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Eigensinn Farm


Wilfrid
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How far is the restaurant from Toronto? I assume there's no reasonable way to get back to Toronto after dinner?

I allow 2½ hours. But I could probably return in under 2 hours (less traffic - you fight early rush-hour traffic on the way up).

When you're paying that much it makes sense to linger and appreciate it and not have to worry about getting back. I've heard of people taking a limo (but heard it costs around $1000) and others who paid a driver (hard-up student) to drive them.

I want to maximize the experience and for the additional cost ($75-125Cdn for two at a B&B) it's really a no-brainer for me. Especially after all that wine.

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Great report! Thanks Estufarian.

I've also dined at Eigensinn Farm exactly a year ago, and I could see "some" of the same threads and tastes that we experienced, e.g. foie gras, duck, seafood amuses, venison, use of apple cider, pickerel, lobster, use of mushrooms.

My summary, reading between the lines is "hit and miss". For such a level of experience, there should not be hit and misses, especially for serving 8 people.

I think I learned more about the wines than the food. Estufarian is so refined at the wine side of the experience and it shows perfectly well.

Having said that, I think that Michael's cuisine is almost on a level of its own- very difficult to compare to others, because he is creative and daring. Actually, one of the interesting parts of the dinner (which Estufarian mentions well- but I want to stress it even more) is the actual "montage" that the food comes on top of. Its is very creative.

From my point of view, I wouldn't call it "the best experience" (food-wise), but "the most unique experience". It's a combination of food, history, methods, place, products, feel, nature, your-own-wine, etc...and that is undeniably unique.

"I hate people who are not serious about their meals." Oscar Wilde

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  • 1 month later...

My wife and I made the trek up there yesterday and was quite impressed with the

whole experience.

It is unique , indeed. It's been perfectly described by estufarian and for me too,

it was my best meal in Canada. I love Michael's philosophy(and food !), Nobuyo is a

great host and I thought the dining room was great.

Leave alone the fact that it is in the middle of nowhere and that the warmth

of Eigensinn Farm is just fantastic when there's one meter snow outside ...

One thing : estufarian is right when he says that having

a lot of different wines makes the whole experience better.

So we have taken 6 bottles of wine and opened 4.

Of course, we have not drunk it all ! But it has made the meal so much better

to be able to match the wines with the food (to some extent).

Of course, that all depends on how important wine is for you. For me, clearly,

it's important :biggrin: but Michael Stadtlander's food really deserves the best wine.

"Je préfère le vin d'ici à l'au-delà"

Francis Blanche

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Thank you for the review estufarian.....it is the best one I have read to date ...I have not had a chance to see Eigensinn and when folks come to this farm, I am usually asked.."have you eaten at Stadtlander's yet".....and all I have to discuss on that is based on bits of other's experiences....sometimes with a bit too much "cult blindness" for lack of a better term....but that review plus the conversations with the cooks that have worked up there and down here is a big help.

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  • 1 month later...

My husband I have been given a "gift" to go to Eigensinn Farm as our wedding present. It has taken one year to finally get a reservation but we are looking forward to our June experience. In your review you state that you have recommendations for accomodations in the Collingwood area. Would you kindly let me know what these are. Thanks.

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I'm returning to Eigensinn in late May - and discovered that my favourite B&B is in the process of being sold. Not finalized yet, but they wouldn't book us for May as they didn't expect to be there.

So I'm looking too. Have found some others, but can't recommend anything (yet).

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  • 2 months later...

Eigensinn Farm is kind of hard to explain. Michael Stadtlander was a celebrated Toronto chef. Some years ago--five, maybe--he gave it all up to move two hours north to his own farm. There, he serves a set menu to eight ?to twelve people each night for $250 CDN ($175 US). Famed in articles and reviews, Eigensinn Farm is Statlander's experiment in cooking off the land; the food he serves is as organic as he can get it, and mostly from his farm and his neighbors?. Based on everything I've ever read about the place, Eigensinn Farm is a different sort of restaurant.

