The explosion of flavour from the fluffy moist cakes sent shivers of excitement down my spine and instantly I knew I was home.
The delicate golden crust of the Bay of Quinte Fish Cakes provided a stark contrast to the succulent interior and sweetgrass aioli – a creamy fresh herb sauce that I could have drunk by the glass.
It was like biting into a piece of the very substance that is County, which is the exact banquet of the senses Countylicious delivers.
It was an incredible appetizer, to what would undoubtedly be an unforgettable first visit for my fiancé Michael and I to the Public School House that’s nestled deep in the heart of the picturesque Jackson’s Falls in Milford.
The healthy aroma of fresh lavender from the vivid potted purple centerpieces breathes energy into the 19th century school house. Jackson’s Falls Country Inn was established in 1870 as a one-room public school house and was newly renovated into a dining room, bar and guest lounge.
It keeps much of its schoolhouse charm with age-old maps hung on the wall and an original chalkboard proudly promoting local wines, cider and beer – the owner Lee Ardin Lewis also tips her hat to European and First Nation cultures. An intricate dream-catcher sways above your head as you enter the rustic and intimate dining area.
Your eyes are instantly drawn to the far top corner of the room where a canoe prop from the award winning Jim Jarmusch movie “Dead Man,” sits. The movie stars native actor Gary Farmer co-starring alongside Johnny Depp.
A poster size photo of Johnny pointing a gun hangs to the right of the bar.
It would be the elegant stained-glass door, rich in colour, that proved to be a eye-popping talking piece while Michael sipped his Manhattan and I a Gewurztraminer from Sugarbush Vineyards in Hiller – a pleasant local vintage.
Both of our palates were vigorously in the mood to try something new – I eagerly selected the County Cider Braised Pork Belly with roasted root mash and farm stand vegetables and Michael decided with the Elk Two Ways, slow braised, and chorizo with creamy polenta and farm stand vegetables.
When Paul our enthusiastic and accommodating host brought our entrées to the table our noses instantly knew we had chosen correctly.
Michael’s elk arrived on an impressive slab of wood. The elk prepared by chef Meghan VanHorne had the consistency of beef. Very tender and fell apart on the palate. A slight taste of herbs and wine followed by a pleasant earthy aftertaste.
The succulent and full flavoured pork with hints of County Cider (my personal favourite) offered the feeling of a home cooked meal.
Crisp, cooked-to-perfection carrots and brussels sprouts mixed with a heavenly root mash gave the welcomed touch of farm to table.
The delightful parsnip was a pleasant surprise to the taste buds as it was cooked in beet juice that hid its off-white colour to the eye, making you think it was carrot.
For dessert, homemade Sweet Corn Ice Cream with ginger snap, berry coulis and honey caramel sauce felt like the perfect goodbye kiss to summer.
So as far as Jackson’s Falls is concerned it’s never too late for anyone to go back to this school.
The 10th annual Countylicious ran from October 28 to November 20 with a plethora of participating restaurants including: Agrarian, Amelia’s Garden, The Courage, The Drake Devonshire, East & Main Bistro, Gazebo Restaurant, The Hubb, Merrill Inn, Pomodoro, Portabella and The Public House at Jackson’s Falls.
The next tasty instalment of this twice-annual celebration of fine dining in Prince Edward County is in the spring of 2017. Stay tuned to Quinte News for dates and participating restaurants.