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Thursday, September 15, 2011


Spencer’s at the Waterfront – Burlington, Ontario
Eating with Matthew (chef)

            A few days before the Monday that we went out for dinner, we spent an hour rolling Matt’s change that he had laying around and he declared that we would use the rolled change to go out for dinner on our Monday off.  Driven by the offer of food I sat with him and rolled his change to earn myself a dinner out.  Turns out he had enough change for us to have a dinner out at Spencer’s.  The reservation was made immediately and I started to plan what to wear.
            On the Monday night we showed up for our reservation at 8pm and the hostess gave us two options: take a seat inside or wait for a seat on their patio overlooking the water.  We opted for inside with hopes that we could move out by the time we reached dessert, we were quite hungry and wanted to get our order in. 
The hostess then sat us along the windows overlooking the water; lovely view but we were seated on a high traffic walkway that was constantly used by staff and customers.  Because of this fact though, the manager passed by us and stopped to introduce himself.  When he found out that Matt was a local chef, he stayed to chat a little longer.  We asked him if he could recommend a wine for us within a certain budget and he explained to us that Spencer’s had recently had a winemaker’s dinner and he was willing to sell us one of the left over bottles at cost.  This excited us for two reasons: it was a Zinfandel, our favourite grape right now; and he was going to give it to us at cost, which is great for obvious reasons.  Our wine: Ravenswood Single Vineyard Zinfandel, 2007.
As we were enjoying our wine Matt and I talked over our potential menu choices and, to our surprise, appetizers started coming out.  The manager sent us out the foie gras appetizer (which we had planned on ordering anyhow) and a plate of dumplings.  We were also given a Canadian Cab Franc icewine from Niagara to pair with it, which was not disgustingly sweet and it was easy to drink.  The food was amazing and, to my surprise, the dumplings beat out the foie gras (not that the classically prepared foie wasn’t amazing, but the dumplings were the perfect combination of salty, savoury, goodness).  After we finished this lovely surprise, it was cleared and we were offered a table outside; we accepted. 
When we got comfortable in our seats with a view of the water, the server moved our wine for us and offered us carbonated water that they have on draught, which was fabulous and a pretty cool concept.  The charming young man then took our order.

Our Order (sharing everything):
First Course
Scallop and pork belly with corn, tomatillo, jalapeno, cilantro (14)
Second Course
Wild Canadian Salmon with tomato, chilli, pine nuts (which we ordered without), orzo(which he switched to rice), and lobster (29)
Forsyth Farm Lamb with fava, tomato, artichoke, goat cheese (45)

We very much enjoyed our outside table as the warm breeze was dancing around us, and slowly everyone evacuated their tables leaving us with our own private patio.  We took some pictures for this very blog and talked about how great it is to go somewhere and be treated like you are actually a big deal (when you clearly are not).
When our scallops came out, they also sent us out a gnocchi (served with fava beans, peas, chantrelles, farm egg) which was yet another pleasant surprise.  To complement our appetizers, we were also sent out two glasses of Vineland Estate semi dry Riesling, 2008, which was exactly as you expect it would be.  The scallops and pork belly dish = AMAZING + MMMMM; true story.  The gnocchi was very good but we were running out of room and had two more big dishes coming so we didn’t finish it (I have no math equations for the gnocchi).  I’m not giving a lot of details about the dishes because by this point in the evening I was quite dosed with alcohol and my notes are getting difficult to understand fully; seriously, this gets really vague. When this course was cleared, our server stood and chatted with us for a while proving that he was quite food savvy and he asked us a lot about Matt’s restaurant (which feeds the ego and very cleverly increases his tip significantly); despite the fact that he is paid to be pleasant to us, he seemed very genuine.
Our main course came out and they had forgotten to omit the pine nuts so he promptly removed it from the table and left us with our lamb.  As far as the lamb goes, I am dependant on my notes at this point because I was past the point of memory, I wrote “OMG” (yes I am a paid writer).  We gobbled it up quickly and when the salmon arrived I vaguely remember being disappointed but what I wrote was “I have nothing to say”; take that as you will.  After that course was clear, we were told about the dessert selections and a fine selection of cheeses.  We took the server’s recommendation and ordered the rhubarb ‘something’ (can’t read my writing) and apparently it was delicious but the professional who made it forgot to add the rhubarb to it.  We also ordered a Valpolicella port and an icewine by Megalomaniac (because we really needed to drink more at this point).  As we devoured dessert and drank our fortified wines we discussed the topic ‘Why is Cootes’ Paradise not a paradise?’; it was a thought provoking discussion about how many Hamiltonians don’t appreciate their waterfront.
While it was nice to sit out on their patio, and I’m sure we could have kept ordering for at least another hour, we took the hint when they had torn down every table around us as they prepared to finish for the night.  We requested our bill and were surprised how we managed to keep it so high when we got so much for free (but we do have a special talent of ringing up large bills), but the experience was well worth it.  We paid with the intention of going for a romantic walk but, it turns out, that was only my intention. 
Final Bill: $236
Tip: 30% (he was a very good server)
Overall Grade:  90%
Likeliness of Return: 100% (but only in the summer, otherwise you are paying a lot for less of an experience)