As the seasons change from sun-kissed summer to cool and cozy autumn, there’s a distinct shift in the air — a transformation that beckons a new culinary adventure. Inviting in the warm flavours of fall, the Taste Canoe menu that graced our palates with light, bright summer dishes now makes way for a symphony of autumnal delights, anchored in seasonality, time, and place.
Meticulously crafted at the hands of Executive Chef Ron McKinlay and his team, the onset of colder weather guides the changing tapestry of nature’s ingredients. Spotlighting stone fruits, root vegetables, heavier sauces, and braised meats, Canada’s fall harvest delivers soul-warming offerings that pay homage to our country’s hardworking farmers, fishers, and suppliers via eight intricate courses.
In an expression of passion and pride, with some elements taking days or even weeks to prepare, Canadian ingredients are the star, and only the best of the best make the plate. From the exceptional harvest of our friend Rawad at Country Boys Produce to the top cuts we source from long-time partners Ontario Harvest, every dish is carefully considered and undeniably in season.
Warm, comforting, and bursting with nostalgia, join us as we explore how our latest tasting menu has evolved to celebrate the flavours of fall. Prepare to savour every bite.
Nodding to Executive Chef Ron McKinlay’s signature crispy fried oyster, a new take on the mollusk opens the menu with truffle. Smoked oyster is used in place of egg in an oyster mayonnaise, bringing together a cured venison tartare seasoned with pickled apple and smoky charcoal oil. Made from venison hip, courtesy of Ontario Harvest, the tartare sits on a bed of truffle custard nestled in the oyster’s shell. It’s topped with pickled apple and rendered beef fat powder that changes consistency once it hits the palate, unctuously coating the mouth. Paired with crunchy nori grissini dipped in foie gras parfait and wrapped in a duck breast prosciutto, which is cured in-house for weeks, this delightful duo awakens the taste buds in anticipation of what’s to follow.
Delivering nostalgic fall flavours in a pint-sized pumpkin, Chef McKinlay’s second course taps into the warm spices of pumpkin pie, a common Canadian craving this time of year. The folks at Boots Farm — a family-run operation in Scotland, Ontario — harvest hundreds of pumpkins picked specifically for our guests, which are then filled with a beautifully balanced sweet potato custard. A pickled pumpkin gel made from juiced pumpkins is drizzled on top, providing acidity to cut through the fattiness. Using almonds, brown sugar, and star anise, a housemade, more refined version of licorice adds another complementary layer. On top, a butternut squash velouté finished with brown butter, sage, garlic, and thyme completes the dish, a last step before guests pop the top to a welcome burst of autumnal bliss.
The humble chicken wing next takes the stage, elevated to new heights with care, attention, and extraordinary technique. A variety of fresh and preserved lobster, chanterelle, and morel mushrooms are ground down and folded together with lap cheong sausage and chicken mousseline to form the wing’s stuffing. Sliced medallions are pan-roasted to golden brown perfection and sandwiched between crispy chicken skin before being placed atop a sunchoke purée.
Topped with pickled Madeira onions, a purée of sultana raisins, and a Madeira jus that is split with Périgord truffles and brown butter, a rich, velvety Albufera sauce is reduced, frothed, and spooned overtop. Finally, ziti pasta is cut into a trio of long, macaroni-like noodles and tossed in a syrupy glaze of juiced Jerusalem artichokes, stock, and butter. Garnishes include crispy burdock root, crispy Jerusalem artichokes, and roasted Brussels sprout leaves.
Using trimmings from the smoked sablefish that graced our summer menu, sustainability reigns supreme as skins are transformed into a tasty charcoal oil that ties together Chef McKinlay’s fish course. After weeks of fine tuning, B.C. lingcod was chosen as the ideal white, flaky, and dense fish for the three-day preparation. Topping the fish is a farce of scallops speckled with nori and East Coast scallop roe, which is then rolled into a boudin, poached, and rested to release just the right amount of moisture.
Carved and roasted to order in a hot pan with foamy butter, the stunning slices sit atop a base of sautéed celeriac finished with julienned nori, as well as bonito, shallots, and chives. A Champagne sauce uses O&B brut and the aforementioned smoked sablefish and charcoal oil to create a drizzle that shines black. Beautiful in presentation, this intricately assembled dish is no simple feat to recreate night after night, acting as a true testament to the care, thoughtfulness, and lead time required of each plate that leaves the kitchen.
While our dining room may be sky high, low and slow is the name of the game for the fifth course, whose prep begins a week out: the 54-hour short rib — a mouthwatering representation of “one hour for every floor”. Although braised, the short rib slices retain a pink colour when piled next to Chef McKinlay’s take on chou farci (or stuffed cabbage), hiding pastrami-spiced beef cheek with brown butter mashed potatoes and caramelized onions under a tightly rolled blanket of barbequed romaine lettuce. Joining a caramelized mushroom purée, a hand-foraged skewer holds a sweetbread and two deep fried maitake mushrooms, basted in a classic French compound butter known as Café de Paris butter. Finally, the dish is finished with a beef jus split with foie gras fat, showcasing classic techniques reinvented for the modern diner.
Transitioning guests to to dessert, Executive Pastry Chef Raffaele Stea presents a stunning course starring the magnificent mushroom. Saskatoon chanterelles are pickled in his own pine cone vinegar and syrup, delivering chewiness, acidity, sweetness, and umami. Seabuckthorn gel adds fruitiness, freshness, and even more acidity that helps to cleanse the palate, while a milk and molasses crumble mimics the forest floor, giving even more depth to the dish. Finally, chanterelle ice cream delivers a surprisingly fudgy and toffee-like bite, swirled with a pine cone reduction on top. Incredibly unique and somewhat unconventional, its aromas of birch, vanilla, and dark caramel are subtle yet tantalizing — an all-Canadian tribute bridging savoury and sweet.
More warm spices evoke the sentiment of changing leaves in the grand finale dessert, featuring poached Bartlett pear. Cooked in sortilège whisky (a nod to Chef Stea’s Québécois roots), sumac, and all sorts of autumnal spices, delicate pear slices are carefully placed amidst whipped ganache, crémeux, and shards of crunchy Ontario hazelnut chip. Pearls of pear sorbet dot the plate, offering a punchy surprise, while a whisky and sumac gel further complements the harmonious work of art. Exquisitely designed to warm diners before the chill of a fall evening greets them again, Chef Stea’s play of flavours and textures is the perfect conclusion to an evening spent exploring the incredible treasures that grow right here at home.
As always, closing out the Taste Canoe experience is a trio of petit fours. Expect to savour sweet treats like Chef Stea’s housemade mint Oreo, a tiny version of lemon meringue, a delicate financier, or our signature chocolate miso truffles.
We invite you to sample the riches of our nation’s fall harvest as we celebrate Canada’s deliciously diverse bounty. Join us in the dining room or reserve a seat at our chef’s rail for an up-close-and-personal look at what it takes to craft each plate.
Book online today to make your reservation for Taste Canoe, available now through the fall season.
Please note, ingredients are subject to change based on seasonal availability.