This. Is. Haisai.

Haisai 01
Here’s what I knew going in:

  • A celebrated chef who had moved from metropolitan Toronto to a farm in rural Singhampton, ON
  • A prix-fixe, 10-course meal prepared with food culled exclusively from his farm, or those of his neighbours
  • A dining room for no more than 30 people
  • A restaurant built exclusively of local materials – clay, stone, wood, etc…

Haisai 20
Here’s what I didn’t know:

  • What was on the menu for the evening
  • How broken wine bottles can be such a versatile decorative element

This is Haisai.

Haisai 03
We weren’t sure what to expect as we arrived at the restaurant. Dressed a half-step above semi-casual, J and I sauntered inside and immediately noticed the building was constructed largely with clay, stone, and wood. With no bricks in sight, it had a rustic feel that lent itself perfectly to the surroundings – farmland as far as the eye can see. That said, while the restaurant is in the main part of town, it should be noted that Singhampton’s “main part of town” seemed to be a cluster of less than a dozen buildings, huddled around a rural highway intersection.

Haisai 17
Once inside, we took a quick peek at the adjoining bakery and its impressive collection of preserves. It’s also praised heavily for its breads, but there were none on hand when we arrived. The walls of the bakery are lined toward the top with mismatched broken dishes, and the ceiling lined with broken pieces of brightly coloured ceramic.

Haisai 18
Satisfied, we crossed the foyer into the dining area, and were told we could choose whatever table we like. Good thing we came early. We sat along the wall, not far from the front where the open kitchen and service were.

Haisai 16
Haisai does things differently, and it works wonders. Their clay walls and roof are supported by thick logs and beams, with carvings and etchings dancing over their surfaces. The light fixtures are broken wine bottles, planted into the ceiling alongside decorative ceramic teapots that have been blown up and transformed into shard-filled snakes slithering above diner’s heads. In the wall are embedded ceramics and stones, while art pieces decorate the fireplace and surrounding space.

Haisai 21

The tables and chairs are all individually-made and crafted from local wood sources, and each chair is covered with an animal skin for that soft, luxurious, animal-skin feel on your back. The napkins and wine glasses are marked with Haisai’s logo, while you drink water out of broken wine bottles, blown to ensure safety around the edges.

Haisai 14
But I digress.

Ladies and gentlemen, your menu for the evening:

Nova Scotia Oysters with Green Caviar:

Haisai 05
Seared Black Angus Beef Tongue with Farm Greens, Hempseeds, and Apple Cider and Herb Oil Dressing:

Haisai 06
Kohlrabi Soup with Roasted Piglet Belly Croutons:

Haisai 07

Pan-Seared Georgian Bay Lakehead Trout with Braised Lobster, Spinach Puree, Chervil and Lobster Sauce, and Parsnip:

Haisai 08

Pickerel Dumpling with Red and Golden Farm Beets and Tarragon Sauce:

Haisai 09
Apple with Cinnamon and Rum Sorbet:

Haisai 10

Roasted Duck Breast on Duck Gizzard Confit with Farm Mushrooms, Corn and Carrots:

Haisai 11

Roasted Rack of Lamb, Tomato Confit with Beans, Roasted Vegetables, and Potato and Squash Dumpling:

Haisai 12

Three-Cheese Platter with homemade Raisin Walnut Sourdough and Pear:

Haisai 13

Cognac-Chocolate Cake with Raspberry-Lavender Sorbet:

Haisai 15
An exquisite meal, it left us both very satisfied and very full. While it’s not cheap, it’s an experience all its own. I highly recommend it to anyone who enjoys good food. DO IT!

4 responses to “This. Is. Haisai.

  1. Does he grow Nova Scotia oysters? Just wondering.

  2. I believe the Oysters and Lobster were the only items he served not grown on his farm (or perhaps in ON).

  3. Is this the man that used to own Statlanders (sp?) Afraid I was a bit too young for it but have heard a great deal about it over the years and had heard he had opened up a restaurant somewhere that sounds similar, perhaps to this one?

  4. Pingback: Adorable Animals Never Tasted So Good | Excruciating Minutiae

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