A couple weekends ago, The Boy and I visited the hometown for the birthday of Linlin, who had recently joined the ranks of the
thirty 27 year olds. Along with a (gorgeous!) photobook masterminded by her friend Therese — with contributions from family, friends and moms of friends! — we also had (surprise! at least for the birthday girl) dinner at a fancy-pants downtown restaurant touting locally-sourced foodstuffs, and an intriguing menu.
While waiting for our table to be ready, I took the opportunity to take some pictures of the decor. The restaurant was quite small but decorated with lots of detail. The Boy in particular liked the crazy squiggly-line light bulbs over one of the tables in the back.
When I asked our waitress if the jars of preserved veggies were just for decoration or if they were actually used, she informed me that they were, indeed used, not only in the restaurant, but also next door at Ruby Eats, their sister cafe.
In order to make things a little easier on both us and the restaurant, Therese had organized for our group to have a fixed menu for dinner. Suggested wine pairings were listed, and while I enjoyed the red I had with the steak, I wish I’d opted for the port with dessert instead! Our menu was…
Ruby’s Chopped Chef Salad
Sleger’s living greens, pickled beets, A.F.G.’s cucumbers, garden radishes,
hen’s egg, chèvre noir, lemon black pepper aioli
Grilled Flank Steak with Bone Marrow Jus
Apple cider glazed white turnips, warm fingerling potato salad with onion & dill
dressing, roasted heirloom carrots & black kale with bacon & walnuts
Cendrillon by Alexis de Portneuf
Watercress & hazelnut salad
Spiced Cake with Maple Buttercream
Vanilla scented pears
I loved that they served everything (except dessert) family-style, in reasonably-sized serving platters. It made for a much more amicable atmosphere with friendly chatter, even though many of us hadn’t met previously.
The cendrillon — a flavourful goat cheese packed in ashes — was a wonderful surprise, but I have to say that I think my favourite course was the opening salad. The beets were warm, taking the vinegary edge off, and the whole salad was just really nicely balanced. The steak was also very good (although my favourite part there was unsurprisingly the potatoes).
Late in the meal, some of the girls at the table were whispering and pointing; apparently the restaurant’s owner had arrived. It turned out that our hostess for the evening was Lynn Crawford, a Food Network chef whose “thing” is chasing down food at its source! Lynn chatted a bit to Linlin about her birthday dinner and generally seemed like a nice enough lady. I’m a little sorry I didn’t pick up a copy of her book Pitchin’ In while we were there, but I have a hold on it at the library!
All in all, the night was a success — awesome planning Therese! — and we hope that Linlin felt loved and celebrated, after her initial post-tubing shock. Happy Birthday Linlin! We’re glad we could help you kick off this decade with a party… and we hope the coming years feel like one too!