Sitting Down at The Silver Birch
Review by Sue Pretty
Darlene Green, head chef at The Silver Birch, has worked the line every night since the beginning. Heading into its eighth year of business, this northern-inspired eatery was hit hard by COVID-19, like many other restaurants. Green says that, initially, they stayed home “just like the rest of the planet.” But after about four weeks, restlessness set in and she decided to start offering take-out, which was new for this fine-dining establishment.
While the encouragement and kind words poured in, Green found herself keeping busy and calling back staff to give her a hand. “There was a learning curve, for sure,” she says. “Some products were short in supply at the beginning—like carrots and onions—and take-out containers were difficult to source, but we figured it out eventually.” Staying nimble and flexible in these times is certainly required, and now The Silver Birch is back to having in-person dining, while the take-out and catering side of the business continues to be strong.
As for dining in, the tables are fewer, but the atmosphere is still one of calmness, elegant lines, and birch forest atmosphere, with a stunning stone fireplace in the private dining room. While perusing the comfort-food menu, patrons can nibble on the homemade beer and onion bread with signature blueberry balsamic vinaigrette. The bread is made with local brews, so you may not get the same taste every single time, depending on the nuances in the beer.
The menu items reflect the unique culinary offerings of this region—familiar ingredients such as maple, blueberry, and Thunder Oak Gouda abound, but readers of The Walleye will not want to overlook the pickerel. The duo of northern pickerel cakes arrived perfectly panko-crusted on the outside, filled to the brim on the inside, and resting on a savoury lemon and grainy mustard aioli. The pasta pickerel alfredo was described by our wonderful server Nicole as “melt in your mouth,” and she was not wrong. The linguine noodles were cream-sauced and adorned with bits of roasted tomato and parm, while the tender pickerel’s crumb coating was perfectly seasoned. The evening special was a braised 12-ounce bison short rib with a maple-chipotle rub, Fresno cheddar potato mash, and roasted root vegetables, consisting of carrot, parsnip, and beets.
The Silver Birch is planning a few special take-out menus for the holiday season to watch for, and call early if you need them to be a part of your New Year’s Eve this year. Say goodbye to 2020 with style, because—let’s face it—the rest of us will be, too!
The Silver Birch is located at 28 Cumberland Street North. Call 345-0597, or visit thesilverbirchrestaurant.com.