Review: Acadia Restaurant

3 Nov

I have been drooling at the prospect of going to Acadia for a few months now.  As more and more reviews from fellow food enthusiasts came pouring in, they made me want to drop everything and head over to Little Italy as quickly as I could. The opportunity arose to go this week and I made damn sure that my reservations were secure.

Nestled into a cozy space on Clinton St. just north of College, Acadia couldn’t be a more welcoming place. Exposed brick walls and beautiful hardwood floors make the space look modern, but not overly trendy.  We arrived at 7:30 to find the place bustling with the din of happy diners from various demographics: families, dates, friends, coworkers, young, middle-aged, older, men, women…you name them, they were probably there.

We were shown to our table beside the open kitchen – a concept with which I am completely in love. Far from the insane, noisy, distracting clatter you  might anticipate, it was the exact opposite. Everyone in the kitchen was clearly in sync with each other with nary a raised voice or dropped implement. It makes for a fascinating floor show. We were offered several kinds of water – no, really – but opted for plain ol’ tap. (Hasn’t killed us yet.) We pored over the drink menu which is extensive, to say the least. The craft beer selection on draught is excellent and we opted for the Flying Monkey and Spearhead Hawaiian Style. Like everything else we’d try that night, we were pleasantly surprised at the quality.

Finally: down to the food. How to choose? Chef Matt Blondin’s menu is not a massive one, allowing the kitchen to focus on producing high quality dishes. We were under strict instructions to try the shrimp & grits, so that was already decided. It was a toss up between the halibut cheeks and the scallops (how often does one get to say that?) and eventually the latter won out. For our mains, we opted for the fish dishes:  yellow snapper with chanterelles mushrooms, bacon and Sea Island red peas and the Yarmouth albacore with blackened spices,  celery maque-choux, brown butter hollandaise and tarragon. We also got a side of farro “succotash” with wild mushrooms and truffle oil to share.

I began with the scallops while my husband dug into the shrimp and grits. The scallops were cooked to perfection. Beautifully seared on the outside, they were soft and unctuous on the inside. Paired with chicken crackling (chicken skin is one of those things I crave…), parmesan crisps and basil leaves, the whole dish was not only delicious, but complimentary. Each element played off the other: salt, sweetness, crunch, smoothness. I didn’t think another app could top it. Then I started on my half of the shrimp and grits. I…was wrong. THIS was spectacular. Served in a ham hock broth, the creamy grits are laced with a savoury pimento cheese. At the bottom of the dish, perfectly cooked shrimp make for a perfect comfort food bite. I seriously considered cancelling the rest of our order to order six more bowls of this.

Next to arrive was the albacore tuna. The plating itself was gorgeous with the pieces of fish arranged artfully on the plate that sat between us, dressed with a stellar brown butter hollandaise sauce. I don’t know how I could go back to regular hollandaise sauce now, it was that good. The fish was pink on the inside, just as it should be and the accompaniments served to enhance, rather than detract, from the fish. The yellow snapper was excellent as well, especially with the incredibly crispy double-smoked bacon, but I must say that I thought the albacore was the better of the two. I can’t imagine any diner being upset with either dish, though, and our scraped-clean plates told that story more clearly than anything else could.

But let us not forget the farro “succotash” that I’d say was more risotto-like than anything. In my opinion, that is a very, very good thing. It was the definition of earthy deliciousness: truffle, mushrooms and grain. I’m sure the cornbread and collard greens are great, but trust me on this one…get the farro. Maybe two.

Finally, we ended our meal with a couple of Blanche de Chambly’s and opted to split the poached Bartlett pear with a cake consisting of condensed milk as well as some pumpernickel crisps and creme fraiche ice cream.  It was a lovely way to end the meal: not too heavy and, once again, well-showcased ingredients that complimented each other in terms of flavour and texture.

Where many restaurants might be showing you the door once your meal is complete, we did not feel rushed at all. Overall, the service was very good: the wait staff was knowledgeable, friendly and invisible when it needed to be. There was a great buzz in the room from the beginning of our meal to the end roughly two hours later, and I have no doubt it continued right to closing. The food was top notch, the service excellent. I’m sorry I waited so long to go, but won’t be waiting that long to return.

*pictures above are not mine.
Acadia on Urbanspoon

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2 Responses to “Review: Acadia Restaurant”

  1. Stella Yu November 3, 2011 at 4:35 pm #

    Great post, Carolyn =) You should go again and try Acadia’s tasting menu! ^^

  2. J November 14, 2011 at 8:19 am #

    All ready to go again!

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