If you’re looking for burgers and chicken wings at Biera, the restaurant inside Blind Enthusiasm brewpub, walk on by. You’re not going to find them here.
What you will find is inventive, exquisitely prepared food made with fresh, high-quality ingredients.
Culina Millcreek alumnus Christine Sandford is asking you to open your mind, trust with your heart, and allow her to introduce you to foods influenced by her Prairie upbringing and European wanderings.
Those wanderings include holding the chef position at In de Wulf, a Michelin-starred restaurant in Belgium, and acting as chef de partie in its offshoot, De Superette, in Gent.
The Belgian influence is widely apparent at Biera.
Sandford and her capable crew pickle and ferment in-season ingredients like devil’s club shoots, ramps, and fiddlehead ferns, and dehydrate and pulverize pungent herbs to infuse oils and vinegars.
They cure pork fat into lardo, make cheese, bake sourdough bread, and use processes that take days to complete so the diner can experience, in one bite, the sheer joy and passion of these unknowingly complex creations.
Sandford makes it look easy, but of course, looks are often deceiving. The zucchini plate is a fine example with colours and flavours so vivid, the collective ingredients look like a study in still life.
A bright and lively herb vinaigrette dresses green and gold squash blossoms, thin rounds of yellow zucchini, tender bright leafy greens, and fresh peas that snap and pop in your mouth like tiny, sweet, edible fireworks.
Even the bread and butter is worthy of an ode. Don’t make the mistake of rationing the accompanying spreads.
Heap high the lardo! Do not ration the cultured butter, or you will be left with the dilemma of ordering more bread and risk filling up before the next delectable dish arrives.
Like the beef tartare, a blend of various cuts, including the heart to add body, texture, and flavour, made even more luscious by a ring of mustardy smoked, rendered fat around the mound of expertly minced meat.
If you like your beef grilled, the “Korean cut” beef ribs should be an obvious choice. The thin strips are marinated in garlic and a house-made spicy Dijon oil, grilled and glazed with wort — the liquid extracted from the mashing process during the brewing of beer.
The ribs are accompanied by broccolini and delicate Hakurei turnips. If Sandford offered these spheres as a side dish, I wouldn’t…