Part of the experience that brings us to dine out so often is the atmosphere that can’t be recreated at home so easily. Small restaurants are especially a favourite: the cramped dining spaces, your elbows dangerously close to knocking your neighbour’s water over, the overheard conversations you try not to eavesdrop on while waiting for your appetizers to arrive. It’s fun. It can also be as festive and social as you want it to be. (At Pizzeria Libretto, we once saw a couple turn to another table to offer half of their gigantic plate of carpaccio to complete strangers. We were pretty jealous.) So, while the food was good, it was the lively conversations, excited patrons aahing at their plates, and a great view of their open kitchen that made dining at Acadia a really great night out.
The dishes we chose seemed relatively straightforward at first, but when they finally arrived at the table, it was a different matter. The unexpected flavours (some that we were admittedly confused by – the scallops and basil) and a restrained use of molecular gastronomy elevated the food to something new and different for us. There wasn’t anything particularly avant-garde or to the likes of elBulli, but the little surprises when you dipped into the gelées just made it for me. If I had the vocabulary for any of the culinary techniques used, I would use it, but instead I’ll just say that I kept raving and raving about the intensely flavoured ‘magic white puffs’ and ‘pretty clouds’ adorning our dishes. They just kept surprising us; some tasted like chocolate and others like coffee, while the ones in our dessert were definitely peanut butter. (The extent of my knowledge is limited to gelées, which is what I believe the green blobs on our plates were? I’ll shut up now before embarrassing those who know me.)
Cornbread with Sweet Potato and Bourbon Butter. Addictive.
Housemade Sausage jambalaya. Good.
Northumberland Strait Scallops with chicken crackling, parmesan and a pickled watermelon rind. The scallop was refreshingly a tad undercooked inside, but I enjoyed the texture.
Fried catfish. It was the special of the night, thinly battered and cooked to juicy and flakey perfection, but as beautiful as the fish looked on the plate, it was too sparse looking. Something was lacking – a sauce? A few greens?
Veal Cheeks. By the far the prettiest dish I’ve eaten. It was so pretty and whimsical (striking use of contrast!) that I’ve decided to add another picture of it. It was meaty and perfect for winter.
Much to our chagrin, the dessert that night (December 31, 2011) was a clunky Banana Pudding. The presentation was magical, there was a thin layer of sugar that you had to break through before getting to the pudding, but a pudding is a pudding.