Langdon Hall Hotel and Spa in Cambridge, Ontario is an idyllic destination to spend a day, or a weekend to celebrate special milestones, to spoil yourself and especially to dine. Celebrating it’s 30th Anniversary this year, and Number 4 on Canada’s Top 100 Restaurants, it is more the reason to plan a visit. Only an easy 90-minute drive west of Toronto, you will be treated to menus by veteran Chef Jason Bangerter, who has overseen the culinary operation for the last 6 years. It is not very often to meet a chef so passionate, so humble, so warm, so driven, and so talented.
We planned our short time at the hotel perfectly. We arrived early enough for our overnight stay that we could sample lunch, dinner and breakfast the next morning. The property is on 75 acres of land, and this allows Chef Jason and his staff to be inspired by their own regional vegetable gardens, the bee colonies and the forest just outside his kitchen for foraging wild edibles. Otherwise, he relies on the many talented, local farmers and foragers for his bounty. This makes for the tastiest, and freshest of produce that help to elevate not only the presentations but with the multidimensional flavour profiles. In the kitchen, his products are treated with the utmost respect and reverence. The chef also uses what is seasonal and at the height of their concentrated flavours.
Langdon Hall has not only reached Number 4 on Canada’s Top 100 Restaurants but also has won many other prestigious awards, like Rising Chef in 2015 for Relais and Chateaux, Iron Chef CANADA champ 2018, Best Farm to Table Chef in 2017, five-diamond restaurant awards and many other accolades.
Everything is pretty much made in house, from the butter to the bread, to the chocolate. His presentations are intricate and his executions are on point. It is difficult to pick his signature dishes because there were many. That is why I suggest doing a tasting menu on your first visit, as well as ordering a la carte for breakfast. We went during the summer season and had the “Summer Terroir” tasting. This is a 10 course, superbly polished menu. But the standouts for me were the Li’l wee eggs from down the way. Local farmers deviled hen eggs and topped with black truffles from Piedmont. I have been spoiled for life and can never have another deviled egg at this level. The Taste Summer, a course of vine-ripened tomatoes, (that were comparable to my best ever from the Amalfi area, or the organic farms of California), served in tomato water and anise herbs, along with a homemade tomato bread. Speaking of bread, the chef’s sourdough, made from 100-year-old mother starter, with freshly churned butter, or the honey butter made on the property, is pure heaven. Another memorable dish, is the bairdi crab, a creamed corn, and crab cooked in yeast butter and chickweed. It was sublime. The chef sent out a treat, his truffle soup, which isn’t on the tasting menu, but something that is almost always available. It is a dish he honed while working as chef of Auberge de Pommier, many years ago, and guests still request it. It is dense with puréed mushrooms and truffle oil topped with a truffle foam. All of the desserts were dreamy, but the peaches and cream really stood out as the fruit was at its height of flavor, and this was accompanied by a crème de pêche, and a wonderful lavender shortbread cookie.
All this served in a historic country house hotel, in an elegant dining room, with tablecloths, dim lighting, soft live piano music, a well-trained staff, and a cellar with a well-curated 1,700 labels.
Breakfast exceeded our expectations. The buffet table had some lovely selections with some croissants that rivaled ones from France. But the selections from the a la carte menu really impressed me. The lemon-scented flapjacks with wild blueberries, vanilla pastry cream, and Ontario tree syrup made me swoon, and the fried hen eggs, cooked perfectly to order with avocado, puffed grains and cilantro were vibrant to look at and palate-pleasing. I will never be able to eat steel cut oats again anywhere after the rendition at Langdon Hall. Chef Bangerter adds 70% dark chocolate, hemp seeds, candied pecans and banana, which ranked these oats as the best ever. The yoghurt parfait is outstanding, topped with sweet pineapple, passion fruit, coconut, lemongrass and dry sugared coriander. It was like eating a bit of Hawaii. Breakfast was definitely one of my all-time favourites, with each bite bringing a new appreciation for the perfect preparation and flavour pairings of each dish.
I also have to mention how lovely lunch was as well. On a nice summer day, eating under the trees in the garden, facing the pond. Ordering one of the creative craft cocktails and delighting in wonderful menu. But make sure you leave plenty of room for dinner. Or better yet, go for a swim, play some tennis or go on a hike on the property to work up an appetite.
There is reason this restaurant has garnered much acclaim, there is thought behind every dish and dining is a major event here. Definitely a culinary destination experience.