We knew it was different the moment we pulled into the driveway of the farm. There was no sign telling us we were at the right place, and the house didn't look in all that great a shape. There was an abandoned bus on the property, and a large barn. Ducks, chickens, Guinea fowl, and a pea hen wandered around the parking area. We saw a woman in a chef's apron hanging washing on the line, and figured it was the correct place.

We deliberately arrived a bit early so we could walk around the farm. There were three large pigs in one pen and a pile of piglets in another. There was a large vegetable garden, barely planted, and a much better looking herb garden.

And we finally saw a handmade sign that said Eigensinn Farm over an entryway.

The only door was a back door, which opened into a darkened mud room. There was a washer and drier, a refrigerator, a pile of boots, and another of coats. I tried the most obvious door and ended up in the kitchen--oops. The other door led into the dining room.

Actually, it was the living room of the house; but it was set up as a dining room. Two tables for two, one for three (that was us), and a table for four. Eleven people would be dining at Eigensinn Farm that night.

Eleven lucky people. A table at Eigensinn Farm is probably the hardest reservation to get in Canada. Let's do the math. Figure ten people each night. Figure six nights a week. Figure 40 weeks a year, with days off and vacations and winter when it's too cold and too far. That adds up to 2400 diners per year, less than many fine restaurants serve in two weeks.

When we called for our date, a single group of eight had reserved the entire restaurant. But they hadn't paid yet, so we put ourselves on a waiting list. When the group canceled, we were in.

We received a tentative menu by e-mail a few days before so we could choose wines--the farm is strictly BYO. Three is an awkward number, and I brought a Herbert Lamy white Burgundy, an off-year half bottle of d'Yquem for the foie gras, and a 1975 Rijoa for the meat courses. A sweet Riesling stayed in its bottle; by the time dessert rolled around, we had had enough wine.

Michael's wife, Nobuyo, runs the front of the house. She met us at the door, took our wine, and showed us our table. By any measure, the room is eclectically furnished. There's driftwood, shells and candles everywhere. The ceiling is painted with an odd colorful amoeba-like pattern. Twigs act as a border high on the walls. Bright colors are everywhere.

The two other couples arrived, and we all introduced ourselves. (The table for four arrived later, after we had started eating, and we never met them. The three smaller tables were grouped closer together, and occasionally we commented about the food to each other.)

Nobuyo is Japanese, and she had a younger Japanese woman assisting her with the service. (We decided they were not mother and daughter.) Together, they served ten courses to the eleven of us.

Course 1: Amouse Platter. Five different morsels were arranged on a pretty handmade horseshoe-shaped plate. First was a fresh oyster topped with spiced sake and chopped shallots. Second was a vary tasty piece of sautéed whitefish, with a vinegar and parsnip glaze. Third was a delicious bit of cream of asparagus soup; there were some other flavorings that we never identified. Fourth was a piece of ham from Stadtlander?s smokehouse served on toast. The ham was delicious: not too chewy and not too salty. And fifth was a piece of jackfish sashimi, served with garlic, chives, ginger, and soy--also delicious. Everything was tasty, and the entire tray felt harmonious--strongly flavored, interesting, and harmonious.

Course 2: Soup of upland cress--which I'll assume is similar to watercress--with a piece of lake trout and sprigs of fresh parsley and sorrel, served in a beautiful handmade soup bowl.

Course 3: Sautéed foie gras, served on a single ravioli of peach puree and ginger, with flaxseed oil, blackberry vinegar, and maple syrup...and some oxeye daisy leaves. The foie gras was perfectly cooked, and went deliciously with the other flavors. I liked the tastes of peach and maple, and the texture of the ravioli against the foie gras.

Course 4: Braised canner lobster, served with lobster bisque, wild rice, and mizuna. Another perfect dish: a very flavorful lobster set against the nuttiness of the wild rice and the bitterness of the mizuna.

Course 5: A tower of white spring salmon and black bass, served in a cream chive sauce with sea asparagus...with a piece of sea urchin on top. My one wish was for this dish to be hotter. Actually, nothing came out of the kitchen really hot, but I think this dish suffered the most because of it. Otherwise, it was perfectly fine. The fish was good. The sauce was good. The sea asparagus--tiny green asparagus that grows in estuaries--was very tasty.

