Sunday, September 27, 2009

The "F" Word and a Nipple-licious Bellini: Joey Don Mills Restaurant Opening and Interview with Chef Chris Mills

Sunday, September 27, 2009
Mark and I headed out to the opening party for Joey Don Mills this past week. I must start by saying The Shops at Don Mills are pretty neat - it was my first time there. I'll be back to check out McEwan's new supermarket soon... but I digress. Okay, so here's the view of the restaurant from the outside.

Now before I talk about the event and the restaurant itself, let me start by saying Chris Mills, the Executive Chef of Joey Restaurant Group, was pretty fun to interview. I got to chat to him on the phone before the actual event and he fully embraced my weird request to have him answer our "You + Food: 10 Questions" thread on our Facebook group, where I've posted his answers on his behalf.

The long and short of it is that I like to see Canadians like Chef Mills doing great things. Joey Restaurant Group has 18 locations spread throughout B.C., Alberta, Manitoba, and even Washington in the U.S. Chef Mills has a global perspective and has done a lot of traveling, which heavily influences his cooking, but don't you dare drop the "F" bomb when trying to describe his signature style - he says what he does is certainly not "Fusion." He explained to me the word "Global" better describes his food.

I also think those of us who love food to the extent that it's creepy are always trying to pinpoint WHEN this love of food started. Was there a moment? Is it ridiculous to even try to pinpoint said moment? I have no idea when mine was, but Chef Mills remembers picking up one of his mother's cookbooks and baking bread when he was about 14 years old just to have the smell of freshly baked bread in the house. If there is such a thing as said pinpointable moment (yes, I said pinpointable, I make up words as I go), I'd say that sure sounds like his.

I met Chef Mills at the restaurant opening and he gave us the grand tour - men, don't miss the awesome "fireman shooting his hose" image above the urinals - I hope they have extra cleaning staff, as that picture could encourage some messy yet creative urination... We also saw what will be the patio by Spring 2010 - I think it'll be great once it is finished. They also had some great light fixtures which helped give a nice warm ambiance... All in all, the decor was what I expected - it was nice, though it felt a little suburban to me somehow as well, but who am I kidding - I'm not here to talk about decor, I'm here to talk about FOOD!

We visited a couple food stations where we tried the Panang Prawn Curry Bowl and the Bombay Butter Chicken (neither of which blew me away, though neither were "bad" by any means - they were just standard in my humble opinion). We also tried some of the samplers the waitresses were passing out. My favourite was the Ahi Tuna Taco, which had a square of lightly-seared sushi-grade tuna atop a sesame ginger coleslaw topped with wasabi-lime aioli. The taco was nice and crunchy - I liked the contrast it gave. The Lobster Grilled Cheese was my second favourite (a little on the greasy side, but if anything on this earth is allowed to be a little too far gone on the greasiness scale, it's grilled cheese).

As for drinks, Joey Don Mills has a really innovative wine serving system that preserves freshness and, as a result, gives them more flexibility to create paired tasting menus. We also had a few delicious bellinis at the bar - I think it was, in fact, the best bellini I have ever had. Sidenote: I don't have any reasonable explanation for why the bellini looks like a nipple... My goodness, with all the "F" bombs and nipples, this blog is getting a little X-rated...

And that, my friends, is my cue to call it a night!

Yours in food,