Ursa at Queen St. West

Posted on February 13, 2012


I met brothers Jacob and Lucas Sharkey Pearce late summer last year at 99 Sudbury while doing an assignment for CityBites.  On that short time that I spent to check out 99 Sudbury, I got into a lengthy conversation with Lucas how they strive to incorporate nutrition into the dishes they create.  This extra mile they do give the people who get to enjoy their cuisine to walk out content and satisfied.   I was in awe during the conversation witnessing how passionate they are of the subject. Although they use forward cooking techniques, it should not be misconstrued to thinking they do molecular gastronomy. What they do is that they use science to take full advantage of the nutrition each part of the dish would give.

That conversation has left good impression on me and I have followed the progress of Jacob and Lucas.  I have seen them while I attended Foodstock 2011 and at that time they have already spoke of opening a restaurant at Queen St. W by Shaw St.  That restaurant is now Ursa at 924 Queen St W.

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I suggested the restaurant to my friend, Valerie and we finally went last Saturday night.  Approaching the restaurant, I see a good attendance of people dining and lounging at the bar.  That looked so promising as the restaurant was only two weeks old.  I walk in and take note that the interiors of the place is contemporary with a hint of whimsy with the light fixtures dangling like a network of constellation. Valerie, who came minutes before me, tells me that there were no tables for a good hour as all tables were occupied.  One of the staff told us that we can opt to sit at the bar.  I had no problem with it as I see an area with ample light and space.  Sitting in the bar also gave me a good vantage point too that I can watch what was happening around me.

Perusing through the winter menu, my eye stopped at Whey Brined Niagara Pork Loin, Apple Cider Glazed Belly with Kale and Lentils.  I found the Valerie was also interested with the same item.  As we wait for our dinner, a bread platter arrived to tide us over.  The staff who brought it told us that the dairy items in the restaurant were in-house, including the butter that came with the bread.  If you want to know if the bread is good, all I can say is that we left no crumb left to spare.

As our dinner arrived, I spent some time taking pictures of my plate.  It was quite funny how Valerie just automatically waited for me, expecting me to take pictures of her own dish.  You know you have a good friend when you can torture them making them wait as I take pictures for my blog.  I say it was torture to wait as I could see how tender the Apple Cider Glazed belly seem to be.  It did not disappoint when I finally tasted it.  I can say the same thing of the Whey Brined Niagara Pork Loin, lentils and kale.  I was elated how each component on my dish danced in harmony in my mouth.  I make a perfect bite, slicing a bite of the belly, slather it with the purée it was sitting on and taking a tiny wee bit of the grainy mustard on the side.  When a staff came by to check up on us and asked how my meal was, the only word that came to mind was “ethereal”.  I don’t believe I have ever used that word for a pork dish before and it doesn’t seem right but it was how I was feeling.  I was perfectly content and cleaned off my plate to the last morsel.  I watched the staff walk away with an amused smile on his face.

Normally I would bypass desert but was very curious of one review I have read in yelp.ca .  A good part of that review talked about Ursa’s “Milk and Honey”.  Curiosity got the better of me and I ordered it.  After tasting the desert, I agree with that review.  This should be how you pacify your sweet tooth at the end of every meal.  In-house made ricotta, drizzled with honey, plated with honeycombs and dried fruit and two vials of whey brine gave a sweet boost without making you feel heavy and lethargic. It was soothing to bite into dried pear topped with ricotta and a slice of the honeycomb.

From start to finish, the experience was quite amazing.  I would surely be back again.  That feeling of contentment could be so addicting.

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