Course 6: Black currant sorbet. The sorbet was delicious--rich and flavorful and not grainy--and the presentation was beautiful. The sorbet was in the punt of an upside-down broken wine bottle. That bottle was set in a broken hand-made bowl. Between the bottle and the bowl were sprigs of apple blossoms and mint leaves

Course 7: Barbecued squab, served with celery root puree, lovage, morels, celery root chips, and something that I wrote down as "squab innards sauce." Game and wild mushrooms--nothing wrong there. The celery flavor worked well, too.

Course 8: Lamb chops with grilled wild leek bulbs, potato gnocchi with wild leek pesto, asparagus and lamb jus. Both the lamb and the wild leeks were from the farm, which I found kind of magical. It was magically delicious, too: a melt-in-your mouth lamb. The gnocchi was delicious, too, as were the asparagus. But the wild leek bulbs were even better: crunchy and flavorful. I could have eaten an entire bowlful.

Course 9: Four cheeses: Pont Couvert, an unnamed mild blue cheese, a fresh goat cheese, and a cow-and-goat cheese called Matis...all from Quebec.

Course 10: The dessert course consisted of three desserts. We had a Bavarian cream pie, with strawberry, yogurt, and apple, a rhubarb hazelnut meringue cake, and wild ginger ice cream. Everything was delicious.

It's hard to explain why this meal felt so different from any of the other fine restaurant meals we've had. Part of it was the atmosphere. Nobuyo was very friendly, and the whole dinner felt more like being served in her home than at a restaurant. Early on in the dinner, for example, Michael and Nobuyo's son came out of a side room (his bedroom?) and walked into the kitchen. Again and again we chatted with the couples at the nearby two tables, sharing wine and commenting about the food.

Part of it was the style. Eigensinn Farm is a different kind of restaurant. Michael Stadtlander is not running a restaurant kitchen; he's cooking a single meal for eleven dinner guests. <i>I've</i> cooked a ten-course meal for eleven dinner guests. Of course, Michael is a far better cook than I am, but the point is that what he's doing is more like what foodies do in their own kitchen than what chefs do in a restaurant kitchen. (After dinner we were talking with Michael. He said that he had four assistants in the kitchen, but only really needed one.)

Part of it was the menu. Stadtlander really tries to put together a menu that reflects the farm and the season. He tries to use local ingredients: wild leeks he gathered himself, lamb he raised himself, herbs he grew himself. His menu is harmonious: interesting but not flashy. He's a great chef who tries to put the food first.

And part of it was the food. K commented how impressed she was that Stadtlander was willing to serve food that didn't look restaurant-perfect but still tasted delicious. The presentations were beautiful, as were the dishes, but taste was the most important. In a world of high-end chefs trying more and more bizarre presentations, Eigensinn Farm just felt more "real."

And that's the word that best describes a meal at Eigensinn Farm: real. Sure, there are better meals out there, and more expensive ones. But there isn't another restaurant where you feel like you've been invited to dinner, where you're pleased that the family cat has decided to walk through the dining room and that the large dog has filled up the doorway. There isn't another restaurant where you feel, really feel, that the chef is cooking just for you. And there isn't another restaurant where you can, at the end of the meal, wander through the kitchen and realize that it is more a home kitchen than a restaurant kitchen--with odd art on the walls and a newspaper-strewn breakfast table in the back--albeit with a 12-burner Garland.

Bruce

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Part of it was the menu. Stadtlander really tries to put together a menu that reflects the farm and the season. He tries to use local ingredients: wild leeks he gathered himself, lamb he raised himself, herbs he grew himself. His menu is harmonious: interesting but not flashy. He's a great chef who tries to put the food first.

I wish all chefs put the food first; this will be the way of the future, chefs will be greatly influenced by the next wave, which is the use of local food when available, more seasonal menus, more casual spaces, more freedom for food presenters; restaurateurs-chefs. Less restrictions no more french-itilian-west coast-bla bla, just what is available, when you have the basics down, and have all the cultural influences that Canada has, the chef will be able to have way more leeway, with leeway comes way more creativity.

thankyou all for sharing your experiences

stovetop

Cook To Live; Live To Cook
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So cool. Thanks for the insight, Schneier. Is it BYOB?

