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Aug 7, 2008 12:25 PM

It's Worth the Drive to Nobleton

Having become quite jaded lately with Mississauga’s culinary offerings and trying to avoid the drive into Toronto with it’s associated traffic, parking and price/value dining challenges my wife and I headed north early last Friday evening to try a little bistro that had been recommended to us by our neighbors several times. We easily found Daniel's of Nobleton, a 20 minute drive north of Pearson Airport on the west side of Highway 27, just South of King Road. We were warmly welcomed into the cheery country-casual dining room with its soft yellow and green walls hung with many interesting paintings by local artists. Beyond the dining room there's a small bar and the door to the secluded outside patio.

Service began immediately with a demi-loaf of warm multigrain bread accompanied by an amuse of silken chicken liver pâté with a pool of gently crafted fresh berry vinegar. This little gem was garnished with dark green leaves of fragrant lovage from Daniel's herb garden, a delicious indication of a competent kitchen's output enjoyed while sipping our Pinot Grigio and discussing menu choices. Chef Daniel Gilbert writes a new menu every month and augments it with daily fish and game choices. Grilled Herb-crusted Salmon and Port-braised Ostrich were that day's specials.

We started with French Onion Soup that was thankfully lightly salted and a richly flavored, consommé-like, sparkling clear Duck and Wild Mushroom Soup. Not many places in my experience go to that length for a $4.95 soup of the day. We also shared Daniel's tasty creation of a just-ripe peach filled with smoked trout in a peach and honey yogurt sauce.

Just as we finished the trout starter our mains promptly arrived. The Fussilli Tosero, with ample smoked chicken, black olives, Bermuda onion and wild mushrooms in a roasted garlic cream sauce, was judged excellent. The flavorful Seafood Penne with shrimp, bay scallops and crabmeat was finished in an assertive rose sauce. Warning, this is definitely not the usual mild and creamy sauce rendering frequently encountered in so many of our too-Americanized Italian restaurants. The rose sauce's bisque-like flavor indicated a well crafted and substantially concentrated seafood stock as its foundation. It was another winner, although if I ordered this again I would order a more appropriate glass of hearty red with it.

We usually pass up desserts. However, purely in the interest of rounding out this culinary investigation for CH we ordered the Chocolate Mousse and the Rhubarb Crisp. The mousse was a sturdy rendering of the classic, rich with a high ratio chocolate in an eggy base, certainly not the usual fluffy experience. The homey and densely oat-topped crisp was a rustic rendering that reflected the restaurant's rural location. Its warm and cinnamon-pungent blend of apples, rhubarb and strawberries was not overly sweet and enhanced by being straddled by a scoop of good vanilla ice cream. Its ample size was enough for two to share. Freshly brewed cups of strong coffee complimented the sweets and provided a definitive end to our delightful meal.

Our jovial host and server provided pleasant and mostly competent service in a relaxed and friendly manner throughout the meal. We noticed the tablecloths complimented the delicate Wedgwood china’s subtle dusty rose pattern, another nice attention to detail here.

In considering our very satisfying dining experience at about $100 with taxes we found Daniel's to be of exceptional value and plan to return soon to move beyond our initial timid pasta choices to try some oven and grill items.

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  1. We recently dined at Daniel's on a Saturday evening and what a huge disappointment! There were 4 of us, and we all, at one point or another, had been trying to dine at this restaurant for some time, but just couldn't coordinate our schedules.
    Two of the guys shared a crab dip which was very unexciting and nothing to it really.
    I was very disappointed in the caesar salad I ordered. The salad was warm, limp and had absolutely no taste at all...not of garlic or anchovies which I love. Not a crouton, or shaving of parmesan in was tasteless, warm and limp. The 4th person however did enjoy their goat cccheese salad.
    For the entrees 3 of us ordered the elk and one ordered the pasta. The elk dishes arrived very plainly presented and the elk was one piece of meat on the plate. None of us could cut the elk and when we did manage it it was then unchewable. We told the server who was very understanding and took it all away. Daniel recommended the venison and we all agreed (however he did not come to our table). The venison was much better and was sliced nicely on the plate as opposed to the one thin piece of elk. The 4 person's pasta was overcooked.
    We shared 2 desserts, and the coffee was average and not strong as mentioned above.
    I supposed the purpose of this review is to state how complacent this restaurant has become....the dinner was truly "nothing special" and none of us can ever see ourselves returning.
    The restaurant has seen better days, as its decor is outdated with artificial flowers arrangements here and there. Fresh flowers could do wonders and how expensive can fresh flowers be?
    A slice of lemon or lime with the water would be a nice touch also.

    We fine/dine out quite regularly and truly know quality and decently prepared food, and we were al, as I mentioned, very disappointed.

    As a tip for a table to avoid - we sat at the back of the restaurant (not quite near the kitchen) but close enough that when staff go though the swinging doors in and out of the kitchen you can see very clearly ...the staff loading the dishwasher, scraping off the food into a big garbage can, and other various cleaning up jobs... that a diner/ guest would prefer not to see whilst eating. My suggestion is to turn the table sideways so no one has the sightlines into the kitchen and cleanup !

    1. Has anyone been to Daniel's lately? Any good experiences?

      5 Replies
      1. re: phoenikia

        Haven't been to Daniels for quite awhile, restaurant has it's devotees for special menus and sometime entertainment. The only other place of interest is the Arbour which you can check out online. It's a mile north of Daniels on the east side beside a service staion, but at this time of year the best feature is the terrific patio at the back away from the highway and truly enjoyable for it's space and wilderness. Was last there to see " the unknown blues guy " Joel Krivy who appears there occasionally and is actually a M.D. If passing by and a nice day, enjoy the patio if only for a beverage!

        1. re: phoenikia

          This was one of the worst dining experiences we have ever had.
          We decided to come for lunch. We were the only diners in the restaurant and we still could barely get service. We had to get our own wine menu, and the wine wasn’t delivered to our table until after our third request and our appetizers had already been served. On top of that our 'waiter' had never opened a bottle of wine and she said she didn't know how to do it because the owner wasn't there!That was on top of our request for some time of bread/roll that was never offered (delivered only after our mains), because the staff was almost completely absent throughout our visit (and remember we were the only ones there!). We could hear them talking in the kitchen, they just choose not to bother check on us at any point.
          Additionally the food was terrible. The Caesar salad was bland as was the soup, but fairly inexpensive and could be forgiven. The mains however were dreadful. My wife's smoked fish was dumped in a bed of unseasoned greens with some sauce slopped on it. My ‘sheppard’s pie’ had a choice of salad or ‘vegetables’ (though they option was only given 15-20 minutes after I ordered). I chose vegetables. When the dish arrived the vegetables were a stack of julienned carrots, green peppers and wilted celery. No dressing, no cooking, just a stack of julienned lower than stir fry grade vegetables. Additionally my 'Sheppard's pie' was a slop of greasy loose ground beef with some mashed potato piped on the top. If you think I am exaggerating I took a picture because of my complete and utter amazement. Terrible, terrible food. I have no idea how anyone gives this place a passable rating - it was one of the worst dining experiences I have ever had - and I have eaten mystery meat off of street carts in Asia.

          1. re: dreddly

            Wow. That is truly an unappetizing looking dish in your photo.

            1. re: JamieK

              Another good place one bites the dust.

              It looks like Daniel may have lost interest after 30 years, or someone else was in the kitchen that day.