Our fridge has been saddled with a bumper crop of fall ingredients the past week. We’ve spent the last few days eating nothing but vegetables. This weekend we did our best to polish off a stubborn batch of cabbage and leek soup that had been holed up in our fridge, refusing to disappear. Too much veg!
This morning I decided we needed a meal we could sink our teeth into. Something our guts could grab hold of and mull over. So this morning Hanne and I dragged our veg laden stomachs around the corner to Reservoir, our neighbourhood microbrewery and bistro that puts on a wicked brunch every Saturday and Sunday.
Reservoir serves no ordinary brunch. It’s both fancy and casual, a mashup of French bistro food and British pub grub, complete with mystery meat. It’s the kind of food that goes well with either a glass of wine or a house brewed stout.
On a Sunday morning Reservoir is packed with Franco and Anglo post bohemian hipsters, creative types with real jobs and accessory-babies that are as meticulously put together as they are. I think some of them even do their kids’ hair. Turnover is fast and you can get a seat fairly quickly, especially if you grab a couple stools at the bar like we did this morning.
We started off sharing a cream of mushroom soup topped with truffle oil. This guy says that restaurants use truffle oil only to charge more for their dishes, but at five bucks a dish I suspect Reservoir used truffle oil on this soup only because it tastes so good. The soup had a smooth creamy texture and the nutty aroma of butter browned in a pan. Most of the mushroom was pureed, but the morsels left behind were tightly packed flavour bombs. This, my friends, is the right way to start your Sunday:
It took Hanne and me a while to figure out what to order next. If there’s something weird like cow’s tongue or pig’s feet on the menu, it’s Hanne’s dish. Me? I tend to order food that makes a mockery of my choking arteries while on its way down to my gut. The problem today was that the weirdest dish up for grabs was also the biggest and fattiest piece of meat. We both spotted it as the waiter scooped one from the kitchen behind the bar and walked past us. Hanne called dibs and stole the beef cheek right out of my mouth. Because Hanne and I are plate swappers, we’re unable to select the same dish, so I tried to do Hanne one better. I ordered the blood sausage, which I knew had the potential to out-weird her order. Take that, beef cheeks!
The beef cheek was topped with a poached egg and came on a bed of pureed squash. The meat was braised, and the juice and fat had massaged the meat to perfect tenderness. I didn’t notice the poached egg, but Hanne let me clean the remaining squash and meat juice off her plate with the crisp, buttery bread that accompanied our meal. Hanne admitted the dish wasn’t all that weird, but she was happy nonetheless.
The blood sausage, on the other hand, was very weird. It was the first time I tried the dish and I’m happy I took the risk. It had a similar thick texture to liver, without the dry pastiness. The flavour reminded me of red wine. I’m not sure if it was flavoured with wine or not, but I can’t imagine anything else that would make blood taste so good. Its maroon colour reminded me more of a cooked beet than the gushy redness of blood I’m more familiar with. The flavour of the sausage was rich and heavy on the tongue, well complimented by the sweet carrots and snappy white radishes. The sausage casing was crispy and blackened, its charred flavour so good that I continued enjoying it even after considering that I might be chomping on the equivalent of scab. Delicious! No, seriously!
Don’t be turned off by Reservoir if blood sausage and beef cheek are too unusual for you. The menu changes every week, but there are always plenty of dishes with more everyday ingredients. On previous visits, I’ve enjoyed the two-egg dish, served with lard fumé, which is kind of like bacon but thicker, better-tasting and likely worse for you. You can also order the tomato and three cheese omelette or an apple and endive salad. The dish in the thumbnail at the top of this post is wild mushrooms with onion tempura and fresh mozzarella. I hope it’s still being served next time I visit Reservoir.
Check out the full menu below: