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Tasting Menus: A Foodie's Dream

Tasting menus are becoming part of the food scene in Hamilton more and more, and they are a delightful opportunity for the foodies everywhere to enjoy some creative food and drink pairings at reasonable costs. Price fixed dinners are really about the chef and restaurant showcasing their creativity, skill-set and passion for food; and you can feel the passion in every bite. They are amazing culinary experiences that always leave me dreaming of the chef’s combinations and creativity.

Tasting menus give you the opportunity to try more food!

Each course is usually a smaller portion than a typical appetizer or main, tasting menus usually consist of 5-7 courses of smaller, more creative dishes, that aren’t on the regular menu. They are a way to let go of that nagging decision of what to order off the menu, and you will probably try dishes that you can’t even imagine.

The food and drink pairings are always interesting!

I am that person who has to know what my friends are eating before I will pick a bottle of wine. This usually means a long conversation at the table with a lot of back and forth and menu reading (it sounds great right?). With tasting menus, each course is paired with a 2-3 oz pour of something delightful, that has been picked out to match the food you are eating. This is magical to me, and if you haven’t thrown caution to the wind and tried this kind of experience, you are missing out!

Chefs showcase their passion for food!

Let’s face it: a chef is a creative being- that’s why they have chosen their craft. Sometimes the monotony of cooking the same menu items day in and out can get tedious. Tasting menus give chefs the opportunity to get creative, make a new dish, and test it out for a group of food lovers. It is usually mutually beneficial, and I always want to be there for the experimentation!

I recently had the pleasure of attending Nique Restaurant’s price fixed menu in partnership with Pearl Morisette and Burdock Brewery and am still dreaming of the food and drink combinations that danced in my mouth. This was a show stopping experience with 7 courses with beer and wine to match.

Chef Harrison was happy to announce the new Chef joining Nique's team- Chef Canny Leang (@_kingcanny) and it was an amazing announcement, given he was responsible for my favourite dish of the evening!

My favourite Dish:

The second course was a squid ink, octopus and avocado. This was a deep fried octopus set on an avocado crema and squid ink cream, along with roasted peanuts. Thai inspired, the octopus was cooked perfectly-it was tender and delicious. The accompaniments on the dish created balance, texture, an earthiness from the squid ink, and acidity from the avocado cream. It was delicious and we begged that it be put on the Nique menu!

My favourite Wine Pairing:

The 6th course was a coppa (pork) with a whipped potato that paired excellently with the Pearl Morrisette Cab Franc. For me, Cab Franc and grilled pork are a match made in heaven, and this pairing was no exception. The silkiness of the cab franc with dark fruit and a good amount of earthiness matches the umami flavour of the pork.

My favourite Beer Pairing:

Believe it or not, the beer paired with dessert was my favourite. I know most don’t think of a beer paired with dessert, but this wasn’t any ordinary beer. This sour dark ale that sits in cab franc barrels and skins has a sour cherry cola flavour profile. Paired with the Parsnip and white chocolate semi-fredo, it was a perfect compliment to one another like ying and yang, and not too sweet.

Other Tasting Menus Around Town

The Heather (@theheather357) on Barton Street in Hamilton, Chef Matthew Cowan and his wife create an amazing culinary experience in a small 12-seat restaurant with a 7 course tasting menu that changes all the time. It is a fantastic experience that allows Chef Matt to showcase his creativity and skills. The experience is intimate and personal; it is a great date night Thurs-Sunday evenings.

Brux Brewhouse (@bruxhouse) located on Locke St. in Hamilton, has done some amazing beer and food tasting menu events. I haven’t had the opportunity to attend yet, but am looking forward to the next opportunity.

The General Hamilton is the latest brainchild of Neon Pink Hospitality Group (Nique) that will be opening in late summer/early fall. I can't wait! We can expect more tasting menu opportunities at both Nique and this new spot! An amazing addition to the already creative and expert group of chefs that have flocked to Hamilton.

Want to learn more about wine and food pairings? Why not join me and host your next food and wine event. Gather your friends and family and let's drink some wine. Follow me on Instagram @NewAgeNonna or email me at

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