Noah Goldberg is The Feasting Room’s fairy godmother, turning a dark bar into a restaurant and back again every night.
Every night, at the stroke of 10, the staff at The Feasting Room pack everything up. The wine glasses, the dishes, the candles, the butcher’s paper covering each table—it all disappears. It’s as if the restaurant never existed. In its place, a blues band starts setting up its gear. That’s because The Feasting Room operates out of The Orbit Room, the second-floor bar on College Street, during the early part of the night.
Like many of Toronto’s pop-up food endeavours, The Feasting Room is batting practice for a young chef. Twenty-nine-year-old Noah Goldberg eventually hopes to find a permanent location (and the dough) to open his own place. Last year, he was working in the kitchen at London’s famed St. John, the restaurant that popularized offal, when he decided it was time to return to his hometown. Goldberg struck a deal with the owner of The Orbit Room, his local watering hole, knowing that they didn’t use their kitchen until later at night. “I can’t afford my own place, so why not use this as a stepping stone and build a team before getting a new place?” he says. He hired Mathieu Dutan, formerly of La Palette, as the manager, and with no construction or liquor-licence red tape, they launched the 50-seat dining room a month later. “It’s not my dream location but I still love it,” says Goldberg. “It’s an unexpected location with unexpected food.”
The concept Goldberg and his lone sous chef are trying is out of the ordinary. Each week, they pick an animal—cow, pig, duck, sheep, and so on—and create a six-course tasting menu that makes use of all the various parts. The restaurant posts the animal of the week on its website, but the menu is kept secret until the last moment. When diners are seated, they receive a card wrapped in butcher’s paper. On it is a diagram of the animal marked with numbers that correspond to the part of the animal that will be used for each course. You won’t know what dish you’ll be eating until it arrives at the table.
For rabbit week, necks and ribs were roasted for a consommé, the shoulder was braised and garnished with crispy purple kale, the legs were served confit with a thumb-sized sausage for cassoulet, and the loin was stuffed with asparagus and wrapped in pancetta on a bed of cumin-roasted eggplant. To end: a piping-hot rabbit fritter on a waffle, drizzled with warm strawberry syrup. Waffles aside (dessert is purely executive sous chef Adam Weisberg’s territory), the courses give an elegant nod to Goldberg’s background in French and British cooking.
This kind of menu has given Goldberg some challenges. Making six courses with rabbit was much more difficult than it was with a pig. After the first night, the kitchen was running low on rabbit hearts and kidneys; Goldberg replaced the course with extra leg and shoulder meat and used the remaining organs as a garnish for the loin course. So while the animal changes weekly, the menu also changes depending on what’s in the kitchen, making the experience unpredictable for both the diner and the chef. “It surprisingly makes for a lot of repeat customers,” he says. “We’ve had people come back three weeks in a row. It’s like a new restaurant every time.”
580a College St. #COL 647-785 3557, thefeastingroom.com.