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Acadia -- who else has been?

The only thread on Acadia was more about pre-opening discussion, with one review:

http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/769377

Has anyone else been there? I'm going next week and would love to hear about experiences with the various dishes.

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  1. Went over the weekend for a friend's birthday and really enjoyed it.

    Opened with cocktails. Friend: Punch of the day (liked it but friend thought it was served in too small of a glass, even though that is the kind of glass my Mom drinks her before Dinner sherry from, so I thought it was okay). Me: Can't remember the name but the one with tequila, absinthe & ginger beer (I'm on a ginger beer kick this Summer so really loved this drink).

    Amuse bouche: roasted soy nuts, pickled okra, green beans, fingerling potatoes, fennel and cucumber - nice start.

    Appetizers: Friend: Chesapeake Bay Crab - so good, great balance of ingredients on the plate that worked together well. Me: Shrimp & Grits - this is really quite delicious and my favourite dish of the night. The ham hock adds a great flavour but the dish is not overly salty, as sometimes can happen. The shrimp was perfectly cooked & quite big.

    Mains: Friend: Pork Ribs - braised and soft. I liked the 2 ribs my friend let me have! ;) Me: Rainbow Trout - Again perfectly cooked and comes as a poached long roll.

    Sides: Cornbread with Sweet Potato Butter. Great cornbread, comes to the table nice & warm and the butter is a delicious accompaniment. Boudin Balls with Red Pepper Honey - yum! I ate these myself because friend is not into boudin. Light in texture and not overly fried/heavy. We also had a bottle of the Italian red wine.

    Desserts: Friend: Sugar Pie - I found this very sweet (yes, I know, *sugar* pie, but I tend to like my baked goods/desserts not too sweet). Me: 75% Chocolate Bar: Enjoyed this because hey, 70%+ chocolate! We also had a glass of brandy each.

    Service was informative, helpful & attentive. I will go back.

    8 Replies
    1. re: always_eating

      Great review, thank you! You tried most of the items that I'm eyeing on the menu. Can you please tell me more about the crab app? How is the crab served? I can't tell from the menu description whether it's part of mixture, served in the shell, just the meat, etc.

      The shrimp and grits sound fantastic, and it's good to know the ribs are braised rather than smoked.

      1. re: TorontoJo

        i felt there was something strange about this place. Something funny about the menu, how it is laid out and the pricing. For instance, my husband had a fish dish, listed and priced as a main, that was by no means a main. some of the plates are quite small and seem they need accompaniments in order to comprise a main, but the menu doesn't 'say' that (directly or indirectly through layout etc...)
        For us, there was a disconnect between the sparse room and the style of food. I can't quite put my finger on it. I'd be interested to see if anyone shares my thoughts or can articulate them more clearly?

        1. re: nummanumma

          We went last Saturday. The food was impeccable - truly original and tasty. (With the exceptions of the dessert - honestly only 2 to choose from and neither outstanding). However, the room was totally lacking - generic home depot tile floor, ugly tables bereft of candles, badly hung art, no sound dampening, bad lighting and zero personality. To tell you the truth, it almost ruined the experience for me. The room wasn't spare enough to be considered minimal. It was just undecorated.
          Had similar feeling about my experience at Keriwa - great food - ugly room.

          1. re: marionclaire

            I fully agree with you marionclaire. This restaurant is undoubtedly one of Toronto's top 3 openings in 2011 (maybe even #1), but the decor has got to be one of the worst. Clearly they had a very limited budget, but there are many things you can do to make the room feel warmer and more intimate. Go for some damask wallpaper, expose the brick or even use faux brick if you absolutely must, but don't make it look like some crappy home reno job. Put in a screen or dividing wall to make the larger room more intimate. It currently looks like a dank cafeteria.

            If possible, Acadia should borrow from its future success (and revenues) and invest in the space. This could be one of Toronto's top dining destinations in short order. Well, I have some concerns about the inexperienced and caught-in-the-headlights look of some of the serving staff, but that's for another post.

            Keriwa clearly spent more money but the lights are way too bright, the room is far too open, and the decor is eclectic to put it mildly.

            La Palette's old location in Kensington was dumpy but quaintly charming and they most certainly had a super limited renovation budget.

        2. re: TorontoJo

          Hey TorontoJo, here's a link to a picture of the Crab Appetizer my friend ate (and I had some tastings of).

          http://chefs-talk.com/show/chesapeake...

          It's from Chef Matt Blondin's page on chefs-talk.com. It tasted best when you tried to get a little bit of everything on your fork (and in your mouth). Hope you enjoy when you go!

          1. re: always_eating

            Thanks! I must say that is a beautiful dish, but wow, it sure looks...small. :)

            1. re: TorontoJo

              I guess it does! But somehow, we were both pleasantly full after our meals...I think it's because I had the heavier Appetizer & lighter Main, while she had the lighter Appetizer & heaver Main. Oh, plus the Sides & Desserts. I don't know, the sizing didn't bother me however I am interested to hear others' thoughts.

              1. re: always_eating

                That's good to hear. I actually appreciate reasonable portions and am usually grateful when I'm not served whopping huge dishes so that I feel like a stuffed turkey leaving the restaurant (because willpower and I are not fast friends). I'm going on Friday and will definitely report back.

      2. I went on Friday night with 5 friends. Since the menu consists of 5 apps/5 mains/3 sides and 2 desserts, we just ordered the entire menu with 3 duplicates and we shared everything.

