You may have heard of Nota Bene before, as it is one of Toronto’s top restaurants. I also crossed it off my 2012 Restaurant Resolution list and had the opportunity to experience the excellence it is known for. Thus, I was delighted when they invited me to come by and review their special dish of Suckling Pig and Boudin noir Tart that pops up on their menu on occassion. They are currently featuring the dish until February 8, 2012.
Upon seeing pictures on Flickr of this dish, I was a bit petrified because it looked like it was a serving for 10 people. Additionally, we were having many other items on the menu. My dining companion, Kerri, has many allergies so due to that we got the Boudin noir Tart (blood sausage) on the side.
What resulted was a beautiful and creative presentation of the Suckling Pig on a wooden cutting board. To say this was a work of art was an understatement. If you check the site under news and events, it’s presented as one big pie. As they knew, it was two (lovely) ladies sharing the menu in addition to eating the rest of the menu (basically — more on that in another post), they cut up the tart into four to five mini sections so they looked like mini desserts.
The pig was plentiful and glazed with truffle vinaigrette (if you know me, truffle anything is one of my favourite indulgences in the world).
On to the TASTE: this was pretty much the climax of our Food Coma. The suckling pig was layered on top of each other sitting on a puffy pastry tart, which rounded out the heaviness of the pig and added a flaky texture to its taste. It was then topped with a chewy maple bacon and topped with–get ready….–pork rind! So you’ve got:
chewy maple bacon and succulent dense suckling pig
puffy dense pastry on the tart
and a crunchy, slightly spicy pork rind
= WIN WIN WIN!!!
In retrospect, I’m glad the Boudin noir was served on the side, as I think it would have been too strong for me if it was served as part of the dish. As it’s blood sausage, it had a very strong and heavy density and flavour. I liked the suckling pig on its own.
FOR THE TABLE
A few of the sides that we had for the table were the pommes frites with pecorino and the shaved onion rings with sea salt. I wasn’t as big of a fan of the pommes frites. I think there were many more interesting sides to choose from. It was probably us waiting but the pecorino wasn’t melted on the frites either. But those onion rings were quite addictive. Sea salt was a genius topping on the rings and because they were thin and crispy, they were very easy to gobble up!
It was great fun to have a sommelier pair a red wine with this dish. She chose the Brunello di Montalcino, which translates from Italian to “small dark one.” Thank goodness for Google, I later found out that this wine is Tuscany’s best known red wine and was such a great fit with our dish. Our sommelier was excellent and explained the flavours, stories and tidbits about our wine in order to make our meal even more memorable than it was.
If you have the appetite and are an adventurous eater, I HIGHLY recommend getting this dish. This truly is a food lover’s dish and not as easily replicated at home. What a memorable dish. I can see why it’s so popular! If you’re into treating your sweetheart to a decadent dish, this is a great pre-Valentine’s dinner (a nice surprise given that the restaurant won’t be as crowded on this date compared to V-day). As I would say: RUN don’t walk and let me know if you try it!
And if you have a chance, check out Nota Bene’s Facebook page for updates and specials.