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Ottawa-a brief report

gardencat's picture

Ashley, Jen and I had a great evening together! We had lots to talk about, in spite of the jet lag they were suffering from and the fact that my bedtime is usually 9 pm.

Unfortunately, our meal was exceptional for things other than what it should have been and I'll report more when I'm awake. Ashley took photos of the food, but then gave up. It was so sad!

For those meeting in Toronto, Ashley said that they were just going to go with what you planned, so go wild!

Once again, CTers prove themselves to be wonderful company! Thank you, Ashley and Jen, for coming to Ottawa and sharing your evening with me.

BarbaraK's picture

(post #56912, reply #1 of 26)

Oh, no!!  Beckta let you down??  I am so surprised!  I was thinking of you all, as I was at my Mozart Requiem rehearsal, imagining you all enjoying a wonderful meal with great conversation....

Well, I'm still sorry I couldn't join you.

ashleyd's picture

(post #56912, reply #2 of 26)

Exceptional indeed, as a train wreck is exceptional. Food aside we had a great time, animated conversation from the word go. The food however was a different matter. We had a little amuse of cod brandade which was tasty but a little greasy, first course was a green been salad (a little too al dente, but tasty enough), "sashimi" of watermelon with ginger, so-so, and a roasted corn soup with cilantro which was excellent. After that it was all downhill. Sturgeon sat on a potato cake with pickled turnip, caviar and something else that escapes me. The potato cake was greasy, the sturgeon overcooked, tough and tasteless, the turnip too vinegary, none of it went together and individually it was horrible, all but the tiny spoon of caviar which was quite good. Then thick ribbon pasta, pork belly and beurre noisette. Too much pasta, too thick, the beurre noisette burnt and greasy, pork tasteless and some lardons thrown in which totally upset any balance the dish might have had. The main dish was dry aged tenderloin from which they had managed to remove any taste except something vaguely reminiscent of cardboard, on a bed of something that was "like" arugula, but was soggy and unpleasant, indifferent red potatoes (more greasy butter), blueberry sauce - how can you remove the flavour from a blueberry?- and a couple of other things that aren't worth mentioning. By now Stephen Beckta was well aware that we thought his food was well below the standard expected, and he comped us a selection of cheese, which was fine. The dessert was an OK meringue with cream, lemon ice cream of sorts, palatable but nothing to get excited about. With an elderflower refresher and a spoon of honey and ginger "post-dessert" the whole thing took over 3 and a half hours. We remained pleasant to the staff but we told them in no uncertain terms that it simply wasn't good enough. Had it not been for the fine company it might well have been a total disaster!

All I can say is that Toronto does not have a very high target to beat!

Age is unimportant unless you’re a cheese.

Age is unimportant unless you’re a cheese.

gardencat's picture

(post #56912, reply #3 of 26)

Your description of the train wreck we were forced to be participants in is very good. I will also write to Stephen Beckta tonight and let you know his response. He usually (always) does respond. I don't believe it was a case of unreasonable expectation but both a chef and a kitchen that was not on their game. The wait staff was also off...

Yes, I'm sure you will have better in Toronto. On behalf of the good food people here, I'm so sorry that you experienced the "not so good."

Enjoy the rest of the holiday!

shywoodlandcreature's picture

(post #56912, reply #4 of 26)

Oh, too bad about the food! I suggest that when you write, you point in the direction of this thread, so the chef can see just how wide and varied an audience is in on his/her incompetence. Still, dinner with Ashley and Jen is a treat in an of itself.

Can't wait to hear from the Toronto contingent.

“I wouldn't have seen it if I hadn't believed it.”
Marshall McLuhan
gardencat's picture

(post #56912, reply #5 of 26)

That is a good idea. I'll keep everyone posted.... In the mean time, I'm leaving town for Montreal for the weekend--hopefully the curse won't follow me there!

FitnessNut's picture

(post #56912, reply #6 of 26)

I'm sorry to hear about the disappointing meal. That really is unfortunate, as Ottawa does have some fine restaurants and I understood that this was one of them.

Somehow I missed the thread about Ashley and Mrs. Ashley being in Ottawa. Darn! I would have driven up for the occasion.

Follow your bliss ~~ Joseph Campbell
Follow your bliss ~~ Joseph Campbell
Glenys's picture

(post #56912, reply #9 of 26)

I was presenting at the wine festival in Ottawa a few years ago, so we had the opportunity to have two meals out. At that time we chose Domus for the second night but Friday evening we ended up at this sort of auberge style house, with lacy curtains no less. All I can say about the food is that they served broccoli with my lamb. Broccoli!!!!!
So where do you go? I'll have to google Beckta.

PeterDurand's picture

(post #56912, reply #10 of 26)

S'wrong with broccoli?


Better life through Zoodles and poutine...

