Have you taken advantage of SummerFeast (August 13th 2013 – September 1st 2013) yet? Did you know some of the finest restaurants in the Headwaters region are showcasing exceptional menus for visitors and residents and that this year, this year participating restaurants have been tasked with spicing up their SummerFeast menus with extra “Headwaters inspired” flavour, showcasing the rich local food culture? Participating restaurants are offering prix fixe menus for lunch ($20/ person) and/or dinner ($40/ person) – it’s a great way to try some new places at reasonable prices.
After spending quite a bit of time online perusing the options for a SummerFeast lunch (so many choices – Italian, Fusion, Bistro, Steak and Seafood, French, Pub Food to name but a few), I headed out on a sunny Saturday with my husband en route to Forage in Orangeville. Their SummerFeast prix fixe menus looked tempting – both for lunch and dinner and I loved the local focus of many of the ingredients (Woolwich Dairy cheese, Am Braigh Farm greens).
Chef/owner Matthew Jamieson and wife (and pastry chef) Wendy who opened Forage in a strip mall on First Street in late September 2012 are familiar to local foodies. Matthew was the chef/owner of Woodside Restaurant in the Hockley Valley until eight years ago when he and Wendy headed to the west coast where they worked and started a family – Matthew was the Head Chef and Wendy the Sous Chef at the Royal Victoria Yacht Club – until the spring of 2012. The Jamieson’s business partner is Jennifer Grant, the owner of Harmony Whole Foods Market (next door to Forage) – this partnership is reflected in the local, seasonal and, as far as possible, organic ingredients which are a big focus of the Forage menu (including the wine and beer/cider menu).
If you’re not familiar with the area, it’s easy to miss Forage, hidden away at the end of the Credit Creek Plaza North – I mean who expects “casual gourmet dining” in a strip mall?
The inside is nicely appointed, in dark tones and felt cozy …
but we chose to soak up what might be some of the last summer sun on the tiny patio area. Given it’s fairly close to Highway 10 and, well, in a strip mall facing a car park, the patio on a Saturday afternoon was surprisingly quiet and peaceful.
As we tried to decide what we would eat and being big beer and cider fans, we chose some local brews to accompany our meal.
Onto our starters. As soon as I saw the “local beets” with Woolwich Dairy goat cheese on the menu, I knew that I would have to fight my husband for it – we’re huge fans of that combination and this plate did not fail to disappoint.
The cheese was encrusted with pistachio nuts which gave a lovely element of crunch to the plate. The beets – gold, red and candy stripe – were flavourful and complemented the earthy goat cheese beautifully. Not to mention, it was a truly gorgeous plate!
I chose the chilled gazpacho for my starter.
A not-too-finely puréed gazpacho, this one offered a hint of spice tempered by the sour cream and cilantro topping. I might have liked some crunchy croutons on top of this as that’s how I prefer my gazpacho but I did enjoy this version as a light start to a meal.
For mains, my husband chose the porcini ravioli and smoked duck in a green peppercorn cream.
While the flavours of this dish were spot on, we found the cream sauce to be a little watery – it wasn’t creamy enough to stick to the pasta which was a shame. With the duck, the pasta, the sauce and some vegetables (some pretty heirloom carrots in there!), it was a meal in a plate and something a little different which we always appreciate.
I went a little bit more classic with the NY steak sandwich with masala mushrooms and house cut fries.
This was a nice plate – perfectly crisp on the outside and fluffy on the inside fries and a beautiful piece of meat, cooked perfectly medium, topped with earthy mushrooms with just a hint of sweetness. The baguette bread underneath made it a little difficult to eat elegantly but I managed ok with a knife and fork. Certainly it was a fancy steak sandwich.
The dessert menu was short but sweet (pun intended!) offering just three items. We couldn’t go past the key lime pie
and the fresh berry shortcake
Both were very well done – the key lime pie was not too sweet (could have been a tiny bit tarter but that’s personal preference) and its crust was so good – crumbly and buttery with a nice crunch. The shortcake was like summer on a plate – fresh berries and freshly whipped cream sandwiched between two lovely shortcakes that soaked up the berries and cream nicely. A pretty tasty way to end the meal.
Verdict? Most importantly, this experience would make me want to go back to eat at Forage should I find myself in Orangeville. The prix-fixe menu was definitely excellent value for money. Portion sizes were large (perhaps a little too large for some but again, personal preference) and the menu is a nice snapshot of the regular fare on offer at Forage. We have friends who live in Orangeville and we’ll definitely be recommending Forage to them. Forage seems like a nice place for a weeknight splurge without breaking the bank in a very friendly atmosphere.
163 First Steet
Orangeville, ON, L9W 3J8
Tel: 519 942 3388
Mardi Michels is a full-time French teacher to elementary school-aged boys and the author of eat. live. travel. write – a blog focusing on culinary adventures near and far. She has lived and worked as a teacher in Australia, Hong Kong, England, France and now calls Toronto home. As part of her job, she runs a cooking class twice a week for 7-13 year-old boys, Les Petits Chefs and Cooking Basics. She’s also a cook, baker, traveller, photographer, writer, Food Bloggers of Canada co-founder, Food Revolution Day Ambassador for Toronto and in her spare time (!) teaches French pastry classes (focussing on macarons) around Toronto.