When an opportunity to meet and hang out with Chuck Hughes falls in to your lap, you take it. When you mention that you’ve been dying to go to one of his restaurants, and he says “come by Le Bremner some time, don’t worry about it!” YOU GO.
At Le Bremner yesterday evening, I spent over two hours sitting at the bar with Grace, one of my best friends in the world, experiencing one of the best meals I’ve ever had.
Our servers were Vito and Eddie, and they were simply wonderful. It was some of the best service I’ve ever seen at a restaurant; extremely knowledgeable without being stuffy, completely naturally friendly, and just so much fun. They often sang/danced along to the restaurant’s music, which happened to be perfectly aligned to my taste- mostly rock hits from the 70s-90s. I was so happy to see that this fancy restaurant was collectively grooving to Sweet Child of Mine and Stevie Wonder.
THE FOOD, THOUGH. THE. FOOD.
We started with drinks as we perused the short, seasonal menu and learned about the oysters. Grace and I both had the Ox-Eye- a cocktail made with Jameson, fresh ginger juice, and angostura bitters. It was balanced, boozy, slightly bitter and very gingery, and perfectly refreshing. The next drink I got was the Bremner Negroni, made with gin, Lillet, Aperol, and a gorgeous orange twist.
We were then treated to the true Le Bremner experience: a 9-dish tasting menu that left me speechless. I am very rarely speechless.
The first course:
Six oysters with lemon, freshly-grated horseradish, hot sauce, and a cucumber-ginger-white balsamic mignonette. They were fresh and briny and wonderful, brought over from the east coast of Canada, and after eating the first one au naturel, I loved playing around with all the different garnishes and trying out different combinations. Even Grace, who isn’t much for oysters, enjoyed the one that she ate with the mignonette sauce.
Tuna carpaccio with tahini, crispy shallots, and cilantro. It was light and delicious, and the different flavours and textures just worked. The tuna itself was fresh and beautiful, the tahini added a creamy texture and subtle sesame flavour, the crispy shallots were sweet and crunchy, and the brightness of the cilantro was the perfect thing to bring it all home.
House-made pagnotta bread, made with a three-year-old starter, was soft and moist in the middle and had a perfectly crusty exterior- I won’t forget this bread anytime soon. It became the measuring (bread)stick against which I will measure all future bread. It came with whipped butter and flaky Maldon salt and it was perfect.
The second course:
Spicy fried chicken with pickles and homemade ranch. The chicken was crunchy on the outside, and juicy and perfect on the inside. The pickles alone knocked our socks off, and they were in good company atop this chicken. The ranch sauce was tangy and creamy and I wish I had a jar of it in my fridge at all times.
Veal parmigiana bone marrow with garlic toast. Picture a glorious, luxurious plate of bone marrow, ready to be scooped out of the bone. Now, picture a hearty, eye-talian classic veal parmigiana sandwich. NOW SQUISH THOSE TWO PICTURES TOGETHER. It was my first experience with bone marrow and it was just as wonderful as I’d been taught to expect by the whole world of fine cuisine- and I loved that it was served in such a creative way, with red sauce and gratinéed cheese and garlic bread. Italian-American deli meets high-end French bistro and my brain’s joy receptors are simply OVERWHELMED.
Cauliflower cacio e pepe (not in the photo). Perfectly-cooked cauliflower loaded with parmesan and black pepper and a creamy, cheesy sauce. It was a delicious and decadent side dish that went really nicely with the fried chicken and the bone marrow.
The third course:
Crispy spaghetti squash with crushed hazelnuts, crispy brussels sprouts, and a sriracha honey. I had no idea what to expect from this dish, but yet again, the surprising flavour combinations and various textures worked in perfect harmony. It was by far the best spaghetti squash I’ve ever tasted, and I kept going back for more even as I was getting Dangerously Full.
Homemade cavatelli with braised lamb neck and mint. The fresh pasta was the most perfectly textured pasta I’d ever had- ridged and curled, soft but still chewy, and carby and amazing. The braised lamb neck was warm, rich, and slightly gamy in the way that lamb should always be, and the mint made the whole dish sing. We were told that it’s a Bremner classic, and I can absolutely see why.
Homemade Ferrero Rocher chocolates that were about 27 times better than the average Ferrero Rocher. Crispy-crunchy outside, gooey oozy chocolate-hazelnut joy inside. We were offered the sucre a la creme pancakes which I’ve been dying to try, but as you can imagine, we were ready to roll the whole way home so we had to decline. I had already opened my pants’ top button after the second course, and my fly was fully down midway through the third- DON’T WORRY, I had planned ahead by pairing my black jeans with a hip&fun shirt that’s nice and long and loose-fitting, it’s not my first rodeo- but there was no way I could remain decent AND ingest the pancakes. I’ll just have to come back for them.