First Impressions will be a new series I am starting about ..you guessed it! First Impressions!
We are all a huge fan of The Ancaster Old Mill so we decided to check out Earth to Table Bread Bar on Locke Street. They are also the owners of Spencer's at the Waterfront, Cambridge Mill & Elora Mill. With such high end establishments we were expecting a great meal!
Unfortunately, the start of the night was a little rocky (we'll get to that later). For now, lets focus on the food. My starter was the pan roasted octopus with potatoes, chorizo, arugula olives, garlic and chick peas. The octopus was cooked to absolute perfection. It was perfectly cleaned so you didnt't have any tough chewy skin and I could practically pull it apart with my fork. The dressing on the poatoes and the olive oil and garlic made a perfect addition to the peppery arugula.
Kandi ordered the arugula, watermelon and feta salad . I know in the picture it looks like they really went cheap with the melon but Kandi reassured me there was plenty of melon under the mound of arugula. I had a few bites and will definitely consider ordering this if I return.
The drinks came shortly after the appetizers. We were a little shocked when the server walked over with half a grapefruit and a juicer. If we're expected to juice our own grapefruit juice for the grapefruit gin & tonic, why did it take so long to get to the table? Although I thought it was a cute idea, and a great way to guarantee you're getting the freshest juice possible (and the kitchen saves on labour cost too), I wish they had offered a wet napkin at the end, just so you don't have to continue the rest of the night with sticky fingers. My wasabi caesar was great though, you could definitely taste the wasabi!
I had the prosciutto & arugula, Kandi ordered the Meat Mountain - pepperoni, bacon, sausage, salami & hot peppers, and Nancy got the Fennel Sausage - red onion, fennel sausage, scallions & fried sage.
So, after those amazing starters we had high hopes for the pizza. Sadly, we were disappointed. The dough wasn't even - too thin, in the middle and the crust too thick. I wish they had offered scissors (like at Bucca in Toronto) cause then you could at least cut through the pizza to make it easier to eat. But with how soggy the pizza's were in the middle, that would have been a big mess too! We had trouble cutting slices of it to eat with our hands cause it was way too floppy and when we tried eating with a knife and fork, the knife barely cut through the crust.
I was looking forward to folding my pizza in half but it was just too soft, I ended up just rolling it up (literally) and smashing it into something I could fit into my mouth. A good pizza should be able to literally stand on its own and not flip over like an elephants trunk! Especially $14 for a pizza, you expected more.
The company is huge on farm to table cooking and Chef Jeff Crumb was one of the first to bring the slow food movement to Ontario so I wasn't surprised by the quality of the ingredients (we knew it was going to be top notch), just the execution.
Here are some of the issues we ran into in the beginning. After waiting for about forty or so minutes we notice an empty table and with everyone else already seated we assume they'll come out and seat us right away. They didn't. I think, maybe they still need to clear it? It's already been cleared. I think, maybe all the servers are busy and can't seat us right away. In comes a server making the rounds looking for something to do. Hmmm okay, at this point we're all thinking, what the hell? It's been over thirty minutes, everyone else has been seated and there is clearly a table ready! At this point, we all decide to just look at the menu (displayed on the window) so we know exactly what we want once we're seated.
My first drink choice, the rhubarb bellini, server says its no longer on the menu, same goes for my second choice, I finally settle on the wasabi caesar. We quickly realize the menu on the window differs from the menu offered at the table. Not happy. When it came to the appetizer I originally settled on the locally cured meats - sold out. Okay, then how about some french fries for the table? - sold out. Alright, pan roasted octopus it is!
As for the main, I decided on the Smoked Salmon stone Baked pizza, but that was no longer on the menu as well so I opted for the Proscuitto & Arugula instead.
I love the idea of offering local fresh ingredients, but please at least update your menu accordingly! At this point you can say we were all pretty peeved!
Conclusions: I understand sometimes people have bad days and maybe I was wrong to expect some of the qualities of their higher end establishments to trickle down. Maybe the cook working the pizza station was having a bad day and it showed in the product? Also, for all I know, the person responsible for updating the menus could have called in sick that day! Either way, what I do know is the ingredients are fresh, the menu is creative (come on, rhubarb bellini?) and they go local and/or organic where ever they can - even on the dessert menu! The concept of this place is a great one and hopefully we'll have a more pleasant experience the next time we come in. Apparently they have a Fried Chicken Friday? - you know I have a soft spot for fried chicken!
Earth to table Bread Bar
258 Locke Street South