Yes. And I think the meal works better when you have eight people, and can B enough B so that there's something unique for each course.

B

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What a fantastic read! Can I forward my reviews to you so you can punch them up a little?

thanks

edit sp

We do our own, thank you. (They're of Minneapolis--and in the Heartland board. We have a monthly column in the Minneapolis Star-Tribune.

But thanks for the compliment.

Bruce

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  • 1 year later...
so what is the news with Eigensinn?

Is it still open?

how can one make a reservation there?

Still open. RR 2, Singhampton (20 minutes south of Collingwood), 519-922-3128.

I know they close for a month or two in the summer and I seem to recall it was 2 months in advance for reservations. Was $300 each person last I checked and still BYOW only.

officially left egullet....

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  • 4 weeks later...
Eigensinn Farm! Everybody talks about it – it’s even on top10 lists of the best restaurants in the world. But no reviews anywhere (other than the special events). Should I burst the mystique bubble? With only around 50 diners per week and maybe a 40-week season (sometimes less) only 2000 diners per year can try this experience. So, is it hype, or is it the real thing?

Having eaten at many (at least 4 permanent and several guest appearances) of Michael Stadtlander’s restaurants my accumulated knowledge predisposes me to expect a passionate dedicated chef whose commitment to an organic, nurturing lifestyle (all aspects, not just food) is backed by solid cooking skills and lesser business skills. He’s also one of the “nice guys” and I’ve yet to find a chef in Canada who can beat Michael in food and wine matching. But organic food must still pass the taste test – and it helps if the meal comes in a smooth progression, rather than a mixture of rushed courses followed by hour-long pauses (as happened at previous restaurants). Even at Eigensinn, the experience has evolved from the original B&B to “fill the small room” to a more controlled usage of time and space.

This time I called in August for a reservation for 8 people – a group of us who try to get to Eigensinn annually (that way we get 3 oz portions of each wine – the minimum acceptable to allow as many wines as possible). But the new rules are that no groups larger than 6 will be served – this because of the potential problems in the kitchen serving larger groups simultaneously. However, if we book the whole room (hence not inconvenience other guests), then we can have up to 10 people (we stay at 8). But there are only 2 days available in 2003 (all others already having at least one table booked), both in December. So we have 3 months to anticipate and pray for no snow. We are told the time to arrive (recall this is the family home with normal household requirements including managing a school-age son).

We call 5 days prior for a ‘tentative menu’. From experience we know to expect last minute changes depending on availability and freshness (a previous example was when the promised guinea-hen was no longer available as the entire flock – free range of course - had been killed by raccoons the night before). It’s promised for 48 hours ahead; arrives – hand-scribbled and 80% legible – 36 hours ahead; and contains minor changes by the time we’re served. We’ve already planned a tentative slate of wines, but the lack of a ‘serious’ meat course (pork and duck are the promised ingredients) means we drop the big reds and scramble to add pinot noirs. But as usual we throw in an extra half dozen wines for last-minute changes.

We congregate at our regular B&B and are welcomed as the old friends we now are. The arrangement includes being driven both to and from Eigensinn so that we do not have to worry about drinking and then driving. As Eigensinn does not charge corkage, this is a significant issue. The B&B’s rely heavily on Eigensinn for business and the symbiotic relationship has aided the whole area. We’ve planned for snow, which hasn’t yet arrived, so we’re early. A quick phone call and we turn up at Eigensinn 30 minutes early. The dogs greet us in the parking yard (the area in front of the barn) and we proceed up the path built from the bases of broken wine bottles, through the laundry room/reception area (to remove coats and boots) and into the dining room lit by dozens of candles and a log fire. Wines are unpacked and lined up and glasses produced for the first Champagne (NV Brut – Montaudon: a quaffing Champagne, good structure with a lingering lemon finish). Apart from the immediate family (Michael, Nobuyo and son Herman) there are 3 ‘assistants’ all trainees; a sommelier/server and two kitchen apprentices. The Champagne disappears during the greetings and we get updates on this years developments, including the Stadtlander film, shot to show the philosophy of the operation with views of the farm in all seasons and the construction of the ‘underground’ kitchen (built into the slope of the land using old tyres filled with earth and stacked with the spaces filled with clay) which will be used to cook outside for the special events. This is previewed on a laptop – yes, they do have electricity!

