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Jan 30, 2011 05:07 PM

Blacktree (Burlington)

Over the past couple of years, I've been a strong proponent of Blacktree and Chef Matteo Paonessa's wizardry in the kitchen. I had another thoroughly enjoyable meal last week to celebrate my wife's birthday. I was going to write another review of a great evening, but the food writer at the Hamilton Spectator beat me to it. His comparison between Blacktree and Quaterfoil is reasonable. Having dined at both recently, Blacktree gets my vote for number 1 restaurant.

Here's the article from the Spec.

3029 New St, Burlington, ON L7N, CA

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  1. I was there last night (previous visit was 2009). Matteo is very playful with his flavour combinations and use of textures. A perfect example would be the “Pig and Lobster”; if you love the taste of pork and contrasting textures (soft, crispy, cool, hot) this dish should not be missed. The composed salad and foie gras were also excellent. The only "disappointment" would be the gnocchi (parmesan scented with shaved truffles). It was tasty, but not as "complex" or flavourful as the other dishes.

    If you're willing to explore unique flavour combinations and allow a chef to have fun on your plate, I highly recommend a trip down to Burlington.

    1. Hey, I voted for Blacktree as one of my top 10.
      For me pprobably the most 'exciting' restaurant in GTA. Doesn't always hit the mark perfectly, but always full marks for effort.
      And still the only restaurant outside the metropolitan Toronto area that I will drive to regularly.

      3029 New St, Burlington, ON L7N, CA

      3 Replies
      1. re: estufarian

        Yes! It was because of you I made a second visit. It fell off my radar until you listed it in your top 10 and provided me some feedback.

        I applaud his effort as well. I was trying to compare his style to other chefs and the first name that popped in my head was Pierre Gagnaire. Now before anyone condemns me to the gallows, I'm not saying he's on the same level with respect to the precision and execution of food. But there is a playfullness on his plate in the way he juxtaposes ingredients, that reminds me of PG ( maybe a PG in his early days??? or maybe a non-asian Susur??). That being said, I was disappointed in my meal at PG; perhaps I was expecting too much!

        601 King St W, Toronto, ON M5V1M5, CA

        1. re: Apprentice

          I wasn't impressed with Gagnaire. Had a REALLY bad wine experience there (a wine seriously over-the-hill) which coloured the whole experience, but the food didn't knock me out either. He seemed to take everything VERY seriously, yet Matteo takes a more whimsical approach (e.g. the mushroom ice-creams), as you also mention.
          It's hard to give a comparison that works without being even more obscure. Maybe Schwa (in Chicago) - except my guess is that few people on this Board have had the patience (endurance?) to get there. That's probably why I like it - it's just 'different'. Yet not 'scary different'.

          1. re: estufarian

            Well! Guess I might as well join in the ' Anti-Gagnaire ' camp too!
            I ate at both his Parisian 3* and his Hong Kong 2* outpost and were disappointed at both locations! Cannot remember any great dishes but did remember the pheasant in the Hong Kong restaurant was seriously overcooked!

      2. Consider Blacktree "on the radar" now. Patiaki just gave it 4 stars.

        3029 New St, Burlington, ON L7N, CA

        1. Had a very disappointing meal at Blacktree tonight. At $40+ per main and $20+ per appetizer, it's one on the most expensive restaurants in the gta. Sadly, the food did not come close to matching the asking price.

          Gnocchi + goat cheese appetizer was under seasoned. Overwhelming taste of onion was unpleasant. Olive something-or-other tasted off.

          Off-menu ribeye was over cooked to medium well +, had requested medium rare. Chef served ribeye sliced, so clearly wasn't putting out his best work. Not sure how that might have slipped.

          SO's foie app had potential, Bison strip loin was boring.

          Server was incompetent and aggressive, upselling and being pushy, while being inattentive when we needed him. Also inquired if we were still "grazing" while finishing our meals (seriously). Very awkward at many times. Other staff were pleasant and competent, and I wished one of them had served us.

          2 apps + 4 mains and a few glasses of wine & coffees came to $330 or so.

          Would not return.

          7 Replies
          1. re: justxpete

            I was there last month and had an excellent meal.
            Didn't write it up as I've been a fan for several years and my opinion hasn't changed.
            I DID note that the server(s) had changed and things weren't as smooth as before, but tthat didn't affect the food.
            The standout for me was the 'composed salad', but everything else was solid.

            1. re: estufarian

              This was bad all around. I wasn't even interested in trying my parents' meals (which I would normally do if enjoying the dishes).

              1. re: justxpete

                Sorry to hear about your bad experience. I suppose you must have hit the restaurant on an off night. Frankly, yours is the only negative review of this restaurant that I've seen. As estufarian mentioned - this is a favourite restaurant and I also have never had a bad meal there. I do however believe that Matteo's fusion style cooking may not be for everyone. Regardless, this is my favourite restaurant in the GTA - Matteo and his maitre'd Peter never disappoint.

                1. re: cynalan

                  No need to be frank. Extremely familiar with fusion cooking. This was one of my worst meals of 2013. In fact, given the price and distance, it may have been my worst meal of 2013. Would need to give it some thought.

                  1. re: cynalan

                    "Frankly, yours is the only negative review of this restaurant that I've seen."

                    You haven't been looking very hard -

                    Sort by "rating".

                    1. re: justxpete

                      OK, so there are few negative reviews out there. So what? One cannot please everyone, particularly at this price point. However, I will agree that the style of cooking can be polarizing... his fusion methods will either please, or not. I stand by my assertion that this is my favourite restaurant in the GTA. You, or course, are entitled to your own opinion, but directing me to a site where a poster compares Wimpy's to Blacktree... seriously?

                      Further, if I never went to a restaurant with a poor review, then I guess I would be eating at home a lot. lol What's that old adage? Oh yeah, you can't please everyone.

                      1. re: cynalan

                        You're the one getting defensive about your restaurant. Not me. I'm not sure what your issue is.

                        You said " Frankly, yours is the only negative review of this restaurant that I've seen" (lol), dismissing my experience. I found many after looking for all of 2 seconds. I can't speak to all those reviews or be responsible for all of those posts, but feel free to cherry pick one review and discredit the entire site. Well done.

                        I've had more experience with 'fusion' cooking than many (what isn't these days?). On this night, it was a very mediocre example. Even the basics failed. How do you serve a well done, sliced steak, to someone that asked for medium rare?

                        The food was poor. Very poor. They had an off night. Leave it at that and move on.