Attention all gastronomes: There is some seriously good cooking going on at Hexagon, a superb restaurant that opened last September in Oakville, Ont.
Executive chef Rafa Covarrubias and the team of young (no one is older than 25) and talented chefs, recruited from across Canada, are turning out refined, creative food that’s anchored in French technique and top-notch ingredients, and celebrates Canada’s multicultural diversity.
Right off the bat, the kitchen signals its intentions with a trio of wonderful amuse bouches: tiny pork-belly croquette, light as air; mini fish tostada; and savoury macaron earthy with the flavours of black truffle, roasted pine nut and lavender.
Buttery and pillowy pain au lait, served warm, splits the difference between croissant and brioche. It’s the bread of my dreams.
Things only get better from there. Braised, and then charred, octopus is exquisitely tender and subtly smoky, and animated by daubes of chili emulsion and salsa negra. It’s the best octopus dish I’ve ever eaten.
Tiny, tender agnolotti are stuffed with sweet/earthy truffle and shallots. Maple vinaigrette and granny smith apple provide quiet sweet notes.
Roasted chanterelles and sweetest spring peas swim in intense cremini mushroom broth.
Tart sea buckthorn jelly, Savoy cabbage and black garlic paste harmonize brilliantly with rich and fantastically tender pan-roasted duck. And I can’t remember having better halibut. A slab of snowy white fish is poached until it’s supremely moist, almost custardy in texture, and set afloat a sweet/earthy carrot emulsion zinged with lemon verbena oil.
Chef sends out a ‘pre-dessert’ treat of silky bitter chocolate mousse topped with semi-frozen avocado mousse and anointed with olive oil.
Desserts bring more brilliant combos such as almond bavarois layered with frozen rhubarb snow and salted milk sorbet.
And then comes the showstopper: A mini piñata made from caramelized white chocolate and hiding coconut dust and citrus candy. The piñata is suspended above velvety crème brulee and coconut jasmine cream zapped with calamansi’s lime-like perfume. With my spoon and knife, I break open the piñata and spill it, and its heavenly contents, onto the delectable crème brulee construction.
A perfect complement to the refined food, the service from the entire floor team is polished, professional and knowledgeable.
Further enhancing the experience is the sleek space, outfitted with hexagonal light fixtures and decked out in gleaming surfaces and an understated contemporary palette of black, blue and earthtones. Throughout, the culinary brigade quietly and confidently goes about its business in an open kitchen that’s prominently positioned for dramatic effect. The front windows open onto Hexagon’s patio and, beyond that, Oakville’s Towne Square. It’s an extremely pleasant dining setting.
Hexagon offers a number of group dining options. Full buyouts are available anytime (except Friday and Saturday evenings) in the restaurant, which seats up to 85 people. A private dining room seats up to 25, and a private upstairs lounge, outfitted with private washroom and DJ/audio booth, seats up to 30.
Hexagon caters offsite events, but only during the week.
— Don Douloff has been a restaurant critic for over 30 years and, during that time, has critiqued more than 1,500 eateries. In 1988, he studied the fundamentals of French cuisine at Ecole de Cuisine La Varenne in Paris, France. During his time in France, he furthered his gastronomic education by visiting the country’s bistros, brasseries and Michelin-starred temples of haute cuisine. He relishes exploring the edible universe in his native Toronto and on his travels throughout Canada and abroad.