Nobuyo suggests saving our next wine for the amuse gueule course, as it will match better, so we open a sherry (Principe Pio – Lustau; a dry oloroso sherry, elegant and dry, yet with a round mouth feel and good acid, making an easy drinking wine) which quickly disappears as we watch the rest of the film.

Hmmm. A Champagne and a fortified wine on empty stomachs. The noise level is already high – now we know why Michael doesn’t want additional guests with large parties. I’ve been nominated to take notes (usually we just sit back and enjoy) and people are telling me what to write down. This isn’t a restaurant review – it’s nothing like a restaurant; no menus; no formality, yet a beautifully presented table with fine glassware and cutlery. The room decoration is ‘artistic driftwood’. Lampshades for the electric bulbs are woven from twigs, feathers and shells. The ceiling features painted pools of colour outlined in thin wooden branches. A wooden vine trails completely around the room. The fireplace is stone but everywhere else the decorations are natural, stones, shells, both broken and unbroken pottery and wood. The walls are an ochre sand-like colour.

But, back to the table. First warm damp towels are offered and then the amuse gueule platters are served. The platters are natural wood of course, as are the chopsticks we use to eat this course. This is a strongly Japanese influenced course with seven separate ‘bites’ presented with clam, mussel and oyster shells as plate decorations. In no particular order, these are:

Head cheese with grated radish, mustard and horseradish

Squid sushi with rice and wasabi

Tuna marinated in soy and maple syrup on a sweet butter potato

Malpeque oyster in sake on the half shell

Atlantic salmon tartare on toast

Soup of mussels in clam chowder with saffron

Fresh smoked ham (made at Eigensinn)

The wine that we had deferred – Krug Grande Cuvée; complex, persistent bubbles with a very long finish but a touch of oxidation and apples in the finish. Champagne with raw (mostly) seafood – a stunning match for a spectacular course.  If any criticism, the ham was somewhat mismatched and could have been eliminated although my remaining sherry was also the perfect match for the smokiness. But the remaining bites were seamless, joined by the chewy texture (which did extend to the ham) and the temperature of each bite was perfect – the soup was hot and the others were NOT straight out of the fridge (which has bugged me at other restaurants).

The next course was described as ‘Essence from Venison and Wild Mushrooms’ – a somewhat understated description of what we received. First the base was smoked venison stock with matsuhake and pine mushrooms (I understand that Michael has a regular forager that brings him local wild mushrooms). This contained a minced venison ‘dumpling’ and was topped with a thin slice of foie gras (cooked in the broth) and cèpes. This was served in a hand-made pottery bowl, which sat in a birds nest suspended in a triangle of natural branches. Absolutely spectacular again. And served with a perfect wine match. ‘Boston Bual’ Special Reserve – Rare Wine Co. This is a special madeira blend that is medium sweet, smoky and has good acidity. The smoky/earthy notes were perfect for the mushrooms and venison and the sweetness and acidity combined were a perfect foil for the foie gras.

Next was the Foie Gras course. Sourced from a single farm in Quebec, this was sautéed and served in a duck jus, accompanied by mashed blue potato and pear, roasted parsnip and roasted Spanish onion with arugula sprouts. This was a healthy (or unhealthy, depending on your point of view) portion. The foie lacked the firmness of a seared presentation, and because of the jus the richness was more subdued. The pear was absolutely perfect – when perfectly ripe it is my favourite fruit. I could happily have just eaten pears – OK I’m exaggerating because I wouldn’t have passed up a perfectly seared foie gras either. This dish was subtler than anticipated, so it fades in the memory. Classic French cuisine fans would probably have been more impressed than I was this time.

