Neruda is a sonnet about local ingredients in restaurant form, perhaps one written by poet Pablo Neruda about his native Latin surroundings.
The menu pays homage to Latin American as well as Mediterranean and Middle Eastern cuisines. Almost all items utilize their world’s longest open fire grill and one of the largest dry age rooms in Canada.
Both are visible almost immediately upon entry to the sprawling former Carters Landing space.
Wraparound windows that can optionally be opened look out on the waterfront, and there’s a patio outside.
The dry aging room with transparent walls displays all-Ontario beef, lamb, pork, and cured ham in process, plus Quebec duck.
A 32-ounce cote de boeuf ($145) has been aged around 40 days, big enough for two and simply flavoured by the smoke and precise heat of the grill along with a little salt to bring out the pure flavour of the beef sourced from Sault Ste. Marie.
Pick any sauce and any side to go with steaks from the wood fire grill. A shallot demi glace emphasizes the simple but bold flavours nicely, adding extra richness and moisture.
Wood fire roasted greens ($14) have the distinction of being vegan, and definitely need the provided lemon and salt to add flavour to their dense fibrousness.
Herb confit heirloom baby potatoes ($8) are a little more middle-of-the-road with crispy skins and fragrant seasoning.
Mac and cheese ($11) is just straight-up goodness, ooey gooey with stretchy, zesty cheese and toasty breadcrumbs.
The Beverley Creek lamb rack ($48) holds its own alongside the beef, aged 21 days and incredibly tender, served with a bright chimichurri that brings in the Latin influences.
Pick any side to go with meats like the lamb, sauteed wild mushrooms ($14) turning out to be one of my favourite options with lots of buttery, earthy mushroom flavour.
Though the sides are solid, coconut and curry squash stew ($26) and two other vegan mains ensure herbivores won’t have to cobble a meal of accompaniments together. Pickled and sous vide hearts of palm add an element of acidity and surprise to a medley of three kinds of creamy squash cooked sous vide and in the pan.
A tropical tart ($11) fills a black sesame shell with passionfruit curd and tops it with nutty candied black sesame, kiwi, and dragonfruit, with a pineapple sorbet on the side.
$15 cocktails are named for Neruda’s exes, like Matilde’s Caesar with pepper-infused vodka, house clamato, and smoked shrimp and pepperette garnishes, ideal for all-you-can-eat brunches.