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Ottawa-the followup report

gardencat's picture

Some of you will remember that Ashley, Jen and I had a mini cook's fest in Ottawa (Canada) in September and that the restaurant failed to meet our expectations. The owner, Steve Beckta, invited me to come back as his guest to try it again and I promised to report to you and him what I thought. My brother and sister in law from Chicago were the willing guinea pigs for this and here is our report. The details of the food and wine are only possible because they supplied a paper copy of our special menu after the meal.

December 22, 2008

This could not have been a more different experience from 3 months ago! Other than the fact I was sitting in the same seat at the same table and the décor was the same, I would think I was in a different place completely. Beckta’s team went out of their way to erase the taste memories of our last visit with Ashley and Jen and I would say they succeeded. Based on this evening, I would again recommend Beckta to friends and colleagues. Here is what happened:

The evening started with a flute of Cava that was served with the Amuse: a cube of pear gelée, topped with a bit of mousse and a pistachio. It was a good taste combination and promised good things to come.

Once again the breads were served with two butters, a regular salted butter and a caramelized version. In contrast to the September experience, the caramelized butter actually tasted sweet and good!

The first course was Ahi Tuna, marinated in Mirin and Soy, resting on a Sun-dried tomato hash on a slice of potato poached in oil and dressed with a sweet citrus and miso vinaigrette. Because my brother does not like fish, he got a scallop, sliced, with the same treatment. This dish was tasty both in the components and as a whole. It was served with a Riesling—it went well together.

The Foie Gras was pan-seared and served with a miso and peanut sauce and cranberry almond chutney. A tokaji was served with it—I liked them all, but found the peanut sauce a bit of a clash with the rest. However, it was great by itself.

Then we had an interesting dish of several blue cheese gnudi served on a vanilla pear gastrique and topped with butter-poached lobster. The gnudi are sort of like gnocchi but made with fresh ricotta, the blue cheese and a bit of Parmesan. The gastrique worked really well with the gnudi and the lobster. It was served with a Vouvray “Demi-Sec” that was a good complement.

The intermezzo was an apple-lemon-ginger sorbet with sparkling elderflower water. We thought we were full and ready to quit but this helped restore our spirits and our palates! I will definitely have to remember that trick for the summer as I can see this being a very popular refreshment if I do it right.

Refreshed, we were ready for the duck breast, served on a chestnut and wild mushroom risotto with a grilled fig and a garlic escabeche. This was very tasty, although our ability to eat the entire amount was limited. With this, we had the only red wine of the night, a Jumilla from Spain. This was a very big and smooth red and held up well with the duck.

The cheese course was a selection of 6 interesting cheeses. We each had one favourite out of the bunch. Unfortunately, I don’t remember the names of the cheeses. My favourite was a raw milk cheese that was very runny and earthy and unloved by the others at the table. We had a wine similar to Madeira with it that worked well. Unfortunately, the cheese course was not listed on the menu provided afterwards :-( so I can't provide more specific details.

For dessert, we had a millefeuille, made with layers of orange shortbread, cranberry-clove compote, crème fraîche mousse and orange curd. It was served with an orange gelato and a cabernet “select late harvest” Pillitteri.

The last note was a chocolate gingerbread truffle served with eggnog. None of us are partial to eggnog but we all enjoyed it. Based on our recommendation, the waiter said he would try it as he does not usually like eggnog either.

Throughout, the service was excellent and the food choices worked well. The pairings also worked, from our opinion. It would have been very nice to have Ashley and Jen there to share it with. I'm sure they would have been happier this time with the food.

I was very happy that we have a transit strike in Ottawa so I had to walk 7 km to get to the restaurant after work! I also made sure to walk the 8 km to work this morning so that I could work off some of the effects of such lovely rich food!

ashleyd's picture

(post #56920, reply #1 of 4)

Relief! I'm so glad you had a great meal there, I knew from what we saw that the restaurant was capable of far better than the food that arrived on our table and what you had this time would have made a good evening even better. Although we did walk to and from the restaurant when we visited I'm not sure that 7 km would be something to look forward to!

Age is unimportant unless you’re a cheese.

Age is unimportant unless you’re a cheese.

gardencat's picture

(post #56920, reply #2 of 4)

I'm sure you would have enjoyed it too! I still can't believe they were so off that night in September. This time I could tell that the duty manager (same fellow as last time) was very nervous about the evening, but the kitchen was clearly having a much better day!

FitnessNut's picture

(post #56920, reply #3 of 4)

Mmmmm....sounds fabulous! I'm so jealous.... ;-)

Follow your bliss ~~ Joseph Campbell

Follow your bliss ~~ Joseph Campbell
Adele's picture

(post #56920, reply #4 of 4)

Oooh, that sounds divine! 

But, but, it's SUPPOSED to taste like that!

But, but, it's SUPPOSED to taste like that!