Janet Lynn’s Bistro

Godmother S turned 89 years young this year. She is the first woman to ever work in a post office within the KW region. Her younger days on a farm with little processed food and a career that keeps her on her feet, combined with a heart of gold, Godmother has always enjoyed good health. Unfortunately in December 2013 through to the new year, she spent most of the winter at Grand River Hospital battling illness. Thankfully her recovery, although slow, was steady.

Hence, I wanted to make her birthday meal this year extra special.

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Janet Lynn’s Bistro has been a fixture in Waterloo Region since 1985 serving signature dishes and innovative bistro fare. In the fall of 2012 we re-invented Janet Lynn’s Bistro with a contemporary new restaurant in Belmont Village and a new name: JLB.

My first experience at JLB was not a dining nor a comfortable one. I was a first year at UW and we had a recruiting Meet-and-Greet at the restaurant. I still remember the uneasy stomach churning sensation that forced me to stay away from the delicious looking hors d’oeuvre served as I nervously approached my then potential employer.

Fast forward to my second experience at JLB, it was a very cold winter night in December. Y and I had just finished our Wonders of Winter walk at the Waterloo Park . We were cold and hungry, so I suggested – why not head to JLB for dinner? Mind you – I was in second year we were dressed casually (think second year university dress-code) and we felt immediately out-of-place as we stepped into JLB and our server offered to take our coats. At that point, we realized that we probably were not yet ready to cough up more than $20 for our meals and fled the scene. Yes, call it embarrassing.

Since then, I have been wanting to return to JLB and just been waiting for the right moment.

Welcome to JLB. Welcome to updated classics, modern flavours, exposed brick, polished stainless steel, black aprons and Converse sneakers. Here, it’s all about food, wine and your experience. Jeans and t-shirt or three-piece suit, come and enjoy.

First Impression:

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The first impression was exactly how they described it – classy, beautiful and relaxing. It had a little spa-like/zen atmosphere.

On the Table for Maple:

  1. Smoked Pork Belly ($14)
  2. Liver – Special ($27.95)
  3. Roast Duck Breast ($32)
  4. Hand-made Ink Pasta ($24)
  5. Daily Cheese Cake ($8)

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I think the bread basket sets the tone of a meal. Seriously, what’s with this “say-no-to-the-bread-basket” thing!?

Unfortunately, the bread was slightly disappointing. They were not toasty hot, resulting in a little stale chewy texture. Fortunately, this was the only disappointing dish.

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Smoked Pork Belly with seared scallop, serrano ham & pineapple sauerkraut, pineapple gastrique

This appetizer was literally sugar, spice and everything nice packed into one dynamic bite. Although the pork belly and scallops were both tender and juicy, the textures were contrasting as the pork belly was fatty while the scallop was lean and bouncy. The ham provided a good salt level and the pineapple gave it the sweet balance. Sweet & salty combinations are just effortlessly delicious. Have you ever tried sprinkling sea salt on your ice-cream?

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Godmother decided to go with the daily special of liver. As her appetite had shrunk quite a bit over the years, the portion was way too big for her. Liver tastes like rubber if overcooked, and tastes bleah if not marinated well. JLB did a perfect job at avoiding both common pitfalls, nicely done! I’d like to eat liver more often but mine always taste like bleah rubber, so I avoid cooking it.

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Roast Duck Breast with confit leg, beluga lentil and Herrle’s corn

If you think JLB is one of those “fine-dining” places with petite portions, you are wrong. I enjoyed the beautiful vegetables served with each dish – restaurants often focus so much on the protein that they neglect the balance of a dish. This dish was rich and meaty, with a nice side of greens. The duck was flavorful and tender, nothing to nitpick about.

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Hand-made Ink Pasta with shrimp, salmon, scallion, olive oil and garlic chips.

Y and I eyed for this dish right from the start. Though it took a little arm wrestling, we compromised and decided to share it – we usually do not order same dishes to allow for more variety at the table. JLB kindly split it into two dishes for us. Though the portion looked small given the huge plate it was served in, the halved serving was more than enough for me. I would not have been able to finish the full one on my own. The pasta was a little more al dente than usual but that is how I like my pasta. I cleaned off my plate and surprised Y as I am not usually a pasta person. We agreed that between the duck and the pasta, the pasta won. The seafood was fresh and the pasta was beautifully crafted.

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JLB surprised Godmother S with the daily cheesecake – Banana cheesecake! It was like banana bread with a hint of cheesiness. The velvety cheesecake was not overly sweet, which is much appreciated.

JLB is about a third of Godmother S’s age. Though they moved from the original location on King Street in Uptown Waterloo and tweaked their restaurant concept, the food is absolutely fabulous and I could not have picked a better place to celebrate Godmother’s birthday.

Janet Lynn's Bistro on Urbanspoon

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