Last night I was reminded yet again how wonderful this city is. Toronto, an urban patchwork of boroughs, each unique with their own fascinating history. I’ve lived here now over three years and realized there is still so much of this city I have yet to discover.
It was Wednesday January 30th shortly before 7pm when I found myself walking along Dupont, my first ever visit to The Junction. I had been invited as a guest by the team at Farmhouse Tavern to join them for their first Hunt Camp, an intimate and interactive 6 seat feast focussed on game meats and fish paired with some of the worlds best wines. This game centric pet project has given the Farmhouse culinary team a space to innovate and have fun while offering Toronto food fans the opportunity to partake in a unique feast. If you didn’t have the opportunity to book yourself a seat for this exclusive (and sold out) 13 week series you can vicariously live through me…
This would be my first visit to Farmhouse Tavern, a restaurant which has been buzzed about across town for its funky decor, enthusiastic menus, bright summer patio and stellar brunch. The restaurant is typically closed on Monday’s so the space was rather vacant with the exception of a beam of light that shot out from the kitchen. The restaurants owner, Darcy motioned me past the bar and into a small private dinning room set for six. A large moose head hung from the wall and wee table featured red wines breathing in their decanters. Moments later the room filled with five other guests that I would spend the next few hours bonding with over an unforgettable, epic feast.
Darcy welcomed us with a glass of sparkling and let us know that we were his little guinea pigs, a soft opening so to speak. I sat beside a member of team View the Vibe while four of the restaurants biggest fans filled the the other antique chairs. Throughout the evening Darcy would stand by the head of the table to introduce each wine pairing, just a few minutes before the chef arrived carrying a new mystery platter which regularly forced us all to ooh and ahh.
I’ve always been an advocate for communal dining. It’s great fun to share dishes family style at the table with strangers. It creates a string of memorable moments and new found friendships often develop as we bond over the bounty under our noses. Hunt Camp provides a fun space for strangers with a penchant for culinary adventure to loosen their belt and pull up their sleeves.
Hunt Camp’s five course procession started with an impressive Huntsman’s Platter which beautifully showcased the potential of the noble rabbit, trout, venison and pheasant. Next up a duo of trout which included a wee bite of caviar on balini followed by a whole smoked and grilled fish which was gently separated at the table and topped onto a chowder of trout fume. Courses three and four transitioned from the lake to the woods. Pheasant paired with foie gras offered a perfect crisp while a venison long bone rack served alongside a steaming board of root vegetables forced a smile onto our smug mugs. As if we hadn’t gorged ourselves silly, the final course featured four fromage paired with wine jelly and crostini.
Bravo to the Farmhouse team for launching the Hunt Camp project. I arrived to The Junction as a newbie but left feeling as though I had joined a new west end tribe. I’m thrilled to see what Darcy and his kitchen come up with next. I was so impressed with my experience at Farmhouse Tavern it now sits on my Toronto’s Top Restaurant List.
The Hunters Feast:
1st Course paired with Tarlant Rose Champagne
confit rabbit rillete, rabbit liver mousse with dried ontario cherry, house made georgian bay trout gravlox, trout liver mousse, venison terrine, pheasant terrine, kosliks triple threat mustard, deep fried wild caught lake erie smelts, pickled ontario veg, whole roasted head on rabbit roulade
2nd Course paired with 2011 Brovia Roero Arneis
Hunt Camp Caviar
whole wheat balini, chilled hewitts butter
Whole Smoke House Grilled Trout
deboned and restuffed with thyme garlic lemon, sewed up and cooked on open flame served with roast fennel, raw fennel salad, chowder of trout fume, black and breakfast radish, thickened with a fennel nage
3rd course paired with 2010 Elk Cove Pinot Noir
breast and confit leg, brown butter swiss chard puree, braised lentils with ontario saffron and horseradish, pheasant pan jus & seared quebec foie.
4th course paired with Black Hills Syrah
Venison Long Bone Rack
whole confit and roasted baby turnips, baby carrots, menonite garlic, ash-baked pomme puree, venison jus spiked with juniper
5th course paired with 2006 ‘Onkaparinga’ Grenache
deer hunter, a firm cow’s milk cheese from holland, a semi-soft cow’s milk cheese from le mont jacob in quebec, a creamy blue from wisconsin, and st-marcellin a delectably soft & runny goat’s milk cheese from france.