Wednesday, 24 August 2011

St. Tropez Bistro

We went out with my parent’s to St. Tropez to have a nice meal and chat. It was wonderful. The food was delicious, the service was great, the owner my kind of crazy, décor was cool, and the over all food philosophy is laudable. They take the local, fresh, and sustainable foodie ideal to great heights, pun intended. There is a rooftop garden right overhead that one of the co-owners tends. How can you get anything fresher than eatables hand picked from am attached garden that very day? Now, for particulars:


 We ate and drank so gloriously much! We had the house red (Pellar Estates Shiraz) and blush (Pellar Estates White Zinfandel) and both were surprisingly good for what one would expect from a house wine. We ordered four appetizers, four mains, and two desserts. Yes, appetizers here are small and delicate delicious morsels to start you meal and not baskets of deep-fried meat-parts in quantities sufficient to feed three. They are small so do not expect large portion sizes. For starters we shared: the cheese platter, spinach balls, chipotle shrimp, and a special that day. Because the tomatoes had ripened up, there was a tomato and bocconcini salad. Bocconcini is, for those less stricken with cheeseophilia, a soft round fresh cheese that tastes like a really yummy mozzarella. (Today’s strange cheese fact of the day: they were traditionally made of water buffalo milk!) The salad was super fresh, beautiful to look at, perfectly seasoned, balanced and flavoured. The sauce served with the shrimp was delicious! (I am going to try and mimic it and put it on many, many meats.) I could be petty and malicious and mention that the shrimp were a little too firm and could have been bigger, but as things where otherwise so perfect I won’t stoop to such petty quibbles. The cheese plate had two-year-old cheddar, manchego, and blue.  Accompanied with bread, olives, and a pickle. The cheeses were as varied as one would want in a cheese tasting platter… and I love manchego. The spinach balls where the biggest disappointment of the night, the only truly negative thing of the evening. The sweet hot mustard and dill sauce was fine but the spinach balls themselves were very bland, totally under seasoned.

For our main courses we had the basil pesto salmon special, almond chicken with tarragon béarnaise sauce and the filet mignon (times two). Dad’s basil pesto salmon was perfectly cooked and succulent. The pesto was made with basil picked fresh from the garden upstairs. My wife and mother ordered the same thing, the filet. My wife ordered it correctly, medium rare, and my mom ordered it (cringe) medium well. They were cooked exactly to temperature. My wife added the red wine mushrooms, potently flavourful with no doubt about the presence of red wine. I had the, to my surprise, chicken. Chicken is the too often the lame safe thing ordered by the unadventurous. However, I am a sucker for tarragon. The almond chicken was moist and superb. Another shocker was that my favourite thing from the mains was my starch, mashed potatoes! Potatoes are supposed to be filler on the side that taste all right but are really just meat’s sidekick; the Robin to its Batman.  The caramelized onion mashed potatoes were epic! They are something I will have to mimic at home (the second thing I am going to try and repeat form this stunning evening.) As a final note on the main courses: there was a bean salad. I know, sounds boring, but it was scrumptious and I am not even a bean fan. 
Before I move on to dessert I need to say a word or two about, of all things, garnish. I am morally opposed to inedible garnish. We were given something else. An eatable flower accompanied many appetizers and all entrees. Nasturtium (naw-stir-shum) starts off sweet and ends with the kick of a radish and should be eaten by everyone. Apparently it grows well here. Next summer I know what is going into pots around my house, flowers I will eat! They are absolutely delectable.

Dessert. Loved it too.  Triple Chocolate Mousse Pie and Cream Caramel is what we ordered. The Cream Caramel was a panna cotta like dessert covered in a great caramel sauce. The Chocolate Mousse Pie had a tart berry coulee, super rich chocolate brownie/mousse, and was not too sweet. Wonderful. We also ordered ninja coffees. For those unfamiliar with the term ninja coffee it is a coffee that you drink and tastes amazing. It is only later, when standing up, does the alcoholic perform its sneak attack strike.

As I wrap up this review I do need to heap some more praise on the place. I have mentioned the garden, but cannot underline or stress enough how cool it is to have a rooftop city garden supplying a restaurant. I love the local food idea, not because I am a filthy hippie (despite accusations to the contrary) but because fresh tastes better. Our server was supremely knowledgeable and we soon found out why. Our server, who also does some cooking and tends the garden, was a co-owner.  He clearly loves what he is doing, loves food, and loves to tend the garden that supplied the amazing cornucopia of fresh produce and herbs. As our conversations continued we found out that the paintings on the walls, some in the style of Pollock and some in the style of the artist himself, were also by him. A hobby. Well, as soon as this was discovered my artist mom started gabbing even more, the conversation turned towards, as all art conversations should eventually, Van Gough. Turns out that in the other room he has a massive Starry Night painting. So, mom talked about her European trips that gave her the opportunity to see Van Gough's paintings in person, and visit Van Gough’s insane asylum. We talked and talked about: art and food and gardens. Perhaps, I am a bit enamoured by the similarity of taste between our fanatic friend and myself and therefore am being a bit light on St. Tropaz in my review. But, the food is really genuinely excellent and the atmosphere is delightful. Check out the cool wrought iron bathroom fixtures, the lights, especially the chandelier in the other room with the Starry Night painting, the tribal masks around the spiral staircase, the paintings, and obviously the food.

See what others have had to say at Urbanspoon: 

St. Tropez Bistro on Urbanspoon

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