The wine was a 1994 Pinot Gris Vendange Tardive – Zind-Humbrecht. VT’s are my favourite match with Foie Gras and this didn’t disappoint. The acid in this wine seems to have dropped a little as it aged, but it wraps perfectly around the fattiness of the dish. But drink up now before the acid drops further.

Onto the soup course. It probably goes without saying that the soup bowls were handmade etc., and mounted on a raised turned wooden plate. I’ll abandon further descriptions of the plates as the point has been made. A very concentrated Jerusalem Artichoke Soup supported sautéed Halibut, Hot-Smoked (at the farm) Salmon belly and Sea Urchin, decorated with a tarragon leaf.

Not an easy wine match. I had saved some of the Madeira, which was again a fine match. But we also brought out the first dry wine 1999 Puligny Montrachet, Les Folatières from Joseph Drouhin. This proved too light for this course, so was retained for the ‘fish course’ to follow.

While we were eating the soup course, a grill had been brought out and placed on the dining room wood fire. The next course was partially cooked here in the fireplace, then returned to the kitchen to be served as: BBQ Pickerel and Braised Lobster with roasted kohlrabi, lobster bisque and angel hair pasta. The texture was perfect here, but I found the whole dish a little sweet without the definition of the previous courses. The Puligny Montrachet was fairly lean and structured but the vanilla from the oak worked well with the sweetness of the dish. The second wine 1996 Meursault, Les Tillets had more personality, with a slight nuttiness and good acidity but didn’t work as well with the food, although by itself was more impressive.

For those not keeping count, we’re already up to 7 wines (2 of which were fortified) so we planned a short break now. It had started snowing and our next course was a blackcurrant sorbet with reduced apple cider and honey. This was served in an upturned broken champagne bottle punt, which nestled in a mound of the fresh snow.

Some of us tracked out to the smokehouse, while others circled around the table a few times – and one actually had a 10-minute nap on the dining room sofa. You just can’t do that at the French Laundry! You also can’t do that if there are other patrons. Sometime during this respite, one of the farm dogs managed to sneak into the dining room and quietly lay under the table for the rest of the meal – presumably hoping for some gourmet crumbs.

After a 15-minute pause it was time for the main courses. A roasted suckling piglet chop with hedgehog mushrooms and black trumpet mushrooms in a ‘sweet sauce’! I can’t get more specific here as a heated discussion broke out about the origin of the piglet. Some heard ‘Red River Farm’ and some heard ‘Eduardo’ – that being the name of the piglet before it graced our table. Among the various simultaneous discussions were references to ‘The Restaurant at the End of the Universe’; the wisdom of naming farm animals and just how friendly one should get with ones dinner. To protect the sensitivities of the tenderer members of the group we didn’t pursue the matter to a resolvable conclusion or a complete description of the dish. There were also other parts of the piglet on the plate too. Outside the controversy, I found the pig rather fatty without much flavour (I recall that it was a ‘heritage’ variety, not the bred-lean varieties we get commercially). We had two wines a 1994 Riesling Clos Windsbuhl from Zind-Humbrecht – all minerals and petrol and surprisingly high alcohol. In theory this was a perfect match with the pork. The second wine was 1997 Pinot Noir – Dry River, one of the top Pinot Noirs from New Zealand. This had some beet and cherry character – almost a cross between the North American and Burgundy styles, but lacked complexity. The fruit was solid and straight through with a touch of sweetness and earth but the alcohol gave a hot finish, which was the final impression.

Again, while we were both discussing and eating the piglet course, the grill was brought out and placed on the living room fire and parts of the next course were grilled over the fire. Advertised as ‘Eigensinn Duck’ we still awaited the final presentation. Essentially we had different parts of the duck served half a dozen different ways. This, in itself, was not a surprise as I’ve had several variations of this dish over the years. What adds a dimension here is that you know the duck was raised right here at Eigensinn – it’s not just a clever preparation but almost a communion with the food. And it’s that dimension that sets Eigensinn apart from any other fine dining experience I’ve had. And this course (even more so than the piglet) underlines Michael’s philosophy, reverence for nature and passion. Even if this dish had been prepared more spectacularly elsewhere, I can’t imagine feeling the same connection as one gets here. Magic!

