The tiny farming community of Binbrook has seen great changes since amalgamation with Hamilton in 2001. According to Wade Taylor, owner and executive chef of The Binbrook Grill, the population of the small community has tripled over the last five years.
“Binbrook is still a young and rapidly growing community,” says Taylor, “and we have positioned the Grill so that it is right in the dead centre of the town. We’re hoping that it will become a neighbourhood hangout as well as a dining destination.”
The Binbrook restaurant was opened in December, 2013, spurred by the success of Taylor’s Argyle Street Grill in Caledonia. (The Argyle Street Grill has been featured on the Food Network’s “You Gotta’ Eat Here”.) Taylor says that he had been eyeing the Binbrook location — a former eating place called “The Bin” — for quite a while.
“The Bin was old and very run down and it took us four to six weeks to renovate. I set up the new menu and while it’s not designed as “fine dining”, we are determined to do things right. For instance, we make bruschetta with roasted tomatoes and good goat cheese. The food is cooked from scratch and I try to use locally sourced meats, cheese, anything I can find nearby whenever feasible.
Specialties include our prime rib crusted with Dijon and horseradish — which is second to none. And Lake Erie perch breaded with panko crumbs — when the lake isn’t frozen over. We have our own smoker and another favorite is applewood smoked ribs.
The menu items are ‘the usual suspects’ but we try to give them an upscale spin.”
Taylor has been working in the food industry for most of his career. Growing up in Niagara-on-the-Lake, he started out working in several of the area hotels, including the well-known Pillar and Post, which gave him an early glimpse into the world of fine dining.
The only deviation in his life plan came after high school when he made a trip out to the west coast.
“I was known as a bit of a tree hugger,” he admits, “and when I got home from out west I found out that my mother had registered me in Forestry at college. I tried it, only to find out that it was all about cutting trees down, so I dropped out.”
Back on track, he worked his way through all sorts of restaurants including chains such as Casey’s and Milestones Bar and Grill, ending up at Hamilton’s Slainte Irish Pub where he spent four years. In the meantime he got his chef’s papers and, as an aside, did four years of night school at Mohawk College, taking courses in graphic design and illustration. (“So I could make good-looking menus, ” he laughs.) In 2010, he began a consulting business working with small restaurants, helping to create menus. During this time, he found a restaurant in Caledonia and along with his partner, Kevin Wootton, opened the doors to the Argyle Street Grill in 2010. The rest is, as they say, history.
At our Go Cooking session on March 3rd, Taylor is going to be demonstrating his creative flair with a menu devoted to simple, homely comfort foods, items such as braised short ribs, a salmon based appetizer and pot de crème for dessert. Ahh — simple in spirit, perhaps, but listen to how he describes the fare:
“The short ribs were featured on the Food Network show. They are braised for seven and a half hours (to reflect the Caledonia telephone exchange, 765) and are fall-off-the-bone tender. They will be served with fingerling potatoes and whatever vegetable is market fresh that day.
For the appetizer, I’ll toss quinoa with mango, tomatoes, cucumber and avocado in a salad with a lemon Chardonnay vinaigrette — we’ll use our own preserved lemons.”
And guests are in for a triple whammy evening, since they will have the benefit of watching not one, but three chefs. Chef Wade is bringing Chef John Svab from the Binbrook Grill as well as Chef Dave Aul from the Argyle Street restaurant, just to keep things moving. If you aren’t going to be one of the lucky guests you can always visit one of the restaurants. Or, here is the dessert recipe for you to try at home.
Butterscotch Pot de Crème
from Chef Wade Taylor, Binbrook Grill and Argyle Street Grill
17 egg yolks
2/3 cup white sugar
1 litre of 35 % cream
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup butterscotch chips
1 cup chocolate wafers
Hershey’s Skor bar
1) Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
2) In a large bowl, whisk together egg yolks and sugar until the sugar has dissolved and th mixture is thick and pale yellow.
3) Combine cream and vanilla, whisk until well blended
4) Place cream in sauce pan and heat on stove on medium low flame until almost boiling. Skim off any foam or bubbles. Pour in butterscotch chips and whisk until melted.
5) Pour a small amount of hot cream into egg yolk mixtures, whisking as you pour to SLOWLY increase yolk temperature, then add remaining cream.
6) Divide mixture among 11 oval ramekins or custard cups. Place ramekins on the oven shelf then pour a water bath around them (large pan filled with 1 or 2 inches of hot water) and bake until set around the edges, but still loose in the centre (about 15 to 20 minutes). Remove from oven, leave in the water bath until cooled. Remove cups from water bath and chill.
7) Melt chocolate wafers in a double boiler and pour a small layer on top of custard. Crumble 1 tbsp of Skor on top of hot chocolate. Allow to cool, then wrap and place in fridge.