Miijidaa café + bistro, Guelph, Ontario
Few restaurateurs have been so far ahead of the curve as Bob Desautels. He began sourcing local ingredients ages before it was sexy. It wasn’t easy but all along he knew it was right. His restaurants, The Neighbourhood Group, have supported farmers and fishers; brewers and winemakers for literally decades. Now son Court Desautels has taken the reins to move the ideals of his family to the next level and with Miijidaa’s opening, he’s doing it with great style and an approachable menu that can form the basis of a quick lunch or a celebratory dinner.
The word ‘Miijidaa’ is from the Ojibway language. It literally means “let’s eat” with all the celebratory gusto that’s attached to such a phrase. What sets this restaurant apart is how they have honoured the land on which they’re operating. This plaque is the first that I have ever seen in any restaurant in Canada.
Court writes: “There are many influences in what has come to define Canadian cuisine. Starting with the First Nations, followed by the influences of the French, English, there are many ideas and traditions that have motivated us to create something special. In a way, we’ve gone ‘back to the future’ – our menu is a very modern take on, and mélange of, our northern gastronomic history. We’ve even given a nod to the Vikings and the Portuguese who visited our shores before the early explorers. And, to be clear, we consider no cuisine superior to the other… each is equally inspirational.”
Chef Shea Robinson is a very active partner. He has had copious experience in a variety of excellent restaurants but here he’s found his philosophical home. As both a shareholder and the Executive Chef, he brings with him a wealth of culinary experience and, most importantly, imagination. His menus change seasonally…they simply have to because of the number of locally-based suppliers. From the herb bannock, Arctic charr, elk burgers and the cast iron cornbread, many of the ingredients honour the aboriginal heritage of a number of regions of Canada. The beer list is all-Canadian and the wine reflects Bob Desautels dedication to Canadian vintages. After all, he just wrote WineSense, the Three Keys to Understanding Wine!
And this is just the beginning!
He smokes duck breasts over hay and honours the three sisters, corn, beans & squash, in a hearty ragout. The elk Scotch egg is exceptional with a thin coating of meat and a soft egg-y centre. His dinosaur kale salad is strewn with puffed wild rice, topped with apple and Niagara Gold cheese. There’re always great flatbreads! In season, the plump mussels are mounded with spicy chorizo. If you love creme caramel, it’s worth saving room for their version with white chocolate and popcorn.
Food Day Canada Menu 2016
Zucchini blossom, black peanuts, chili, cold pressed canola oil $8.99
Pairings: Cave Spring Riesling, Unibroue La Fin du Monde
Cucumber Cooler: Victoria gin, mint, cucumber, tonic water
Cured Wild Salmon
Preserved ramps, farmer’s cheese, ox-eye daisy capers, soft herbs, sourdough crumbs $11.99
Pairings: 13th Street Chardonnay, Steamwhistle Pilsner
Smoked Caesar: house smoked vodka, Walter’s caesar mix, pickled Ontario garlic scapes
Smoked Lamb Saddle
Sweet peas, corn, morel pickle, chive flowers, sumac roasted potatoes $31.99
Pairings: Flat Rock Pinot Noir, Harvest Ale ‘Taste of Ontario’,
Cherry Sumac Swizzle: Newfoundland screech, sumac ginger syrup, cherries, soda
Wild ginger and lentil shortbread, maple, thyme, goat’s milk crème fraiche $7.99
Pairings: Ravine Vidal Ice Wine, Muskoka Brewery Detour,
Canadian Old Fashioned: centennial 10 yr rye, Elmira maple syrup, bitters
All 4 courses available in a tasting menu format with the addition of an amuse bouche and palette cleanser $55/ person
Miijidaa café + bistro is one of about 250 restaurants that celebrate Food Day across Canada. Contact them at the number below to reserve a table.
Miijidaa café + bistro est l’un des 250 restaurants à travers tout le Canada qui participent au Journée des terroirs. Contactez Miijidaa café directement, au numéro ci-dessous, afin de faire votre réservation
Miijidaa café + bistro
37 Quebec Street,
Guelph, ON N1H 2T1
T: 519 -821-9271