A meal at The North unfolds with subtle perfection. Moving the restaurant around the corner, from Dunlop to Mary Street, provided the opportunity to expand physical space, enhancing patrons dining experience with the inclusion of a wine bar and private upstairs dining room.
I truly enjoyed my interview with Chef Ormonde and was thrilled to discover his approach to cooking is in synch with my approach to eating. Keep it fresh, seasonal, deliver it at the peak of both flavor and nutrition, use organic when possible, and then create flexible menus which showcase the ingredients, mix with talented culinary skills, impress us. This is a lifestyle approach to eating, one that serves our palate and our body.
Marco shared a story about the woman who picks local mushrooms for him; the “chicken of the woods” was fresh that day with a puffball to follow, so the daily specials would be created around the local bounty brought to him at the peak of freshness. His menu changes monthly, the daily specials reflect the availability of prime ingredients.
Dining at The North is not to be rushed. Many discover this restaurant during Barrielicious, Chef Ormonde doesn’t skimp on quality or service during this twice yearly event. Philosophically he believes that Barrielicious allows him to showcase his talents with the prix fix menu, which inevitably entices the diners to return for special events through the rest of the year; birthdays, anniversaries, occasions worthy of a fine meal, The North surpasses your expectations. Marco Ormonde will not compromise his integrity, or the integrity of his menu.
Sinking into a tastefully upholstered club chair, in the understated but elegant room, I knew that this was going to be a memorable meal. White linen, fresh flowers, fine china, well weighted cutlery, gracious staff, all details attended to.
Masterful is his approach; each day trying to better the meals, the presentation, his staff is motivated and proud to work at The North, and it shows. He prides himself on his training; he is educating tomorrow’s fine chefs and servers.
I started my meal with the Wild Mushroom and Truffle Soup, finding each spoonful to be a gentle explosion of fungi flavours, simply the best mushroom soup ever. My designated dining companion shared tastes of the Goat Cheese Wrapped with Prosciutto, with Baby Salad greens, Raspberry Dressing and Trio Pepper Confit. We found the rich softness of the goat cheese perfectly creamy and well balanced with the greens and gentle inclusion of apple.
Sous Chef humbly approached the table with an apology for the late delivery of bread accompanied by a creamy tapenade dip, however, as enchanted as we were by his sincere apology, it was totally unnecessary as we hadn’t noticed the missing bread, we were rapturously enjoying our appetizers.
We were in good company for lunch; our own Mayor Jeff Lehman was seated opposite and he and his dining companions seemed to be enjoying their meal.
My main course was the Coconut and Lime Poached Blue Mon trout, gently placed on a bed of risotto, served with fine beans, and confit tomatoes. My only complaint was a minor one, I hesitate to mention it, but, while corn was seasonal and fresh, I personally found it to be placed with a rather heavy hand.
Dining companion was pleased with the Mushroom and Truffle Linguine, with corn, sundried tomato, arugula and peas…although she too felt the corn was making an un-necessarily bold appearance.
Dessert delighted us both; ginger crème brulee, artistically plated, individual Bodum coffee makers poured out rich dark coffee, served with a peanut butter biscotti. As we sipped and lingered over dessert I noticed the true extent of Chef Marcos eye for detail, the position of the restaurant logo etched into the glass door, is a delicate shadow on the opposite wall as the sun finds perfect placement. It was an exquisite moment, an exquisite meal. Chef Marcos last words from our interview lingered in my mind; “feed the soul not the hunger”, and that he did!
-Written by: Penelope Morrow
Penelope Morrow is a writer, editor and food aficionado from Barrie, follow her tweets at @penelopejmorrow
49 Mary Street,