Enjoyed our dinner at Haisai, will be back...to the bakery
The recurring theme of the night was 'Hmm, I like this, but cant say much more'.
We liked the interior decoration (also I must confess I dont really know what he was going for with it, and that I have a genuine suspicion that he wasnt going for anything specific). We liked the rudimentary and reasonably priced All-Ontario wine list (good enough for us, and there is always their BYOW policy with reasonable $30 corkage fee), we liked the beginning courses and his integration of smoked bacon into the dishes, and we enjoyed the 'piglet main'. The cheese course was also ok, as was the dessert course with brownie/sorbet combination.
Yet at the end of the night, the only thing that stood out for us was the sourdough bread. absolutely nothing wowed us. I have criticized people for making comparisons with European restaurants on this board, but this was a $400 dinner for two, before tip and with a very moderately priced bottle of wine. At the current exchange rates, I couldnt help but think about the kind of food that we would get with this type of money in, say, Paris.
I dont regret my decision, but I will be back only to the bakery for that awesome bread.
I don't know about Haisai, however, the meals I had at Stadlander's farm fell way short of my expectation!!
Taking into account of the long drive, the mediocre ambiance, the so-so tasty food and the mega-bucks they charge, I have had far better and less expensive Michelin 3* meals elsewhere on earth (especially those in Spain, Japan and Italy)!
If Stadtlander is to move his ' country theme, farm grown' outfit back to metro-Toronto. Without the 'farm and country theme', IMO, he'll just be another good chef amongst many in town?! If he try taking advantage of his name and charge the price he is charging now in Collingswood, he'll be out of business in no time!! BTW, compare to a lot of current Michelin star chefs, especially Japanese ones, Stadtlander's plate presentation simply disappoints!
To each his own!!
I’m going to chime in here, as I was up at Haisai for the first time, this weekend.
First of all, this is an experience like none other offered anywhere close to the GTA right now. If you can afford the flight and time to Paris, you might be lucky to have better value for your $400 spent on a meal there.
Everyone, whose opinion of food that I trust, had provided me with little detail about the restaurant and meal, and simply assured me that I would leave thoroughly content…and they were right! For this reason, I’m not about to spoil every last detail of our 10 courses. The bread WAS delicious, but only taken to the next level with the sopping up of any of Stadtlander’s outstanding sauces (we may have had our bread replenished four times!). There were a number of WOWs from our table, and much respect for the attention to detail. It is impossible to imagine the contrasting mouth feel and mouthwatering flavours of tenderly dulcet piglet meat and perfectly seasoned and crisp skin, which can only be relived at Haisai.
Here’s a little tease for WOW…
Warm Creamy Cucumber Soup
Fresh cream, cucumber and dill from the garden…
Quenelle-shapen perch dumpling…
Four small packets of sorrel from the garden, wrapped in paper-thin in-house cold-smoked perch…
Served in a homemade ceramic bowl, with built-in stand to support a large dill sprig…
Michael’s wife, Nobuyo, was such a friendly and warm host, and together they came around to each table, soon after dessert had been served.
Like those who have visited Haisai, before me, have said… Just Go!