Not sure if I’ve mentioned it in this space before but I built a wood-burning oven last summer. Their house-built specimen was the first thing that drew me to Woodlot, the new restaurant just south of College on Palmerston. You’ll be able to assess how much trouble your dining companions got in over the last five years depending on how fondly they remember that this location used to house Octopus Lounge.
The Woodlot menu has four sections: appetisers, pastas that come in either a large or small size, mains, and desserts. A photo of the draft menus (they have a vegetarian one as well) was posted on Twitter by @foodie411. Menus divided this way can be confusing so I’ll offer the strategy that a couple will not be disappointed by sharing three plates from the appetiser and pasta categories and one main. Also note that the small pasta option will satisfy most appetites unless it is all you’re eating.
From the appetisers the beef crudo and the smoked whitefish and potato salad were both very good but the braised lamb tart is the true home run. The flavours are deep and rich and the braised meat set on top of the flaky pastry creates welcome contrast. I could eat this once a week until April at least.
The potato gnocchi, while good, was probably the only dish I wouldn’t try again. This was partly because I found the pieces of chestnut in the sauce distracting but also because the other pastas, the pappardelle with boar ragu and the agnolotti of pork, rabbit, and veal were so good. Both offer a balance of meaty flavour and the texture of very well executed fresh pasta.
The porchetta might be a good emblem for everything that is good about pork cookery. The ample amount of skin (with it’s attendant pork fat) will mean that even those as addicted to pig as I am will be willing to share wit the rest of the table. The venison pie has been raved about (and sold out) so much that I think it’s probably worth a shot and I’ll be interested to hear what you think of it.
The bread that is coming out of the wood-fired oven, particularly the excellent white sourdough baguette, deserves its own mention.
The only dessert I have tried is the very good lemon tart with roasted marshmallow and wild blueberry. Prompted by the context I foolishly pondered out loud what the difference is between a marshmallow and a meringue. My tablemate, whose wits were less affected then mine, pointed out that of course a meringue has egg whites while a marshmallow is set by gelatin.
For some excellent chef-ly history and a minor dose of name dropping (mine included) take a look at Corey Mintz’s post about Woodlot. Also, she claimed on Twitter to have taken them with a camera hidden in her coat but somehow the photos in Kristina Groeger’s post are much better than mine.
It is still early days for this restaurant so please don’t take this post as a review. The space is fairly small so I’d definitely recommend reservations especially after seven on weekends.
Update: I was back at Woodlot in January and have another post up about more of the menu at that point.
Woodlot Restaurant and Bakery; 293 Palmerston Ave.; 647-342-6307.