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Man-only BYOB birthday bash - Blacktree, Rundles or Treadwell?!

Charles Yu May 30, 2011 05:03 PM

Every year, my foodie brother-in-law and I would like to pick a couple of special places ( with tasting menu and wine pairing options) for our 'man-only' birthday bash. After exhausting ALL in town options from the old Splendido and Truffles to Auberge, Canoe, George, Scaramouche, Chiado, Colborne Lane....etc, we started looking for venues outside of the city. Last year, we drove all the way out to Langdon Hall and had a disappointing and totally 'underwhelming' dining experience. Compare to the unrivaled tasting menus created by David Lee at Splendido before his Nota Bene days, the Langdon Hall version sucked!!! Period!!

This year, we have narrowed down our options to Blacktree, Rundles or Treadwell ( with Bloomfield Carriage House a possible fourth?... so far a drive though!! )..

Question! If one have to drive over an hour for that meal, which of the three ( or four ) will have the LEAST CHANCE TO DISAPPOINT ( based on recent dining experience please) ? I have heard so many good things about Blacktree ( from fellow chowhounders Estufarian and skylineR33...etc ). However, I do not believe thay have a chef's tasting menu?! Other recommendations ( which I might overlooked ) are also most welcome!

  1. TorontoJo May 30, 2011 05:08 PM

    I haven't been there, but I'll throw out Quatrefoil out in Dundas.

    http://www.quatrefoilrestaurant.com/

    I imagine that even if Blacktree and Quatrefoil do not have tasting menus as a regular offering, they would both be willing to put one together if you asked them.

    -----
    Blacktree
    3029 New St, Burlington, ON L7N, CA

    1 Reply
    1. re: TorontoJo
      Charles Yu May 30, 2011 05:48 PM

      Great suggestion TorontoJo!! Totally skipped my mind!
      Anyone who can survive working under Gordon Ramsay and Marco Pierre White should be pretty good!!
      Man! Imagine driving all the way to Hamilton for a meal!! Better be good???!!!!

    2. skylineR33 May 30, 2011 05:36 PM

      Hey Charles, Treadwell has a tasting menu, I have only tried it's a la carte, and would like to have a chance to try out it's tasting menu. If it is me, I will pick Treadwell for its tasting menu ! Are you going to bring your 82 Mouton along this time ? Man, what a lucky birthday boy !

      6 Replies
      1. re: skylineR33
        Charles Yu May 31, 2011 07:02 AM

        Ha! Ha! May be?? But I'll be saving the '89 Haut Brion ( for you, just in case??!!)
        Back to tasting menu, I know for sure Treadwell has one and so does Rundles. However, for the latter, they have $20 supplement for Foie Gras, lobster...etc which can add up fast!!!!
        I'll be calling Quatrefoil to see whether they do tasting menu if given advance notice. Credential of the chefs/owner really impresses. I was a fan of Marco Pierre White when I was in London years ago! And then everyone heard of Gordon Ramsay, Right? But that drive to Hamilton from Richmond Hill!!! Man! Helicopter from Buttonfield?! If I win the lottery by the birthday date??!! Ha!

        @ Estufarian. Is Splendido still charging a whopping $40 for corkage? Emperor in Richmond Hill gave me Riedel Sommelier glasses ( if ask ) and zero corkage fee after my second visit!

        -----
        Splendido
        88 Harbord Street, Toronto, ON M5S 1G5, CA

        Treadwell
        61 Lakeport Road, St. Catharines, ON L2N 4P6, CA

        1. re: Charles Yu
          jlunar May 31, 2011 07:23 AM

          I'm jumping in for Estufarian. Last I checked, it was $30 and corkage-free dining at the bar on Mondays, Tuesdays, and Wednesdays.
          ---
          http://www.corkagetoronto.com/ - for free or for a fee, bring your wine!

          1. re: Charles Yu
            skylineR33 May 31, 2011 07:49 AM

            Rundles is 160km from Richmond Hill ! Bring a coffee along and get a 407 transponder, ha. I have heard good things about Quatrefoil from my sister too, want to visit there one day.

            "89 Haut Brion ( for you, just in case??!!)"

            If you are gonna bring along this kind of wine or the like, call me up anytime, I will be the driver and pay for your meal, rain or shine.

            1. re: skylineR33
              Charles Yu May 31, 2011 03:56 PM

              Hay skylineR33! I'll bring the Haut Brion but can you drive to Chicago for a meal at Alinea instead?! Ha!!!

              1. re: Charles Yu
                estufarian May 31, 2011 04:46 PM

                If you can get the reservation!
                Corkage is $80 at Alinea.
                $2 at Schwa!

