Aside from the wonderful educational experience of Tawse Winery and terroir, I was delighted to find out that we would be treated to lunch by the Chefs of The Only on King. The Only on King has been on my list of restaurants to try for quite some time now, ever since it was named to enRoute magazine's Top Ten New Restaurants in 2008.
During my years at university in London, I was always impressed with the culinary scene in town. Don't get me wrong, nothing can beat some Sammy's Souvlaki after a late night out, but I was delighted to find so many great restaurants in the downtown core who were doing great things with food.
Sadly, I left London before The Only on King opened and when I saw the article in enRoute, I knew I had to stop by the restaurant the next time I dropped by London. I did drop into town once since and tried to squeeze in a reservation, but alas (and not to my surprise), they were all booked. So to enjoy lunch made by the two chefs of the restaurant, I was certainly excited!
Jason Schubert and Paul Harding, the chefs and proprietors of The Only on King, specially came to Tawse that day to prepare us a gorgeous five-course fall lunch, featuring local, seasonal ingredients to be paired with Tawse wines. It's a great choice considering the theme of the day was terroir and learning more about the biodynamic practices of Tawse winery. The Only on King follows a farm-to-table philosophy in their restaurant.
The first course was a pumpkin soup with Thornloe blue cheese and a drizzle of pumpkin oil. When this dish was placed before me, I was instantly hit was an amazing scent. You get the sweet, caramelized scent of the pumpkin and the hit of the blue cheese. This is such a deliciously rich soup packed with a lot of flavour. I love the added touch of the blue cheese, as it rounds all the flavours really nicely. A really comforting dish on a chilly fall day. I could use a bowl of this anytime, served with some good, warm crusty bread to soak up every last drop.
The second course was The Only on King's famous autumn salad. Made from harvest vegetables from Stratford's Soiled Reputation (which I visited earlier this year), the beauty of this salad was in its simplicity: An assortment of perfectly roasted root vegetables (turnips, radish, beets, carrots and brussel sprouts) drizzled with some "really good Tuscan olive oil". While the vegetables truly shine here, what really made this dish for me was the Farben Farms lamb bacon. O. M. G. This was one of the best bacon I've ever had. The lamb adds such a unique depth of flavour, and adds just the right touch of saltiness to the salad.
Gnocchi, done well, is amazing. Light, pillowy forkfuls of carb goodness, tossed in a delicious sauce. Chefs Paul and Jason's Klondyke Farms potato gnocchi were so delicious. The gnocchi were perfectly light and fluffy and tossed in an unbelievable brown butter sauce. The charred leeks added a lovely sweetness to the dish, while the Monforte Dairy goat tomme was a really nice touch. Even after the last gnocchi was long gone from my plate, I couldn't stop dragging my fork across the plate to scoop up what little remained of the sauce as I waited for the next course. It was that good.
The fourth course was a gorgeous Alsatian-style chicken dish. The Alsace region is located on the eastern border of France, right beside Germany, so Alsatian cuisine is heavily influenced by Germanic culinary traditions, with sauerkraut being a signature dish of the region. What a great way for the Chefs to pair their house-made sauerkraut than with Field Gate Organics roast chicken and a gorgeous mustard sauce to bring the whole dish together.
It wouldn't be a full meal without some dessert, and the Chefs prepared a decadent chocolate and walnut torte for the final course. The sweetness of the walnuts really comes through the bittersweet chocolate. I'm only saddened I couldn't finish the whole slice because I was too stuffed from the whole meal.
Along with the lovely lunch, we enjoyed five different Tawse wines to accompany our meals: two Pinot Noirs, two Rieslings, and a special bottle of Ninety Nine One that Tawse owner Moray Tawse had pulled out from the cellar, made from 99% imported grapes from France and blended with 1% Ontario grapes (hence the name).
My compliments and thanks to Chefs Paul Harding and Jason Schubert for a fabulous lunch. It truly showcased the beauty of the local ingredients and was a perfect fall Sunday lunch. I'll definitely have to find my way to The Only on King one day soon.