discussed. As one of the most articulated and knowledgeable foodie on this board, your postings have always been fun, enjoyable and educational to read. Therefore, your granting of such high praise and accolades to Mugaritz must really reflect the fact that the dining experience you had there must be 'really special'. As such, may be you would like to share one of those experience with us fellow salivating CHs.
                BTW, I have dined in Arzak, San Sebastian once, many years ago ( 16?) and that experience was quite memorable. Compare to French Michelin 3 stars, Spanish 3 stars are really 'value for money'.
                Lastly, to avoid being deleted, please let us know before hand which board you intend to post on. Should you decide to share your story.
                Cheers!

                1. re: Charles Yu

                  Thanks for the compliment!
                  I'm heading out-of-town today - no time for full response.
                  But - example - right by the door at Mugaritz there was a wood-burning brazier. As you enter the restaurant you are breathing in the smoky aromas - this means that everybody that enters starts with the same 'olfactory preparation'. This is intentional (I assume) as this becomes the starting point for the tasting menu (which most people order). It's that "approach" that reminds me of Eigensinn etc.
                  Email me - my address is on my profile to remind me to say more when I return.
                  And, for completeness - Mugaritz is around #8 on my all-time list. Some of the food is pretty unusual! Lamb shank in salted caramel sauce anyone? That was a superb dish - but a difficult wine match! Arzak has deteriorated.

                  1. re: estufarian

                    Talk about difficult wine match. The Pig's liver with dark chocolate sauce that I once had at Paris' Lucas Carton was pretty impossible too! Sometimes chef can really go 'bonkers'!!

                    1. re: Charles Yu

                      Hermitage La Sizeranne, '83. Drinking very well right now with chocolate pig's liver.

                      1. re: Snarf

                        Interesting recs., Thanks! Actually, I was thinking of Banyuls?! BTW, did you also had the pig's liver by Sanderens?! ( during or after Lucas Carton? )

                      2. re: Charles Yu

                        sounds like my 2* experience last year which consisted of buttom mushrooms in chocolate froth.
                        Even the finest restaurants have off days, and dishes that don't quite do it.
                        I have eaten at two 3* and two 2* in the past couple of weeks.
                        In each category, one was a bad menu choice, or an off night (at these prices yet). or simply the style not matching my expectations.
                        Yet the experience at the other two were mind blowing. sheer bliss...
                        What I am attempting to say is that everyone has a different experience, even at the same restaurant, no matter what the ranking .

                        1. re: erly

                          We've moved a digression about Michelin stars and Ontario to the Food Media and News board, at http://www.chowhound.com/topics/44621...

                2. Aside from what's already been said:
                  -bring lotsa cash
                  -bring more wine than you think you'll need
                  -pre-arrange a designated driver
                  -be warned that courses are served at the same time to everyone in the dining room; so if another party's late, and you've finished your amuse, you'll have to wait for them to finish *their* amuse before you see your next course.