        I won't describe every dish, but in general, everything ranged from good to really good. I found all of the dishes had really interesting flavours and beautiful (or at least interesting) presentation. My personal favourites:

        - dirty rice balls: amazing flavour from the andouille sausage, nicely fried. The red pepper sauce it was serve with was superfluous for me, as I didn't want to mask the flavour of the rice.

        - shrimp and grits: loved the buttery-ness of the grits and the firm fresh shimp. The ham hock broth added a great flavour and textural element, as it made the grits even creamier when you stirred it together. My only beef was the lumps in the grits. I had one lump that was so large that I thought it was a shrimp. It was disappointing (to say the least) to bite into it and discover that it was a pasty lump of grits (can you tell i hate lumps in my hot cereals?). Regardless, the dish was delicious and I would order it again.

        - red grouper: a small, but thick fillet served over more of that delicious andouille sausage and topped with prawn etoufee. The fish was moist and tender and I loved the combination of flavours for me.

        - pork ribs: tender, saucy, braised ribs served over a sorghum (a nice chewy grain) salad. Ribs were tender and the sauce was tasty.

        Other favourites at the table: the milk fed veal and the rainbow trout. The tomato tartelette was really yum, too.

        The dessert were the weakest part of the menu, and next time I would skip dessert and order more savoury items instead.

        Service was very good and friendly -- they have the same model as Origin: whoever is near the kitchen when your dish is ready brings it out. So even though we had an "official" server (who we recognized from Origin), we probably had 4 or 5 different people bringing us dishes and drinks and filling our water. I appreciate this model, as it means the food comes out hot and you never have the issue of trying to flag down your waiter for something. I thought the service was surprisingly smooth for the restaurant having only been open for a few weeks.

        My one complaint: so damn loud. Once again, this is another restaurant that has chosen to decorate with zero sound-absorbing materials. I had a very difficult time hearing the person 2 seats away from me. So frustrating.

        The patio won't open until next year, but it's a great spot on Clinton, just across from the big patio at Cafe Diplomatico.

        So bottom line: I really enjoyed my dinner and look forward to going back and ordering my favourite dishes from the evening to have all to myself. :)

        2 Replies
        1. re: TorontoJo

          Oh and a shout out to the cocktail list and the bartender! Interesting variety and nice quality.

          1. re: TorontoJo

            Your review made me realize that yes, the way the service is set up, everything was piping hot when it came to our table. I hate it when food is just warm at a restaurant, and you know it's been sitting there for a bit. Next time I go back I plan on drinking a lot of cocktails & eating only savoury items too!

        2. Went tonight for the first time, based on reviews - really enjoyed it.

          Very friendly service (Server Lauren). Lovely, casual and very elegant room with lots of natural light. Good crowd, but not over-run despite excellent reviews. Nice relaxed but professional staff.

          Didn't love the free pickle plate, but that's probably just a matter of taste - vegetables were firm and not too vinegary. Nicely executed but not thrilling.

          The Sazerac cocktail is a thing of beauty.

          The dirty rice balls were nicely spicy.

          Crab with cucumber foam was gorgeous - very subtle flavors, but nicely exected, with more acidity than one might expect to look at it. Crab was pristine.

          Boudin-stuffed quail was gorgeous - what's not to like about a crispy little bird stuffed with sausage?

          Scallops were beautifully executed - I hoped chicken crackling would be chicken skin, and it was not, but still nice.

          Crab and scallops were subtle, with no room for error - nicely seasoned, and really enjoyable.

          Shrimp and grits were decadent and delicious. I could live on this dish, but I suspect I wouldn't live long.

          Mrs. Champ and I shared the above starters, plus corn bread with sweet potato butter (not to be missed) and collard greens with pancetta, and we felt nicely fed. Plates are not large, but the prices are reasonable and the quality of ingredients is impeccable - this is how we prefer to eat (rather than gigantic plates of food).

          Recommended.

          1. Highly, highly recommended. Had an amazing meal here, the quality of the food was as good as it gets in the city. I could see how big eaters might be bummed with portion sizes but for me, it was perfect.

            I'd like to see the drink prices come down a touch, not sure how a mint julep is $15 when you're pouring Maker's Mark. And our server was a bit odd and intense. But the food (and we pretty much ate the whole menu) was sublime. Go before this place blows up.

            3 Replies
            1. re: childofthestorm

              Everything on the menu sounds amazing. I'm going to try to make it there this weekend.

              1. re: childofthestorm

                funny childofthestorm, i think we had the same server last saturday night...he was a little odd but enthusiastic and effient....
                i hate to recommend this place for completely selfish reasons- would love to keep it a hidden gem but clearly the well deserved hype that it's already receiving will undoubtably make resevations hard to come by.

                had an amazing meal here...given the quality of the food and the thoughtful presentation, i think it's priced extremely well (esp. given my recent underwhelming, very expensive meal at splendido :(...sorry splendido fans).... i LOVED this place....can't wait till my next meal here!

                1. re: todc1996

                  Yeah, the server did a perfectly fine job, just had a bit of a thousand-yard stare going on. A tad off.

              2. Went last night. Quail cooked to perfection. Scallops lovely flavours, crispy chicken skin amazing but the beautiful plating and presentation was lost b/c of the colour of the plate.

                Pork ribs, sweet, tender, soft and lovely. Grouper, meaty, smoky, with a hint of what came across to me as baked beans.

                Collard greens and cornbread with sweet potato butter some of the best sides I've had in a very long time.

                Great addition to the Toronto dining scene.