                1. re: Charles Yu
                  aser Jun 8, 2011 12:17 PM

                  damn 89 haut brion, don't think any meal will be able to top that.

                  my only experience w/ the restaurants mentioned have been Treadwell, and that was only for lunch. Ok, but not destination worthy.

          2. estufarian May 31, 2011 06:11 AM

            I suggest you first check that all of these accept BYOW - that might make your decision for you.

            Last time I was at each of the three places, they didn't feature tasting menus 'as such'.

            And, of course, Splendido has now re-introduced its tasting menu - but I haven't tried it yet. (But they DO have BYOW).

            -----
            Splendido
            88 Harbord Street, Toronto, ON M5S 1G5, CA

            1 Reply
            1. re: estufarian
              y
              ylsf May 31, 2011 06:17 PM

              I dined at Splendido back in April and had the tasting menu. I don't know if it was generally offered at the time but I had bid on a charity item at an auction. It was a great meal and I really enjoyed it as did my guests. The service was excellent (as I hear is standard) and I wouldn't hesitate to suggest it to others. The only other tasting menu I have done was at Scaramouche a few months before that. The tasting menu at Scaramouche was longer (more varied items) so that would give it a slight edge for me over Splendido but I don't have the normal pricing to compare values as both items were through charity auctions.

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              Splendido
              88 Harbord Street, Toronto, ON M5S 1G5, CA

            2. c
              CocoTO May 31, 2011 10:40 AM

              Can only comment on Treadwell's as a destination I frequent regularly ... I love going there, and would classify the cuisine as very good but short of awesome. Having said that, James Treadwell really augments each occasion with discussion of his wine list and what's happening locally ... it's been too many years for me to really comment on Rundles, but I remember it as being more in the David Lee@Splendido class. I would actually appreciate a review of Rundles from someone who has been recently ...

              You may not want to consider this option, it just being two of you, but the ex chef of Vinelands, Marc Picone - http://www.chefmarkpicone.com/dining.php - dishes up a great private dining experience and you can bring all your own wines.

              -----
              Treadwell
              61 Lakeport Road, St. Catharines, ON L2N 4P6, CA

              Picone's
              34 King St W, Dundas, ON L9H, CA

              3 Replies
              1. re: CocoTO
                Charles Yu May 31, 2011 03:54 PM

                Thanks for your input CocoTO!
                I've eaten Marc Picone's cooking a few times in the past when he was at the helm of Vineland, though none of them of my choosing. I was not at all impressed preferring the meals from Peller Estates and Hillebrand instead.
                My current inclination is towards Quaterfoil.

                -----
                Picone's
                34 King St W, Dundas, ON L9H, CA

                1. re: CocoTO
                  prima Jun 8, 2011 12:11 PM

                  I take cooking classes at Rundles each year, and I am a fan of Chef Baxter's cooking. I like the ingredients he uses, and the ways in which he uses them. He plans his menus over the winter and spring, and a lot of thought goes into the menu, which changes each year. His sous chef Mike is also talented.

                  For the last few years, Rundles offers a Sophisto Bistro menu, for those who would like a quicker, more casual and more economical meal (around $55 for the prix fixe), in addition to the more formal Rundles Restaurant menu (closer to $90 for the prix fixe). Although it's a splurge, if you're only dining in Stratford once in a blue moon, and if it won't put too much of a dent in your dining wallet, I'd go with the Rundles Restaurant menu, which is more complex. Chef Baxter's breads and desserts are also very good.

                  I plan to visit both the Rundles Restaurant and the Sophisto Bistro at some point this season.

                  Keep in mind that Stratford is a tourist destination, so $100 at a Stratford restaurant might not purchase what $100 buys in Toronto, or elsewhere. I recently had a 3 course dinner at Bijoux, which runs around $54, and while one of the better restaurants in Stratford, you can have a better dinner for less in Toronto.

                  1. re: prima
                    c
                    CocoTO Jun 8, 2011 12:37 PM

                    thanks for the intel, Prima ... think we'll head out there this summer!

                2. a
                  Apprentice May 31, 2011 04:19 PM

                  A quick comment. While Blacktree is by far the most exciting of the three, it is also most risky cuisine with regards to food combinations and the possibility of disappointment.

                  Isn't Treadwell's tasting menu essentially a tasting version of it's a la carte? That's what it was when I dined there.

                  -----
                  Treadwell
                  61 Lakeport Road, St. Catharines, ON L2N 4P6, CA

                  Blacktree
                  3029 New St, Burlington, ON L7N, CA

                  7 Replies
                  1. re: Apprentice
                    cynalan Jun 4, 2011 07:50 PM

                    Apprentice - you are correct. Treadwell's does not have a true tasting menu. It's more of a prix fixe with multiple courses that are already part of the regular menu. However, it is one of my favourite go to spots when in Niagara on the Lake attending a play at the Shaw Festival. My SO and I have had a number of good dinners there, including winemaker dinners with matched pairings.

