ironphoenix: (pimp)
( Oct. 31st, 2011 07:20 pm)
A little while ago, two friends and I went to Atelier for supper. Each of us went stag: this was a bit too extreme for our respective partners.

This kind of place is a daunting prospect for many, especially "picky eaters" (which I often am): while they make allowances for allergies and strong aversions, there is no "menu" as most restaurants use the term. The dishes are predetermined by the chef, and are not described in detail until they are served. Twelve courses parade by, ranging in size from smallish to minuscule; by the end, I was pleasantly fed, but not overstuffed. Nine wines (including an ice cider) were paired with the dishes, with small pours totaling about three standard glasses' worth; I was expecting to be a bit tipsier than I was, in fact.

The restaurant isn't just unassuming from the outside; it's nearly clandestine. No sign announces it, and it stands isolated near the dim and sparse South end of Rochester Street. The dining room has about a dozen tables; on the Friday night we went, all were occupied. We arrived for a 7:30 reservation, and were there for the better part of four hours.

A lot is said about the more flamboyant aspects of molecular gastronomy, but first and foremost, it's about making wonderful things to eat. "Wonder" is an important part of it: this is food at play, meant to delight in every sense. I lost count of the number of things I ate that I "don't like" under normal circumstances; part of the genius of great cuisine is to balance flavors and textures so that nothing is overwhelming, and so even notes that would not appeal on their own become pleasant in the setting invented by the chef. Some of the dishes were quite comparable to what one might find as avant-garde appetizers or desserts at a fine restaurant such as Urban Pear; others, especially the later courses, were more whimsical. Wine pairings were sometimes idiosyncratic, but always pleasant and interesting.

A couple of us arrived a bit early, and I inquired about cocktails, hoping that they would have something unique; alas, they explained that they could make anything standard, but didn't have anything special in that regard. I decided to wait for the wines with the meal, and elected for still water (they offer sparkling as an alternative).

Going with companions who were knowledgeable about and appreciative of fine food and drink was certainly a plus; it became a geekdom all its own for the evening. (The three of us already share another geekdom, since we're all aikido students.) I don't recommend it as a first experience of Fancy Cookin', much as I don't recommend satire to people unfamiliar with the material being referenced. Of course, one need not be a grand connoisseur to have a good time there!

The price is the other daunting thing: food, wine, tax, tip... just over $200, for one. This goes beyond being an annual indulgence to the category of "rare outing" for me, but I'm very happy to have gone, and don't begrudge them the money in the slightest.

I won't spoil any secrets about the dishes themselves, of course; ask in person if you want such details as I can recall.

All in all, an enjoyable and memorable evening; certainly something that belongs on any adventurous person of sufficient means' bucket list. I hope they continue to succeed, and look forward to visiting them again sometime!
I have reservations next month at Atelier with a couple of friends... it promises to be an interesting experience!
ironphoenix: (I love my work)
( Dec. 28th, 2010 11:11 am)
Murray St. Restaurant is a hard-to-notice little place next door to an old favorite, Sweetgrass. [ profile] soul_diaspora and I tried it last night, and found it very good, meaty and filling. The cuisine is built around local and sustainable ingredients, with a big emphasis on Meat. The decor is warm, woody, and dim, with an upscale modern pub feel; the crowd seems to run mostly in the fortysomethings, ranging up two and down one decade. Music was low but rather harder-rock than one would expect at a fine dining place; all in all, it made for a rather masculine space.

I started with the duck wings with an espresso BBQ sauce. Three duck wing "drumettes" is a whole lot of meat... next door, it would probably count as a main course! The duck's taste was strong enough to contend with the sauce, where chicken would vanish under it; the result was something between chicken wings and beef rib. I had already started on a local Kichesippi Natural Blonde beer, which went along quite nicely with the sauce's sweetness. For the main, I had the farmer's special, a pasta with lamb, mushrooms, and a few greens in a jus-based sauce which was heavenly, and ample enough that some came home with us. The server recommended a Cotes du Rhone wine, which paired quite well, cutting its way through the substantial density of the meal to deliver much-needed relief to the palate. The reason for bringing some of the pasta home was to be able to enjoy a dessert, of course. I chose the "On Tap", a beer spice cake with beer gelato, beer icing, and beer nuts; it was quite good, although the icing was too rich to finish! The beer notes were not as strong as the description might suggest, and harmonized well with the spice cake.

Our only hangup was that the server, while efficient and helpful, seemed a tad more distant than we prefer. Nothing we can take umbrage at, just a bit cool.

[ profile] soul_diaspora wrote her own post about her meal, so you can read more about the place there. Overall, it was a pleasant evening out, and we'll likely be back after working off the pounds we gained last night!
20h30 (8:30), Les Brasseurs du Temps (location).

The karting krowd may be a bit early or late, depending on how things go at the track.

If you want in, let me know ASAP... I'll be making a reservation!
ironphoenix: (slicktory)
( Feb. 5th, 2010 09:50 pm)
[ profile] soul_diaspora finally dared a recipe from Ana Sortun's cookbook Spice: Flavors of the Eastern Mediterranean, which reads like the Martha Stewart of Near East-inspired nouvelle cuisine: "Braised beef short ribs with vanilla-glazed carrots".

Yum. That sauce is fan tas tic.

