Food Porn: Windows by Jamie Kennedy

Alli and I don’t dine out in group-form too often, most of our restaurant adventures are just the two of us.  But every now and then it’s fun to meet up with a couple other friends or family members and have a good night of dinner and drinks.  About a month ago my friend Christa told me she was planning on taking a couple people up to Niagara Falls (Canada) to try out Chef Jamie Kennedy’s (no not this guy) new restaurant Windows and asked if I wanted in.

This wasn’t just any dinner party, we ended up going up to Canada with a group of WNY’s most talented chefs, a farmer and some other food writers.  Alli and I were honored to be invited to hang out with this group and even if the food was horrible we wouldn’t have cared less, we were just excited to be there.

Located in the Sheridan on the Falls, this restaurant is really off the radar (aside being located in the tourist trap of Niagara Falls, Canada).  We weren’t exactly familiar with the area or the hotel and every single person we asked about the restaurant had no idea what we were talking about.  The restaurant had only been open for a week or so when we visited and even though the dining room is small, other than  few other people, out group was the only diners there.  While it may lack in popularity at the moment, the view from the restaurant’s wall length windows of the Canadian side of the falls is gorgeous.

Quick Info:

For our meal we had a 5 course prix fixe menu which resolved around using really fresh, high quality ingredients with some classic techniques.  There weren’t any dishes that gave either Alli and myself a “what is that!” moment, however, we still had some “wow, I’ve never tasted that!” moments and the first and perhaps biggest was with our first dish.  To start off the meal was a Spring Salad of Soiled Reputation Greens with Easter Radishes and Sorrel Vinaigrette (above).  Normally, a salad wouldn’t be the highlight of a meal or anything I’d be excited about, but the radishes in this dish were insane and tasted more like a tart green apple then any radish I’ve ever had.  The vinaigrette had a nice flavor and the greens were fresh but it was those large thin slices of radishes that I’m still thinking about.

The following course was Smoked Whitefish Cake with Wild leek Tartare and Marinated Greens (pictured in gallery), simply put it was a fish fry done right.  The outer crust had a nice thin crunch that didn’t feel oily or greasy at all.  The leek tartare sauce had a really nice tangy flavor and the fish inside had a soft creamy texture of whitefish and potato.

Next we tried Jamie’s “World Famous Fries” (pictured above), sent out from the kitchen as a break from our prix fixe menu.  The fries were topped with some good seasoning but the texture however wasn’t as crispy as I would have liked.  There were two dipping sauces on the side; a sweet chili sauce and an apple cider mayo.  They were good fries but not “world famous” quality and I would still prefer Blue Monk’s duck fries any day.  A palate cleanser of Granite (a fancy icee made up of either green pepper or cucumber) followed before our main courses.

Our group had three choices for the main course; either duck, chicken cabbage roll or pickerel (fish).  I chose the Confit and Roasted Duck (pictured top) that was served with a sour cherry glaze on top of really good schmaltz roasted potatoes.  The flavor of the duck was wonderful but the texture was a little tough and didn’t match it’s pink appearance, it was rough to cut and chew.  Alli ordered the Chicken Cabbage Roll (pictured in gallery) with creme fraiche and dill.  She enjoyed the dish but I thought it was a little plain, the cabbage and slow cooked chicken tasted one in the same.  A couple of guests down the table tried out the Pickerel (pictured in gallery) and had nothing but great things to say about the dish and it was unofficially announced as the winning dish of the night.

For dessert we had a Chamomile Panna Cotta with Rhubarb Gelee and Julienne (pictured above).  For the uneducated eater it would have tasted like a really good custard with jello underneath, but little did I know how much work goes into pulling this dessert off properly.  For this last course I was sitting near two very talented chefs and listened intently as they were describing how good the dessert was and tried to figure out the methods behind the rhubarb julienne on top of the glass.  Alli and I consider ourselves eaters, we love to try new foods and share them with our readers but we are far from experts and rarely offer in-depth analysis.  It’s just not the way we experience our meals, we love just eating in the moment and try to be honest with the readers.  But watching these guys dissect this dessert and get excited about how the chef prepared the dish…it was a really cool moment.

The meal had some highs and lows for sure which normally is not a big deal for us, but when we’re spending some serious cash it can be a problem.  The salad, fish cake and dessert were all fantastic while the main course and ‘famous fries’ were just alright and a little flawed.  Again, that wouldn’t be a big problem if our meal cost $40, but for an $80 prix fixe menu I was hoping to walk away being very impressed with all of the food.  Regardless, the diner party made the trip worth it (huge thanks again to Christa for inviting us) and hanging out with people who know a lot more about food then I do is always a good thing.

Jamie Kennedy has a large task in front of him.  Niagara Falls is not necessarily a culinary destination and the tourist crowds are generally not looking for fine dining, especially dining that’s geared towards wowing with fresh ingredients instead of eccentric cooking techniques.  I obviously hope this works out, I’d love to see more renown chefs from Canada or the US start to take risks in that area.  Our visit also came a short 10+ days after they opened for business, so their food may be completely different in the coming months.  But with virtually no one knowing about the restaurant (not even in the casino connected to the hotel) and having to compete with a cheap tourist buffet (within sight), he has his work cut out for him.

Photo Gallery:

Windows By Jamie Kennedy on Urbanspoon

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