On November 29, 2013, I experienced one of the most memorable days of my life. It was the Chartered Professional Accountants Uniform Evaluation (UFE) results day. The UFE was a three-day examination I wrote in early September, right before my vacation to Southeast Asia. It was a nerve-wrecking wait as my peers and I counted down to weeks before the results were released… then days… and before we know it – minutes before we were notified of the pass/fail. I can imagine that even 50 years from now, I will still vividly remember my heart thumping so wildly against my chest as I answered the phone call of my result. Though I don’t remember what exactly I said after I was told of the pass, I do remember it consisted of numerous “OH MY GOD” and “AHHHHHH”. This examination is definitely the most difficult step towards my goal of obtaining a Chartered Accountant designation. Boy oh boy, I am sure glad that I am finally done with it! Hallelujah.
Y decided that this calls for a fancy celebration dinner. Since moving into a bigger home in October, Y & I have been drastically cutting down on dining out expenses to balance the larger bills,. To ensure survival of this blog, we have become extremely picky with where/when/what we choose to eat when we dine out. To commemorate the exciting beginning of my career, Y took me out for dinner at the Cambridge Mill.
It was a very very snowy day. That did not seem to deter the crowd from Cambridge Mill as the parking lot was packed, and we had to park at one of the furthest spots available. While trudging through the thick snow, a golf cart stopped by and offered to drive us to the main entrance of the mill just to save us the 5 minute walk. A plastic cover was draped over the cart so it was nice and dry. We felt so pampered! 100% for first impression.
After the coat check, we were led to a beautiful dining hall.
There were quite a few other dining areas so ours was not quite as packed. There was several big groups celebrating birthdays so there was an enjoyable level of liveliness but not crazy Valentine’s Day sort of busyness.
We were arranged to seat at the most corner table. It had a wonderful view of the whole dining room plus of the Grand River. I can already imagine how gorgeous it will be in the summer!
Cambridge Mill is experiential dining at its best. The property’s historic charm, together with modern amenities creates the perfect ambiance, but it is the menu that defines the experience. An unwavering philosophy of “Earth to Table” cuisine – sourcing local, seasonal ingredients from nearby farms and food artisans – allows Cambridge Mill’s savoury and seasonally changing menus to highlight fresh, local ingredients.
On the Table for Maple:
- Rodney’s Selection of North Atlantic Oysters – 6 pcs ($16)
- Seared Digby Scallop ($15)
- Butcher’s Choice Cut Steak ($28)
- Roast Saddle of Lamb ($38)
- Pumpkin and Goat Cheese Risotto add-on ($8)
- Dark Chocolate Pate ($11)
- Double Espresso ($4.50)
- Coffee ($3)
- Glass of Pinot Noir ($16)
Total bill plus tax and tip was approximately $200.
Earth to Table is a philosophy that is at the heart of every Landmark Group property. We believe that to serve quality, every menu item must have ingredients grown responsibly and locally – which means our menus are always changing to reflect what’s in season.
Our server was wonderful. Her service was impeccable with timing and we never had to wait more than a few short minutes for the next course to arrive. Our bread bowl was served promptly.
I LOVE it when restaurants make their own bread (ie. Del Dente‘s awesome flower-pot bread) so I tend to ask the same question whenever Y & I head out for fancier meals. For higher price points, I always felt that it will be safe to assume the restaurant baked their own bread.
Maple: Does Cambridge Mill make the bread in-house?Natalie: Oh no, we got the bread from ACE Bakery.Maple: Oh… sounds familiar…Natalie: You can get them at Zehrs.Maple: Errr, okay.
Not a deal breaker, but definitely a little disappointed. Nonetheless, the rest of the meal was done to delicate perfection.
The lighting at Cambridge Mill was set to romantic mood (read: No good photos). Hence, the oysters and scallops looked horrible on my camera and I am too embarrassed to post them – whoops. The oysters were fresh and succulent – I enjoyed them more than those at King Crab Oyster Bar. We were disappointed that the scallop dish (with pear, pancetta, cannellini beans and almonds) only had a stingy serving of two scallops because they were absolutely delicious. Although a tad on the salty side, the scallops were juicy and well seared yet not over-cooked. Scallops start to taste like rubber when they are overcooked and the chef definitely showcased a strong sense of confidence with this dish.
I had no choice but to turn on the camera flash for the following photos. I dislike using flash because it results in harsh-looking photos. More importantly, I avoid using flash because it disrupts other people’s meals. Thankfully, due to the birthday celebrations going on in the same dining room, there were camera flashes going on throughout the night so I hope that I did not cause too much annoyance to the other diners.
Roast Saddle of Lamb, with lamb bacon, swiss chard, du puy lentils and pearl onions.
I would have liked the onions to be cooked a little more as it was still slightly raw and spicy. The lentils were a refreshing change from the usual starchy sides such as potatoes. The lamb itself was falling apart from tenderness but the bacon made it hard to cut. I enjoyed the level of seasoning on the lamb but Y found it a little too bland.
Butcher’s Choice Cut – Sous Vide Steak
This was the daily special. It was fabulous.
The process of vacuum-packing meat and cooking it in a precise temperature-controlled water bath has revolutionized the way fine-dining restaurants are run.
Y & I have never tried this method of cooking steak and were both blown away by the finished product. The meat was quickly seared before serving so the delicious charred layer was not lost. The steak itself was bursting with savoury juiciness and the ultimate ratio of fat versus lean meat. The side of beans and kale was also not lost in the limelight. It was cooked in a creamy sauce and with every bite, the cream sauce oozed out of the kale and was just a party in the mouth. I love lamb much more than beef but this one night, I wished that I had ordered the steak instead of the lamb. It was just that good.
The side of pumpkin and goat cheese risotto came in a huge bowl, more than what we had expected from a “side add-on”. It was creamy and rich from the pumpkin with a good balance of tart from the goat cheese. We enjoyed it but felt that it was a little out-of-place with the other entrees.
By the end of two appetizers, two mains and one add-on, we were both bursting out of our clothes. However, I could not resist the idea of dessert. I was definitely having a “Betsu Bara” moment.
Loosely translates to “extra stomach”. It is generally used to describe someone who always has room for dessert.
Dark Chocolate Pate, with peanut brittle and banana ice cream.
This dessert was dense and rich, just the way I like it. The bitterness from dark chocolate was married well with the sweetness of banana ice cream. I have not had banana ice cream in a restaurant but I usually make that at home by blending chunks of frozen bananas. It was a sweet sweet finish to a wonderful meal.
What a lovely celebratory meal. I cannot wait to be back in the summer!