Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Wilks' Bar at Langdon Hall: Inspired Regional Cuisine

Just an hours drive from Toronto, I've spent many memorable weekends with both friends and family at Langdon Hall, blissfully enjoying their spectacular spa, playing croquet on the crisp manicured lawns, relaxing in the tranquil secluded outdoor pool, exploring the impressive chef's kitchen garden, and of course indulging in Langdon Hall's exceptional award-wining cuisine. For the past year, the elegant country estate hotel has also had an extraordinary new executive chef, the superbly talented Jason Bangerter, who has now transformed the cuisine at Langdon Hall to another level of glory within a very short period of time. On our way to visit friends in London, we made a special point to stop by Langdon Hall for a light lunch at Wilks' Bar. In addition to an inspired new menu, the cozy room has also recently undergone an impressive makeover with comfortable new upholstered leather seating, plush celadon green carpeting and impressive wine list with many offered by the glass, like the delicious Villa Locatelli Pinot Bianco I enjoyed with lunch.  

A creative selection of unique serving pieces set the stage for fabulous dishes such as the Potted Chicken Liver Paté with Elderberry & Thyme Jelly, which arrived on a natural wood serving board as well as crisp white luncheon plates that provide a canvas for the artfully composed baby lettuce and edible flower garnished salads such as the Marinated Ricotta & Sweet Pea Salad with wild mint, arugula. The restaurant has long been known for its regional cuisine, using the 75 acre estate that it sits upon as inspiration for the menus. Bangerter sees coming to Langdon as part of his natural progression towards showcasing more local foods and working more closely with local farmers. Add with Langdon Hall's on-site kitchen garden, apple orchard, maple trees and honey production, Chef Bangerter is like an excited child in an edible playground. "With so much at my fingertips, the sky's the limit as to what can be done here. It’s a chef’s dream."

Wilk's Bar summer menu

A spectacular Shamrock Spider Chrysanthemum with fresh lavender

House churned fresh butter garnished with Maldon salt

Langdon Hall's house made baked bread

An Italian Villa Locatelli Pinot Bianco from Fruili is one of a selection of wines offered by the glass

Straw yellow with fruity aromas and a pleasant stony minerality, the wine was elegant and well-balanced

Yalumba Y Series Shiraz Viognier 2012 from South Australia

Medium bodied in taste and deep crimson in colour, this wine had an exotic mix of aromas with a round and soft finish

Potted Chicken Liver Paté with Elderberry & Thyme Jelly, Spring Vegetables “à la Greque”
and Sourdough Crisps

Fried Wild Smelts with Sauce Gribiche, Malt Vinegar, Fried Heirloom Potato and Lovage

Traditional Cod & Chips with local watercress, house made tartar sauce and celeriac rémoulade

House made ketsup for the frites

Marinated Ricotta & Sweet Pea Salad with wild mint, arugula in a preserved lemon vinaigrette

Buttermilk Scones
Makes about 12 scones
Recipe courtesy of Executive Chef Jason Bangerter, Landgon Hall

500g/17.76 oz all purpose flour
105g/3.7 oz granulated sugar
22g/.77 oz baking powder
250ml/1 cup buttermilk, plus extra for brushing
3/4 lb butter, cold and cubed

Preheat oven to 350°F. Prepare a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. In a medium bowl, sift together the flour, sugar, and baking powder. With your hands gently combine the flour mixture and cubed butter, rubbing them between your fingers. Combine until butter is coated with flour and starting to break up or crumble. Slowly pour the buttermilk in while mixing. Mix until batter is crumbly and milk is incorporated. Turn batter onto a floured service, and form into a ball. Roll the batter out to a 1-inch even thickness round. Portion scones into triangles or circles, and place on parchment lined tray. Place scones in fridge for 20 minutes, until chilled and firm. Brush scones with buttermilk and sprinkle with sugar. Bake 12-15 minutes or until puffed and golden on the bottom. Enjoy warm from the oven with butter or clotted cream and berry preserves, as part of a traditional afternoon tea.