Top Chef Canada season 2.1

In July of this year, a restaurant called Fable opened in the intimate space that had been vacated by Refuel, next door to Maenam. The man behind Fable was Trevor Bird, a contestant on season two of Top Chef Canada. Despite having less experience than many of the competitors, Trevor was doing well. Some thought that perhaps he had won the competition, which comes with a $100,000 prize and a GE Monogram kitchen worth $30,000.

Not so. Trevor came in second. But he still managed to open the restaurant, working with Curtis Luk, a fellow competitor, as his chef de cuisine.

Sweetie and I first went to Fable at the end of June, about three weeks after it had opened. We weren't blown away, but we were impressed with the quality of both the food and the service. The highlight of that meal was a slow-cooked salmon that melted in your mouth. And the small room was very welcoming—lively but not too noisy, with an open kitchen. We saw Trevor as soon as we walked in, and Curtis was hard at work behind the bar.

That first meal was only a day after I had sliced off the tip of my finger on the Friday of Canada Day weekend. My right ring finger sported a huge puffy bandage. Our second trip to Fable was two and a half months later. As the host greeted us, he said immediately, "How is your finger?" Now that is a great memory! One of the servers asked as well. How could we not feel like family at that point?

The second meal was outstanding from start to finish. We left feeling that we had found a replacement for the late, much lamented Cru, which had been our favourite place for a celebration or just for a great dinner.

One sig is almost legible!
So even though we had been to Fable only recently, when I saw a tweet about a "Top Chef Dinner" in which Trevor, Curtis, Trista Sheen, and Jimmy Stewart would each be responsible for one course of a four-course dinner, I lept to make a reservation. Trista, now executive chef at Crush Wine Bar in Toronto, had been one of our favourite contestants. Jimmy, who is the chef on the highly regarded Roaming Dragon food truck here in town, had gone a long way in the competition. We figure this was an opportunity not to be missed.

We were greeted by Trevor and his hosts at the door with a "welcome back." At our table were the menus for the evening, autographed by all of the chefs. We opted for the full monty—the meal with wine and beer pairings.

Trista opened with Scallops Ceviche served in a large scallop shell. The scallops, combined with grapes and yellow zucchini, with house-made fingerling potato chips on the side, paired with a Pinot Grigiot-style wine, made for a wonderful starter.

Jimmy followed with Duck Salad, made with heirloom tomatoes, duck confit, peaches, cucumber, and nasturtium flowers, with a lime dressing and a smear of pesto. The presentation was beautiful. The individual components were bright and fresh. The duck was very tasty! But the dish didn't quite come together, and the paired wine, a Riesling-Gevurztraminer blend, did not really help. We still enjoyed the course.

Curtis had taken the main. The "Red Braised" Beef Short Rib served with chestnuts, Asian greens, and rice pasta, was outstanding! And the Burrowing Owl 2008 Merlot that was paired with it might be the best Merlot I've ever tasted. Together, this made for a truly memorable course.

Trevor finished with dessert. This had made us nervous, because dessert had been the bane of Trevor's existence on the show. But the Bacon Apple Tart with Driftwood Farmhand Ale ice cream, paired with more Farmhand Ale, laid our fears to rest. The tart was tart, with just hints of bacon, and worked well with the ice cream. Despite the shared ingredient, the ale might not have been the best match, but it still worked reasonably well.

We couldn't help but do our best imitation of season two judges Mark McEwan and Shereen Arazm. We agreed that Curtis had won the night and would have even without the superb Merlot. We liked Trista's ceviche second best, followed closely by Trevor's tart and Jimmy's salad, but really, every course was a winner.

Curtis always seems to be busy, and Jimmy was occupied, but Trevor and Trista were doing a bit of mingling. Trista came by our table, and we chatted for a bit between courses. We were thrilled! She seems like a very nice person, and we certainly respect her skills in the kitchen. We've been thinking we should visit Toronto, maybe next summer, and Crush Wine Bar would definitely be a priority destination.

The Top Chef Canada dinner was a great idea and a very special evening, especially for anyone who had watched the show faithfully as we had. And once again, we felt that Fable was a place where we belong. From front of house to the kitchen, that's the kind of great job they're doing. We will surely be back before long to see what Trevor's fall/winter menu is like.

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