Sunset Organic Bistro
Open everyday 11 a.m. to 9 p.m.
Executive Chef: Jesse Croy
Indoor Seating: 48 / Patio Seating: 80
Price Range: $$$ - $$$$
Chef's Table: $75 without wine $100 with wine
Great Views. Dress is Smart Casual. Reservations recommended
There once was a time when eating healthy was bland, boring and fairly tasteless. Not so anymore, especially if you visit the Sunset Organic Bistro and the Summerhill Pyramid Winery. Chef Jesse Croy has made a name for himself by using locally sourced, organic ingredients.
Aside from the regular dining experience at the bistro, there are two Chef's Table events on the last Thursday of April and May. This is one event that should not be missed. There is a maximum of 24 people for the Chef's Table and Chef Croy is there to prepare a feast for your senses.
"It really is a communal experience," explains Summer Hills's CEO, Ezra Cipes. "It's much nicer having everyone around the table. It's not just about the courses it's about the progression of the seven courses and the company you are with."
At the Chef's Table on March 31, Chef outdid himself in the delicious and oh-so-good for you department. The evening started out with a Cipes Brut, a Riesling based sparkling wine, which paired perfectly with the Sunchoke puree with gingersnap foam. The textures and flavours were enchantingly simple with a very earthy flavour.
Up next was a deceivingly simple dish of peas, rice and carrots. What was served was far from the peas, rice and carrots at your regular dinner table. Chef Croy created a Black Raven English pea risotto with a sous vide winter carrot puree topped with a prosciutto chip. Also included in the ingredients were chevre (goats cheese) and buttermilk. The peas were crispy and the puree and risotto were silky smooth for a symphony of scrumptious in your mouth. The slightly salty texture balanced perfectly with the sweetness of the Ehrenfelser served with this dish.
Our third dish was really two for one. The Haida Gwaii Halibut topped with Chanterelle mushroom calamari, which made a simple fish dish exotic. This was given just a touch more flavour with Meyer lemon butter. By far one of the three highlights of the night was what the Halibut was served with - a Cipollini onion ring stuffed with Okanagan nettles; yes I said nettles. This dish was had a mild sweetness and a deep earthiness that mixed perfectly together in the mouth. Healthy yes, delicious, definitely! This course was paired with an '08 Syrah, which was the perfect complement to the natural flavours of the nettle and onion. Who knew nettles could taste so good.
Dish four was served with an organic Pinot Gris. The Sloping Hills Porchetta was prepared with a vanilla rub and accompanied with baby banana fingerlings potato salad, kale, sprouted beans, sunnyside quails egg, and house made HP sauce. At first glance this is an unlikely pairing, until you taste it. The pork was served wrapped in fat that was squeezed dry, seasoned and baked until almost crispy.
I would be remiss if I didn't stop here for a moment and tell you about Chef's housemade HP sauce. Good does not describe it. Yes, it has that familiar flavour of HP sauce, but that's where the similarities end. There are so many layers of flavour in this sauce if would take an entire paragraph to describe, so I'll just recommend you have a taste when you visit.
The fifth course was not one I was looking forward to. You see, I don't like lamb, never have, and always thought I never would. Many a Chef has tried to convince me that lamb could taste good, but they all fell short of me wanting to have more than a wee taste.
Not so with the next dish - a Pressed Lamb Neck Date Square. I know - it even sounds horrid, but trust me - I could have eaten several more and not cared a bit about the rest of the courses to follow.
Chef Croy truly outdid himself with this dish. I know this is a long review but bear with me as I describe how he created it.
First he soaked a neck of lamb in red wine for six days. Then it was braised for 12 hours. After that Chef took the meat and mushed it up to drain out all the liquid. Then fat was reapplied into the drippings, pressed and placed on top of a base of date square puree. On top of this was sprinkled toasted buckwheat for a crunchy texture. Kumquats were added for a little palate cleansing between bites.
I must admit I wanted to ask for seconds, and after tasting this dish I elevated Chef Jesse Croy to the level of a minor god (small g no less). This dish was served with an '08 Cab Sav which paired nicely with the sweetness of the lamb and date.
Just when I thought Chef Croy had outdone himself, mostly by getting me to like lamb, he brought out the sixth dish. It looked like a simple mini grilled cheese sandwich but it tasted like a slice of heaven. Chef created this dish with Comox Brie, Poplar Grove Tiger Blue, Jerseyland organic Assiago and a thin slice of honeycomb in the middle. This crunchy mouthful of joy was served with Diva's Delight, a late harvest Ehrenfelser. This simple dish was so good the group decided it must go on the regular menu (I hope they put it on - I'll be there in a flash when they do!)
The evening was brought to a close with a Syrah Poached Flemish Pear, made with spiced Syrah syrup, quince mousse napoleon, brown butter, hazelnut soil, and a simple filo pastry, serviced up with a Zweigelt Ice Wine.
To say this meal was good or even great would not do it justice. A Chef's Table is an evening designed to introduce or reacquaint you with local foods, prepared in a way you have not experienced before. They achieved their goal in March, as I am sure they will do again in April and May.
The amazing crew for Chef's Table. L to R Presley Murphy - dishwasher,
Jesse Rivard - Executive Sous Chef, Jesse Croy - Executive Chef,
Shawn Hunt - Apprentice, Jared Melnyk - Apprentice
Chef Jesse Croy and his crew did an amazing job and I for one hope I get to come back again for another evening of gastronomical pleasures. Remember, only 24 seats, so book yours soon.