What happens when communities, local farmers and education work together? We headed to Bistro ’67, at the Durham College Centre for Food in Whitby, to find out.
Run by hospitality students and staff, Bistro ’67 is a unique, green-certified teaching-inspired restaurant that brings the ‘field-to-fork’ vision to life through a culinary experience that celebrates fresh cuisine. And indeed, this commitment was evident from our impeccably set window table that offered us full views of the DC Centre for Food gardens, filled with late season vegetables.
Field-to-fork is a hot topic in food these days, so we were interested to find out how this concept would play out in this casual, fine dining atmosphere. So rather than order off the à la carte menu, we each decided to try the three-course Prix Fixe dinner for $35.
To start, we chose the butternut squash soup and the garden salad. The orange soup was made with Brie, toasted pumpkin seeds and chili oil, and arrived at the perfect temperature – not too hot – and had been pureed velvety-smooth with a hint of creaminess. The mild squash was livened up by a hit of chili oil, while the toasted pumpkin seeds lay nestled in a tiny pile in the middle of the bowl.
The chopped DC garden vegetable salad arrived as a hearty portion of locally sourced mixed vegetables, bacon, and roasted shallots, but was crunchy-fresh and the buttermilk dressing light.
As filet mignon tends to be a cut that chefs struggle to cook correctly, we decided that two filet mains should be ordered for comparison. Both arrived with an autumnal pairing of fork-tender roasted potatoes, asparagus, and spaghetti squash, with a spoonful of black cherry infused demi-glace on top of the filet. The demi-glace was perfect – not too sweet or plentiful to overpower the taste of the filet – which allowed it to be the star of the dish.
And star this filet was. On both plates, the outside of the steak was nicely charred, while the meat was medium-rare throughout. Not bloody, not medium or well-done around the edges with the rare meat in the centre. From first bite to last bite, the filet remained perfect medium-rare.
For dessert, we chose the Ontario cherry clafoutis with lavender creme and the butter-baked cranberry and hazelnut cake with caramel sauce. Clafoutis is a classic French dessert made with cherries that are covered with a thick-flan like batter then baked, and this one arrived in a small, white ramekin with three dots of cream on the plate.
The Ontario cherries livened up the mild, moist cake, but the lavender creme tasted store bought and lacked any suggestion of lavender. However, the generously-sized cranberry and hazelnut cake was a triumph: dense and moist, the caramel sauce complimented the crunch toppings and whole hazelnuts baked into the batter.
Overall, a Bistro ’67 was a well-priced delight. The service was polite and thoughtful, the ambiance (with the exception of a brief issue with the stereo system) was upscale and contemporary. Only two small points were off-notes: the prix fixe menu written on the wall was unreadable from our seat due to the glare from the windows, and no wine list was provided for that evening, leaving our server to recite the wines available. But these are minor points in an otherwise exceptional dinner service.
Verdict: Excellent value for a high-end dining experience.
Location: Bistro ’67 can be found at 1604 Champlain Avenue, inside the DC Centre for Food building, Whitby.
Phone: 905-721-3312 for reservations and hours
Have you dined at Bistro ’67? Share your experience in the comments!