                    However, for a really special night, my recommendation without reservation would be Blacktree. IMHO, it is one of the best restaurants in Southern Ontario. The menu changes monthly and if you are into unique combinations of ingredients and are somewhat adventurous, give it a shot. As for a tasting menu, try letting Chef Matteo know the wines you play to bring and I'm sure he would be willing to whip up something special for you.

                    As for Rundles... I've never been a fan. I've found this to be one of the most over-hyped, over-priced restaurants in Stratford. Granted, my experience is from nearly 8 years ago, when I found the menu dull, boring and basic, wait staff inattentive and prices ridiculously high for a mediocre dining experience. I would not recommend, but as stated, have not been there in a very, very long time.

                    -----
                    Treadwell
                    61 Lakeport Road, St. Catharines, ON L2N 4P6, CA

                    Blacktree
                    3029 New St, Burlington, ON L7N, CA

                    1. re: cynalan
                      Charles Yu Jun 5, 2011 02:06 PM

                      Based on the resume of the owner/chefs, we are leaning more and more towards 'Quatrefoil'. However, so far there's no recent review or write-ups by chowhounders?!

                      1. re: Charles Yu
                        TorontoJo Jun 5, 2011 05:00 PM

                        That's probably because it's in Dundas. :) You can be our advance guard...

                        1. re: TorontoJo
                          Charles Yu Jun 5, 2011 08:34 PM

                          Food better be good?! Gasoline cost alone, from Richmond Hill and back, will equal cost of entree! Ha!

                          1. re: Charles Yu
                            c
                            Cheech5001 Jun 8, 2011 12:58 PM

                            I've eaten at Quatrefoil many times, most recently a couple of weeks ago, and I can not reccomend it strongly enough!

                            The food, wine list and service are all superb- I strongly suggest you try the 2007 Tawse Meritage they have on their list - a great bottle!

                            1. re: Cheech5001
                              Charles Yu Jun 8, 2011 05:49 PM

                              Thanks for your input! I actually made a reservation today requesting for a 6 course tasting menu with Venison as one of the meat course for our party. I also had a nice chat with the lady chef about Pierre Marco White whose cooking I ate years ago in London. Should be fun!!??!! Will be BYOB though!

                              1. re: Charles Yu
                                c
                                Cheech5001 Jun 13, 2011 09:24 AM

                                An excellent choice!! Do post a review to let me know if it lives up to your expectations!

                  2. k
                    KevH Jun 8, 2011 05:36 PM

                    I have tried Treadwell last year during the labour day weekend, and Rundle the year before on the Civic Holiday weekend.

                    Treadwell's "tasting menu" (with photos taken with a blackberry, excuse the poor quality, and photos not posted in order)

                    Pan-seared Foie Gras with brioche

                    Tomotos w/ garlic croutons and Monforte Toscano cheese

                    White fish with scalloped potato, heirloom carrots, spinach and smoked bacon cream

                    Various Mushroom, potato gnocchi with butter froth

                    Lavender and honey glazed duck breast with turnip, potato and pickled cherries

                    Whole Peach cobbler with lavender ice cream

                    The food was well prepared, but for myself and my girlfriend, we find Rundle's atomsphere and food prepared more to our taste. Treadwell's "farm to table" philosophy shows in the freshness of their food, although the foie gras could be prepared better or the quality could be better (it didn't have the melt in your mouth texture)

                    Memory is sketchy for the food we had in Rundle, but I remember we both agree it was quite good.

                    -----
                    Treadwell
                    61 Lakeport Road, St. Catharines, ON L2N 4P6, CA

                     
                     
                     
                     
                     
                     
                    1. skylineR33 Jun 19, 2011 10:02 PM

                      I have recently tried the tasting menu at Treadwell (not on Father's day). IIRC, one course is not in the regular menu and one course has a main ingradient, pork belly, which is not in the regular menu. Overall very satisfied with the experience, both food and atmosphere, so I think I should be posting it here with some pics.

                      Note: One of the pic is the hand-written tasting menu for us by the chef.

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                      Treadwell
                      61 Lakeport Road, St. Catharines, ON L2N 4P6, CA

                       
                       
                       
                       
                       
                       
                       
                       
                      2 Replies
                      1. re: skylineR33
                        Charles Yu Jun 20, 2011 06:51 AM

                        Nice!!!!

                        1. re: skylineR33
                          jlunar Jun 20, 2011 07:14 AM

                          Great shots! Makes me want to go back to Treadwell's. It's been a long while!

                          -----
                          Treadwell
                          61 Lakeport Road, St. Catharines, ON L2N 4P6, CA

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