Anita Stewart’s Canada File: Scaramouche Restaurant & The Glen Tavern
By Anita Stewart
Giving credit where it’s due is important and it struck me that in laying out the articles for the months ahead, one restaurant in particular needed to be mentioned sooner than later.
Scaramouche Restaurant with its incredible team – General Manager Carl Korte and Executive Chef Keith Froggett — have been setting the bar as high as it gets in Toronto’s dining scene since it opened in 1980. Few other restaurants in the country have been showered with so many honours. The late lamented Gourmet magazine dubbed it Top Restaurant in Toronto twice! Given its staying power and coolly elegant hospitality, I’d suggest that it’s easily still in this league. All across North America, hot shot chefs come and go…they flash, flame and burn out. Mr. Korte and Chef Froggett are in it for the long term.
The impact that they have had on the food life of both Ontario and Canada has been immense. A list of their alumni read a bit like the who’s who of Canadian dining.
Keith Froggett’s menus been full to overflowing with Canadian ingredients forever. They reflect his “belief that less is more; that the finest ingredients classically combined result in a purity that transcends fads and fusion”. As Dr. Barbara Santich, co-founder of the Australian Symposium of Gastronomy writes in her classic book Looking for Flavour, “If a cuisine is to truly represent a region, it has to last longer than fashion.”
There are many reasons that set Scaramouche aside and, surprisingly, one is that it’s virtually two restaurants in a single setting – the more formal dining room with its fine linen and crystal and the hip Pasta Bar and Grill. Inhabiting the lower floor of one of Toronto’s first condominiums in the now-wealthy area bordering on Rosedale and Forest Hill, both have a spectacular view of the city. Nighttime at Scaramouche is magical.
With the super-talented Carolyn Reid as their long time Restaurant Chef and Scott Hildebrandt as the chef in the Pasta Bar and Grill, the menus are brilliantly crafted. The wine list is equally excellent. Almost since opening Sommeliers Peter Boyd and Ian Clark have been building the luxurious wine cellar with some of the best vintages that Canada has to offer as a counterpoint to many of the finest from around the world. This is the place to drink champagne.
Whether it’s a spoonful of B.C.’s Northern Divine caviar with crème fraîche; a platter of Prince Edward Island oysters; a bacon-wrapped venison loin with wild leeks or Pacific halibut with its mustard-herb breadcrumb crust and springtime morels, their menus speak to the absolute bounty of Canada. A word of advice, save room for their inspired desserts of Pastry Chef Junelle Casalan. Her mascarpone cheesecake is served with toffee sauce, buckwheat cake and sage ice cream…all the ice creams and sorbets are made in house. On the current menu there’s a ginger cake with poached rhubarb, moistened with vanilla syrup. And there’s always (thank goodness) their legendary coconut-white chocolate cream pie.
With such downtown success, it was a logical next step to launch a country cousin. In 2016, Benn Froggett, Keith’s son, and Chef Stuart Aylward opened The Glen Tavern in the village of Glen Williams about an hour northwest of Toronto. Once a busy mill town on the Credit River, Glen Williams has become one of the prettiest hamlets in southern Ontario thanks to the vision of a number of artistic entrepreneurs. On the park-like banks of the Credit River, where fly fishers cast their lines in search of brook and brown trout, steelhead and salmon, the downtown is a cluster of heritage homes and The Williams Mill, an amazing artists complex where you’ll find The Glen Tavern.
Growing up in the restaurant industry, host Benn Froggett ensures that the hospitality is the same…genuine and professional.
Chef Aylward comes from years in the Scaramouche kitchen and even brought with him some of the dishes he’d honed there. He also brought a very real understanding of contemporary Canadian cuisine. Just read the menu…”Ontario pork sweet-brined and grilled with crispy pressed potatoes, blistered cherry tomatoes, grilled endive and triple crunch mustard jus” or “Grilled Prince Edward Island pastured beef tenderloin, wild mushrooms, shallots, green beans, frites, red wine sauce, steak butter.” His penchant for using PEI grass fed beef continues through to the burger where he hand cuts the beef before grilling it then topping it Bright’ Cheese Company’s Asiago, double-smoked bacon and pickled red onions. The first dessert on the menu is one that people drive across Toronto to enjoy, the one and only Scaramouche coconut cream pie!
1 Benvenuto Place
Toronto, ON M4V 2L1u
T: 416 961 8011
The Glen Tavern
515 Main Street,
Glen Williams, Ontario L7G 3S9
Anita Stewart is the Food Laureate for the University of Guelph and founder of Food Day Canada. She holds a graduate degree in Gastronomy from Le Cordon Bleu/University of Adelaide and is a Member of the Order of Canada. She lives in Ontario. (The salmon in the photo was guided by Mark Stewart of East West Charters in Campbell River, B.C.)