Some time ago, the boy promised to take me out on a real date. Unfortunately our last pre-summer/treeplanting weeks in London were filled with errands – moving the contents of our apartment into storage, on his part: final papers & exams, on my part: wrapping things up in the lab so as to leave things at a natural breaking point for the next research assistant.
Putting London on hold, we decided to postpone the date until Ottawa.
Classically trained Matthew Carmichael’s menu features local ingredients. Despite the unsurprisingly little amount of ‘adventurous’ foods, the dinner turned out extremely tasty. We created our own tasting: they “usually” only allow blind tastings if the entire table partakes, so we couldn’t manage to convince the waiter to serve a few extra blind dishes in addition to one order of the tasting menu.
greek styled tomato salad – very generous amounts of delicious goat’s cheese and olive tapenade. In fact, it was an overwhelming amount, hiding the oregano vinaigrette. I should’ve saved enough bread from the first round – it would’ve made a fantastic spread! The tomatoes were unfortunately a tad disappointing. Expressing these sentiments to the waiter resulted in him not asking about any more of our remaining courses.
lobster cobb salad – with a buttermilk dressing. Served with a rather generous amount of lobster (we suspect from cold storage — it’s definitely not lobster season yet), a few slices of perfectly ripe avocado, crispy bits of bacon, blue cheese (Bleu Benedictine) and egg. Just lovely!
steak tartare – a very generous amount served in a bowl in another bowl of ice. Definitely a smidge on the cold side – too cold for the flavours to properly come through in balance. Red chillies gave the dish a slight kick, and the roasted red peppers were a delicious and unexpected addition. Though the herbed and blue-cheesed crostini were delicious against the beef, we happily spooned the remainder onto their bread as well – a much sweeter variation that showcased the parmesan in the tartare.
foie gras, 2 ways – the soy-stained torchon served with maple crystals was creamy and tasty, although not my favourite of the two as the soy almost overpowers the subtle richness. Despite a few corners being overly browned, the pan-seared version served on brioche was simple and delicious, accompanied by a tiny amount of ume.
espresso roasted ostrich – when examining the menu, the boy was initially skeptical about strong flavours of the dish: cardamom, cocoa nibs, brandied cherries, and a red wine demi glace. In the end, I’m happy he was persuaded: everything was fantastically in balance. again, very generous portions (a good 4, 5 pieces of meat).
chocolate torte – served with a blood orange sauce. Chocolate-y rich and delicious, it was an awesome way to end the meal.
I think I’ll never be able to take top-notch restaurants 100% seriously though: there was great entertainment value derived from the table next to us (6 men working in finance). After a bottle of rosé, a bottle of red, and a bottle of vodka, they sounded like frat boys Being in high school, I thought everyone would have grown up by the end of university. During my undergrad, I figured people would mature once they hit the real world. I wonder about the proportion of the clientele who are their for the food (genuinely), versus going there “to be seen”.
But I digress.
It was overall a fantastic night out and I’m already salivating for our next dinner date!