Casual fine dining restaurant Bolete, run by Chef Andrew McLeod, is located in the heart of downtown St Catharines. Their focus is an ever-changing seasonal menu of modern Canadian cuisine.
My visit to Bolete was fairly impromptu. For once I had no plans, so when a friend suggested Friday lunch I jumped at the chance to check out this place.
From previously walking past Bolete on St Paul Street in downtown St Catharines, I hadn’t really got a sense of what the interior would be like. I was pleasantly surprised to find a large open-plan space with a calming modern minimalist colour scheme and an open kitchen with bar seating running the width at the back of the restaurant.
The walls in shades of white with sections of exposed brick are paired with a rustic-style wood bar. The interior is the perfect backdrop for the dramatic artworks adorning the walls, which I recognize immediately as the work of hip local artist Tamara Jensen.
Our server was friendly and attentive. He was very knowledge about the food and wine and offered great advice on pairing, which I find such a bonus when enjoying a beautifully prepared meal.
The staff at Bolete were very understanding of my gluten allergy and the chefs were happy to substitute ingredients. They even had good quality gluten-free bread to serve as we sat down.
We started our lunch by sharing an Ancient Grains & Inari at the suggestion of our server. Made with quinoa, black rice, lap sang, aged cheddar and pomegranate, I wasn’t sure what to expect from this dish as I associate Inari with traditional Japanese flavours. However, it was delicious and wholesome tasting with well balanced flavours of the cheese and fruit.
For main course, my lunch partner had the Salt and Pepper Humboldt Squid with ginger mayo, chilli, cilantro and togarashi (a Japanese pepper), which she said was well-seasoned and fried to perfection.
I savoured every moment of my gluten-free and vegan pasta dish, which was perfect for the cold wet day that we visited, with just the right amount of heat from fresh chillis, meaty mushrooms and tart rapini.
I paired my dish with a 2014 Pinot Noir from The Farm Winery in Jordan, which only produce Pinot Noir. This is a great example of finding one thing you do really well and excelling at it. The wine was a treat and the perfect pairing to my pasta.
We left Bolete feeling full and happy. The portions here were surprisingly generous for a fine dining restaurant and I found the prices reasonable, with nothing on the lunch menu over $18 at the time we visited.
I look forward to dining here again soon, next time to try the dinner menu.
Location 176 St Paul St, St. Catharines, ON L2R 3M2