Ok. So what did he do with it? On the grill was skewered duck stomach and red cabbage on a plum twig. Also the neck stuffed with the liver to make a sausage. The breast was roasted and served in a German Xmas Cookie Sauce (containing nuts and molasses). The leg had been confited and there was a dumpling and a strawberry marmalade – and a small Xmas tree cookie. Our wines were a 1996 Charmes Chambertin from Jadot; again alcohol was obtrusive, with dominant flavours of cherry skins in particular. A sturdy wine that contrasted nicely with the duck. The second wine was 1989 Royals Club ‘Blue Stripe’ from Remoissenet (this wine is an ‘overproduction’ from a designated vineyard in Burgundy that has been sold off (legally) to reduce the permitted yield to be maintained – believed to be Corton). This was a quaffable wine with a hint of stewed beets and a sweet flowery finish. Almost certainly not a Corton as lacks the structure but possibly a Volnay. A nice wine but too light for the food. Surprisingly I found the best match for the duck to be the Clos Windsbuhl riesling that I’d saved from the previous course.

Next the cheese course – camembert, chevrochon and a couple of others I didn’t note. Probably because by now the group were singing ‘Golden Oldies’ from the 50’s and 60’s. Did I mention we had great wine? And with this course we had 1990 Grand-Puy-Lacoste – one of the finest wines of the evening. perfect balance of fruit tannin and acid with pronounced blackcurrant flavours.

Dessert was apple strüdel with maple sugar, a wild blueberry compote, lemon sage honey cinnamon ice cream and a plum poached in a red wine and Hennessey Cognac reduction. I have a note on Poire William in there somewhere too. This was accompanied by a 1989 Gewürztraminer Heimbourg Selection Grain Nobles from Zind-Humbrecht (only a half bottle as we didn’t want to over imbibe). This was all honey and surprisingly high in alcohol. A dessert in itself.

And to finish Grand Fours – petit fours doesn’t begin to describe it. A four foot long split log placed on the table containing about 3-dozen items. Truffles – dark light and white; banana and tangerine sorbets; various almond cookies. And coffee/tea/infusions of choice. Accompanied by a Dow 1977 Vintage Port – which we didn’t quite finish (until breakfast the next morning).

So how was it overall? The best meal I’ve ever had IN CANADA. This one was exceptional and exceeded all previous Stadtlander meals (and I’ve had dozens). I even skipped last years trip as I preferred a conflicting function and wasn’t convinced that the effort and expense justified was warranted. But this year I really ‘got’ Eigensinn for the first time. It’s unique.

Can I recommend it unreservedly – no! We had the place to ourselves, which breaks down a lot of the formalities and ‘regular’ culture associated with fine dining. I don’t think we could have opened up as much to the experience with other patrons in the same room. We wouldn’t have relaxed as much – and also we would have to be cognisant of their feelings and experiences. And, of course, you probably couldn't match the range of wines we had. But will I return (even at $250 per person, no credit cards)? Absolutely! And the sooner the better (which means earliest next spring given the waiting list).

And breakfast at the B&B was superb. Fresh juices. Selection of fruits. Freshly baked muffins and biscuits and a superb Frittata. Contact me directly for the name of the B&B if you can get an Eigensinn reservation.

I am bringing this up from an old thread about Eiginsinn for the egulleter from Minn. (Schneirer?) .

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  • 4 months later...

I've dreamt of Singhampton on several past visits to Toronto, but for obvious reasons of distance, was never able to make it happen. On an upcoming visit, I thought I'd again give it a try, but was dissuaded by (1) inability to get through on the phone (not the first time this has happened) and (2) having a newborn, whom I'd presumably not be able to bring, and yet could not leave for the extended period of time necessary to eat (and presumably sleep) near the farm.

Here's the question I'd pose to forum members:

Given the choice, would you rather dine at Eigensinn, or at both Perigee AND Susur (for about the same cost)?

I'm going to have to content myself with the latter option, but wanted to hear thoughts and opinions.

