- justxpete Jul 16, 2012 06:56 PM
Expectations were that the food would be better than average and the service would make up for it. This wasn't the case at all. The first night we were there, there was a BBQ in the garden - Tawse, Stratus and Norman Hardie's winemakers were there as well. Had a quick chat with Paul, and moved on to dinner. The BBQ was good - not great.. but it was BBQ, so - how good might it be? The one thing I did notice, is that the most popular menu item by far was the fried chicken. They didn't have very much, but I got the last piece. It was tender, flavourful, well spiced, well-seasoned, and delicious. I asked when they might have some more, and the cook at the station said they would not have any for the rest of the evening. I thought this was odd since we'd booked an early reservation. A queue soon formed, and they relented and said that they'd make some more, but it would take at least 30 minutes. In any case - just an odd note on an otherwise nice time at the BBQ.
We had breakfast the following morning, which are the first four pictures in the series. There were no service issues on this morning. My SO had ordered the Egg w/ Biscuit, I had one bite, and thought it was one of the best breakfast dishes I'd ever had. Perfectly balanced, with the biscuits cutting the mushrooms and asparagus fricasee, while offering a contrasting texture that was absolutely heavenly. I had ordered the lobster and Bacon Nage, which was probably my least favourite dish of the weekend. Although the lobster was cooked to perfection, the Nage was over-seasoned, and the yolk from the perfectly cooked egg did not help neutralize the dish. It was ok, but I longed for my SO's Egg and biscuits. The only other thing I have to add here, is that unbelievably, Langdon Hall uses "pre-squeezed", "freshly-squeezed" orange juice, the same which is so common in Toronto. The moment they poured it, I could tell it wasn't "freshly squeezed", and had been pasteurized off-site. Whenever this happens at whatever restaurant, I ask where they get their OJ from. They always insist it's from a friend of the owner, which is odd in of itself. It tastes like it's from concentrate, and the texture is completely different. I don't know how restaurants get away with this, because it clearly isn't "freshly squeezed", but I'll save that rant for another day. We followed up breakfast with a round of golf, and then it was on to dinner.
This is when the service issues became overly apparent. Frequently, during our 7 course tasting menu, we were served our wines well before our next course. We would then wait 15 minutes or so for our next course, and we were often finished our wine prior to receiving our food. Oh, but the food was so delicious. Almost every course was amazing - from the amuse to dessert. Flavours popped, were on point, everything was perfectly seasoned and cooked; the gazpacho amuse was exceptional; the rib-eye steak (which was a substitution), had great flavours and was the perfect temperature. The one mis-step was that the duck egg dish had shell on the egg, which was odd, because the table beside us also found shell on their egg. Fortunately, I spotted it before consumption. In any case - back to the service - the service was cold, lacked passion and knowledge, and was akin to service that you might have at any given place in Toronto that tends to have that type of service. It was shocking, really, considering the price and reputation. You'd thing the FoH would be well practiced, but sadly, this was not the case. It was also relatively dis-organized as well. Don't get me wrong - they were extremely accommodating, and offered to correct their mistakes, but the mistakes shouldn't have happened in the first place. The red wine was also served at room temperature (which was rather hot), as opposed to cellar temperature - and to me, that's akin to drinking warm beer. Red wine should be served at the proper temperature, and this clearly was not practiced at Langdon Hall. They were very kind to us, offering additional wine courses and desserts but that was partly to make up for the poor service (of their own volition, not for complaints). I'd rather just great service in the first place, but I didn't mind eating and drinking extra courses of delicious food and beverage.
Other issues included the teen-age servers forgetting to order our breakfast the next morning for 45 minutes; Langdon Hall as a whole seemed to lack proper management, almost as if it was a great many teenagers running the place.
Disappointing, certainly, but I would definitely go back for the food.
Lastly - sorry for some of the pictures, as we were running out of light, and I despise the effect a flash has on food.