Glenys's picture

(post #56912, reply #11 of 26)

It shows lack of effort and imagination. BUT, I still find broccoli the neanderthal of that green family.

PeterDurand's picture

(post #56912, reply #12 of 26)

So its just that you don't like broccoli. Different tastes and so on..

I quite like it BTW.


Better life through Zoodles and poutine...
MadMom's picture

(post #56912, reply #13 of 26)

I love it!

Not One More Day!
Not One More Dime! Not One More Life! Not One More Lie!

End the Occupation of Iraq -- Bring the Troops Home Now!

And Take Care of Them When They Get Here!

Glenys's picture

(post #56912, reply #14 of 26)

If I'm eating my balanced dinner plate at home, broccoli is just fine but a rack of lamb served with carrots and broccoli in a restaurant at $30 plus a plate is a travisty.

PeterDurand's picture

(post #56912, reply #15 of 26)

So I am all ears about your favorite way of preparing it. Obviously I will not be pairing it with lamb :-)


Better life through Zoodles and poutine...

Glenys's picture

(post #56912, reply #17 of 26)

To use the contemporary vernacular, you are soooooo missing the point. Anyone can slap a couple of vegetables on a plate, but if the chef is really creating plate, the counterpoint to the protein shouldn't be just showing up to fill the space.

PeterDurand's picture

(post #56912, reply #18 of 26)


All I asked was "..your favorite way of preparing it.."

Oh well.


Better life through Zoodles and poutine...
Glenys's picture

(post #56912, reply #19 of 26)

Since the seventies, I rarely cook broccoli. I cook rapini or broccolin, Brussel sprouts or cabbages, endives etc. My favourite was with rapini is a little oil and garlic, anchovies, chiles and olive oil. Braise/steam in the pan.

TracyK's picture

(post #56912, reply #20 of 26)

Mean posted a recipe once for roasted broccoli with lemon-garlic sauce and it's really good... may have been from FC, I'm not sure. I have to run at the moment but can dig it up for you later if you can't find it. :-)

Personally, I like it steamed, served with a nice lemony or garlicky mayonnaise.

The idea of American exceptionalism doesn’t extend to Americans being exceptional. If you excelled academically and are able to casually use 690 SAT words then you might as well have the press shoot video of you giving the finger to the Statue of Liberty while the Dixie Chicks sing the University of the Taliban fight song.                --Aaron Sorkin

PeterDurand's picture

(post #56912, reply #21 of 26)



Better life through Zoodles and poutine...

Syrah's picture

(post #56912, reply #24 of 26)

Is that the one with pinenuts? That one is excellent.

I believe in champagne...

"Life is not easy for any of us. But what of that? We must have perseverance and, above all, confidence in ourselves. We must believe that we are gifted for something, and that this thing, at whatever cost, must be obtained." -Marie Curie

gardencat's picture

(post #56912, reply #16 of 26)

I'm glad you got to go to Domus. I have had uneven experiences with them, but overall, I've been very happy there and they do try. I'm sorry about the other experience...

gardencat's picture

(post #56912, reply #7 of 26)

Well, Steve Beckta called me and left a very apologetic message on my phone while I was away and has left me his cell phone number. I will try him tomorrow and see what happens. He was not there that night. He sounded sincere.
I will be sure to post what happens next.

ashleyd's picture

(post #56912, reply #8 of 26)

Thanks. I am fortunate enough to be able to visit and enjoy "high end" restaurants on a regular basis, so the fact that Beckta (or Wreckta as I tend to call it at the minute!) served poor food didn't ruin our evening, but for some people who would have to save to go there for a "special occasion", that would have been dreadful.

Age is unimportant unless you’re a cheese.

Age is unimportant unless you’re a cheese.

gardencat's picture

(post #56912, reply #22 of 26)

I spoke with Stephen Beckta by phone today. He was, again, very apologetic that our meal had not been up to his usual standards. He was hoping that you and Jen were going to come back through Ottawa so he could make it up to you. Failing that, he has offered dinner for myself and a guest to prove that this was an anomaly.

Now to find a willing intrepid explorer!

ashleyd's picture

(post #56912, reply #23 of 26)

Not likely to be in Ottawa for a while, but you should have a great meal!

Age is unimportant unless you’re a cheese.

Age is unimportant unless you’re a cheese.

ashleyd's picture

(post #56912, reply #25 of 26)

Well just to prove that presentation skills were good, even if it didn't taste as good as it looked


Age is unimportant unless you’re a cheese.

Edited 10/8/2008 5:51 pm by ashleyd

Age is unimportant unless you’re a cheese.

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gardencat's picture

(post #56912, reply #26 of 26)

You know, based on the photos, it should have tasted all right. Of course, you discreetly did not take photos of what went back to the kitchen, including the half portion of burnt butter under my pasta...

Thank you for the photos and the good visit. I will take photos of my follow-up visit there, so I can post them along with that report....