Back on our Holiday Recap post, we mentioned going out to Pepperwood Bistro in Burlington, Ontario for a fare-well dinner for our cousin Geoff/us going back to school the next day.
In that post, we didn’t go into extensive detail about the restaurant because it was so good that we felt it deserved it’s own spot on the blog. Our first impression of the restaurant was how nice the outside was. I mean just look at that picture! It would be a wonderful patio for lunch or dinner on a warm day. Of course, it was anything but warm, so we headed on inside. Well, if the interior of the place was going to be any indication of the food we would be eating, we knew we were in for a treat! It was so classy and sophisticated, from the dark hard wood interior to the funky paintings on the wall – so fabulous!
And now to the important part – the food. Many restaurants serve you bread and butter before your meal. Some of the more up-scale or Italian ones serve you olive oil and balsamic vinegar and some kind of crusty bread. Some offer you herbed or flavoured butter. Not at Pepperwood, no. At Pepperwood, they serve you thin slices of crusty multi-grain french bread with hummus sitting in olive oil and balsamic vinegar. We could have left right then and been satisfied, happy customers, because you already know of our love for hummus.
Of course, we didn’t leave. 😉
The menu was not overly extensive, which in our opinion is a good indication of quality food. (quality>quantity people!) In our past experiences, places with shorter menus take more time and care into the planning and preparation of each menu item. Not to mention they are usually somewhat seasonal and will have some different options every time you go! Everything on the menu sounded so delicious, it was hard to choose! In all honesty, we were there with a large group of people (9 to be exact), and we would have been happy with any of the items each of our family members ordered. The food is that good.
Jordan ordered the Genovese Pizza:
Prosciutto, Genoa salami, marinated artichokes,
roast garlic, pickled onions, mozzarella, tomato sauce
Dad and Aunt Dianne ordered one of the specials, a pasta dish. All we can remember (other than it being delicious- we sampled, it was awesome) is that it had large chunks of lobster, asparagus, mushrooms, and cooked cherry tomatoes in some kind of white sauce. Di-vine!
Brendan had the meat special of the day, a chicken stuffed with goat cheese and spinach which came with vegetables and another side which we can’t remember. Whatever it was, Brendan gave it two thumbs up!
Geoff ordered the Steak Frites:
…Hand cut and specially aged Reserve
Angus New York striploin steak with fresh‐cut Yukon Gold
frites, pickled lemon aïoli, pink peppercorn and red wine
sauce “au poivre”
Aunt Dianne’s sister ordered the Ravioli:
Artisan butternut squash stuffed ravioli, pancetta
and baby spinach cream sauce, Marsala wine, sautéed sweet
bell pepper. – Butternut squash, people! You can’t go wrong!
Ourselves and our Mom all ordered the same thing, the Gravlax Salad!
Sweet shaved fennel, baby arugula, mustard and pink
peppercorn emulsion, oven dried tomato, fresh dill, orange and gin‐
cured Bay‐of‐Fundy salmon gravlax.
Oh.My.Word. This salad was to die for! For those of you who don’t know, gravlax is smoked salmon encrusted with herbs. We had never tried it before, but it is now one of our favourite foods! You know how we love our smoked salmon. Don’t ask us where the name “Gravlax” came from, we don’t know! Personally, we think it sounds like a combination of Gravol and Exlax – not at all appetizing and certainly not appropriate for eating, but trust us, it’s delicious!
A few desserts were ordered – apple crumble with cinnamon ice cream (for dad), and the goat cheese cheesecake. Can you say decadent? Five stars, folks, five stars!
But enough about cheesecake, back to the salad! (#saidnooneever)
Seriously though, this salad changed our lives! So much so, that we vowed to remake it. Unfortunately, gravlax is way out of our student budget, so we had to improvise a little.
Smoky herb-crusted salmon salad with sundried tomatoes, shaved fennel and fresh dill in a dijon cracked-pepper emulsion. We feel very hoity-toity writing that. Excuse us while we observe expensive art at the gallery while we wait for Froufrou to be finished her daily grooming at the pet salon…
Can we just go ahead and pat ourselves on the back for this one? Because we nailed it – this salad brought back every delicious memory of Pepperwood Bistro with each bite!
So if you’re ever in Burlington, we highly recommend you go to Pepperwood Bistro. If you live no where near Burlington, we highly recommend you make this salad. Bon appetite!
Herb-crusted Salmon Salad
Prep time: 10 min + marinating time
Cook time: 10-12 min
For the Salmon:
2 frozen boneless, skinless salmon fillets, thawed
2 Tbsp liquid+enough water to submerge each filet
1 Tbsp Rosemary
1 Tbsp Thyme
1/4 tsp salt
For the Salad:
2 c. spinach, packed
1 c. arugula
3/4 c. fresh dill, roughly chopped
1/2 c. shaved fennel
4 sundried tomatoes packed in oil, blotted dry and sliced
5 tsbp lemon dijon emulsion (recipe below)
optional: goat cheese
Mix liquid smoke with water in a container, submerge salmon in this mixture and allow it to soak for at least 30 minutes in the fridge.
Preheat the oven to 350F.
Mix rosemary, thyme, salt and pepper in a wide bowl. Press salmon fillets into this mixture, making sure both sides are covered with herbs.
Heat a drop of oil on a pan over medium-high heat. When the oil is hot, place salmon on the pan and cook just until the outsides are slightly blackened (about 2 minutes on each side) The goal here isn’t to cook the fish all the way through, just to blacken the outside.
Place the fillets on a tray and bake in the oven for 10-12 minutes, or until cooked through.
For the Salad: Mix all ingredients except for the dressing in a large bowl. Pour in the dressing and toss the salad until everything is evenly coated. Divide amoung 2 plates and top with salmon and goat cheese (if using).
1/4 c. lemon juice
1/2 tbsp dijon mustard
1/2 tbsp yellow mustard
1 clove garlic, minced
1/4 tsp black pepper
pinch of salt
1/3 c olive oil
Place all ingredients except olive oil in a blender, food processor or spice grinder and blend until smooth. With the motor running, slowly pour in the olive oil and blend until fully combined.
Have you ever been to a restaurant and had a meal so good you just had to recreate it at home? What restaurants have you been to that have knocked your socks off? (We’re always looking for new places to try! 😉 )