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Couple of points.

Best time to call is around 5:00pm - they have a school-age child and so are around when he comes home. It's also before the meal preparation critical times.

Several of the B&B's in the area offer childsitting services. For older kids the B&B will also serve meals to the kids while you're at Eigensinn. They will also drive you to and from the restaurant. Assuming you get through to Eigensinn, ask them for the names of the B&B's (sorry, my favourite was sold last year so I can't give specifics any more).

I'd choose to dine at both Susur and Splendido! (In my experience Susur and Splendido are similarly priced and Perigee is about $10-20 per person less). Not to rehash the point too much, but at Perigee, both the food and wine are 'blind' (Susur tends to that too on the food side) and I've been extremely unfortunate with nearly all their choices. At Splendido the menu is 'published' and the wines are similarly 'recommended' (different glass for each dish) and can all be changed/substituted. They also offer (at additional cost, naturally) a Champagne matching - up to 6 different champagnes with the tasting menu.

ADDED as edit.

Just checked the Perigee tasting menu - it's no longer cheaper than Susur or Splendido (in fact each of the food and wine options are $5 more than Splendido). So it's now a no-brainer to choose Splendido (IMO).

Edited by estufarian (log)
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I look at it slightly differently, i.e. from the point of view of "what's missing in your culinary life that you want to fill in?"

For example, if you've been to several Michelin types restaurants in Europe (at the 2-star and up), Eigensinn will remind you of that (on a good day) without the formality of the Michelins.

I think you will get more variety from choosing 2 of Susur/Splendido/Perigee, but you're on the hook because it depends on what you order (vs. Eigensinn where it's all pre-set). (although the other 3 offer pre-set menus, you have some flexibility of choice)

If you're a wine buff, and it excites you to bring 3-4 bottles to enjoy during the meal, then Eigensinn allows you that experience.

It also depends on whether you get excited by the newness factor of the food vs. how well it was prepared (i.e. do you prefer a perfect steak or an imperfect something new you never had before).

My take:

Perigee: no surprises, well prepared

Susur: surprising food, not always well prepared

Eigensinn: surprising food, mostly well prepared

Splendido: good balance of two

Good luck.

"I hate people who are not serious about their meals." Oscar Wilde

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I would love to go to Eigensinn but factoring in the $300 per person plus one night at a B&B (if they do not try and get a minimum 2 nights out of you if its a weekend) in the area and related travel and other costs (although I would bring my own wine that was bought years ago I still consider this a cost) makes it a very hard choice every time I think about it. We thought about it again for a short trip in August but decided to fly down to NYC and go to Per Se again - figured if we were going to spend that kind of cash why not spend a little more (can also catch the Barney's warehouse sale for some new suits). I would opt for Spendido and given the recent review of Susur, it also. At Spendido I would BYOW with a bottle and fill in missing courses with a glass where needed. Not been to Perigee yet so can not compare. I prefer to see what I am ordering before and to have a little choice.

officially left egullet....

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I would love to go to Eigensinn but factoring in the $300 per person plus one night at a B&B (if they do not try and get a minimum 2 nights out of you if its a weekend) in the area and related travel and other costs (although I would bring my own wine that was bought years ago I still consider this a cost) makes it a very hard choice every time I think about it. 

The Zagat review (see separate thread) indicates that dinner for one with one drink (doesn't apply here I guess) and tip is $166. That's not right, is it? Isn't it more like $250?

If it really was $166, I think I'd drag the kids to the B&B after all!

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I would love to go to Eigensinn but factoring in the $300 per person plus one night at a B&B (if they do not try and get a minimum 2 nights out of you if its a weekend) in the area and related travel and other costs (although I would bring my own wine that was bought years ago I still consider this a cost) makes it a very hard choice every time I think about it. 

The Zagat review (see separate thread) indicates that dinner for one with one drink (doesn't apply here I guess) and tip is $166. That's not right, is it? Isn't it more like $250?

If it really was $166, I think I'd drag the kids to the B&B after all!

Just call them. Its $300 or more now.

officially left egullet....

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