neil baxter
press clippings
rundles restaurant
Anne Hardy
Where to Eat in Canada 2004-2005

“Rundles, all cool and white and plate glass, is as graceful and luxurious as ever. If you want a view, book a table in the back room, overlooking the garden. The meal begins with a soup, which may be roasted corn and chipotle, or a puree of fennel. Next comes something like pan-fried Atlantic salmon with globe artichokes and fingerling potatoes in a shellfish bouillon, roasted halibut with quinoa in bouillabaisse or a warm shrimp salad with peanuts, mint, coriander and red-curry vinaigrette. Our favorite sweet this year is goat cheese with roasted beet root”.

HAIL TO THE CHEFS
by James Chatto
Toronto Life Magazine, April 2002

“Stratford seemed like a ghost town that warm October night – mist drifting across the lake, not a soul to be seen in the parkland around the theatres. Behind its dimly lit water garden, Rundles was almost deserted, a week away from closing for the season. Designed to seem cool and open in the summer, the pale, debonair décor glowed softly after dark. At a distant table, James Morris, the restaurant’s owner was dining alone with a book. Chef Neil Baxter’s cooking suits a contemplative mood. Like the music of Bach, its deep energies are contained by balanced precision and an unfaltering finesse. His ‘shepherd’s pie’ was a treatment of oxtail, the tender, richly flavored morsels of meat set over a tiny dice of roasted parsnip and celeriac. They bathed in a small pool of thin translucent meat broth – incredibly pure and meaty – with a dab of mashed potatoes at its heart. On top lay a piece of seared foie gras with just the hint of a coarse salt crust and a nest of tangy fried onion filaments. Lobster was twice blessed, its succulent tail poached and sliced, its claws fried for a second or two in a crisp suggestion of tempura batter. Baxter served them with bite-sized bundles of julienned cucumber, tomato and mango, and peppery baby salad leaves lightly dressed with lemon-grass vinaigrette. Other delights followed, all paired with flawlessly matched wines, until a wee bowl of tropical fruit salad appeared as a pre-dessert to cool and refresh the palate. The Grand Dessert was a collation of perfect miniatures. Paired with cardamom-scented iced milk, apple confit had a sleek, caramelized softness like the stolen top of tarte tatin. A delicate pastry shell was filled with bittersweet, almost liquid Valrhona chocolate – the most profoundly chocolate tart I’ve ever eaten. Baxter doesn’t slut up his textures with masses of butter or reduce his sauces to sticky absurdity. He won’t overburden a plate. Lingering late over my coffee in that serenely charming room, I still found time for his dainty petite fours”.