Ingredients were gathered from all over the city (although nothing from Chilly Chillies this time) and it paid off very well. The meat literally fell off the bones when the cords tying it in place were cut, and the mix of flavors was terrific.
ironphoenix: Raven flying (Default)
( Feb. 1st, 2009 08:17 am)
So, as [ profile] soul_diaspora posted, we visited The Urban Pear last night for the first time, and were generally extremely pleased thereby.

I started with a very, very rich mushroom cream soup with leek oil and crisped shallots; she started with a mixed greens salad with goat cheese and raspberry vinaigrette. Both were excellent, although by the time I was done with the soup, I was wondering where I would fit the rest of the meal. The salad was also excellent, with the greens and vinaigrette well balanced, the cheese providing an accent to lift it out of the ordinary, and some toasted sesame seeds giving it a bit of texture.

For the mains, she had the short rib, and I went with the duck. Both were very flavorful and not excessively lean, with very well-matched sauces and interesting vegetables and starches. The portion sizes were about what you might expect at That Kind Of Place: enough to enjoy for a while, but not enough to be completely filling without the app and dessert. The wine (whose name I regrettably can't remember, other than it being Italian) recommended by the waiter to go with the duck was quite nice in its own right, but didn't do much either was as a pairing, in my opinion. They do offer a good selection of wines by the glass, though (between a dozen and a score).

The dessert, though, was something else. [ profile] soul_diaspora was timid, and ordered the flourless chocolate walnut torte; it was competent, but relatively ordinary. I was rather less timid, and decided that I trusted the chef enough to order this:
Roasted garlic, lemon and thyme crème brulée garnished with a smoked honey and cheddar ice cream and a homemade gingersnap cookie.
Yes, I copied out the description because no matter how it came out, I was so blogging this.

It was excellent. Like, really amazing. All of the flavors played off each other, and the mix of subtly different textures and temperatures from the crème brulée and the ice cream worked with it perfectly, the gingersnap lending a very nice finish to each bite.

Besides the cheese plate, there were four desserts, two of them more "standard" and two (of which mine obviously was one) rather more creative. I guess the moral of the story is, try the chef's more extravagant creations and you won't be let down!

As you can imagine, it's not an inexpensive indulgence: even with the Entertainment Card discount (-$25), it still came out to $140.
Enjoyed a very tasty ribeye at Friday's.
ironphoenix: Raven flying (Default)
( Jun. 11th, 2007 09:44 am)
Gaming Saturday was excellent, with a hefty turnout: 13 of us at peak, 3 tables going, and a very wide variety of games (Fluxx, Crokinole, Age of Empires III, Java, Finstere Flure (Fearsome Floors), Wits and Wagers, Ra, and Go) being played.

Saturday dinner was excellent as well, with S. and I being overly self-indulgent and going to Friday's, a magnificent steakhouse on Elgin Street. The thing about such places is that not only are the main courses wonderful, but everything is fantastic, and it makes for a deeply, richly enjoyable evening. Our only complaint, and a very mild complaint it is, is that the maitre d' is a tad on the unctuous side. (The waitstaff, however, is attentive, tactful and friendly.) I am looking forward to S. getting her G2 driver's license, since she doesn't generally drink alcohol anyway; as it was, we took the bus. Fortunately, given the location and the weather, this was no great hardship.

Then S. and I went walking and birding at Mer Bleue bog Sunday morning. We saw a baby beaver, and caught a glimpse of what we're pretty sure was a Scarlet Tanager near the Northern edge of its range, based on its song and what we could see of it as it flew off. (It had been hiding in the top of a fairly dense tree.) Also, I got a bit of a sunburn about the neck and forehead, but that's just a sign of summer for us fair-skinned types.

Sunday afternoon was the Bugs Bunny Film Festival at the Bytowne, and much fun was had watching the silly. My only complaint is that they had the volume up somewhat too far. I'd seen many of the episodes before, but not all of them by any means, and even those I had seen had often been edited down. Now I want to run a Toon game again!

And now, back to work... new music post coming soon! (Global Underground Afterhours, Grid, Bonobo, Rjd2, and a Digweed mix)
ironphoenix: (gull)
( May. 24th, 2007 07:25 pm)
Monday, S. and I went out to Sweetgrass Aboriginal Bistro for a very nice dinner. The food is North American aboriginal-inspired nouvelle cuisine, and the atmosphere is warm but not rustic. Although you likely wouldn't know it from our selections, they do have vegetarian dishes, including an appetizer they've aptly named "poor hunter's purse," consisting of "chive crepes with mushroom ragout on a bed of baby spinach and balsamic drizzle."

Dishes and drinks )
S. had mentioned that I seemed very relaxed and upbeat after CanGames, and maybe that affected how I came across; in any event, the waitress was rather obviously more than casually interested in me, which S. and I found amusingly charming. S.'s comment was that she seemed smitten in a rather innocent way, and I have to agree. She wasn't pushy, just... well, giggly and almost awkwardly flirty, kind of like the stereotypical schoolgirl. Rather flattering, really: I'm not accustomed to being quite so obviously flirted at, and of course, S.'s reaction helped.

I heartily recommend the place, with the caveat that you should expect to spend a fair bit of money if you go. Reservations (no jokes about that, please) are a good idea. It's definitely on our short list of favorite high-ticket restaurants; hopefully, we'll find an excuse to go back soon. Their spring menu ends at the end of June, and there are things we both want to try!
ironphoenix: (gull)
( Mar. 20th, 2007 11:50 am)
So a new Thai fast food chain, Thai Express, has claimed spots in several Ottawa malls (Rideau, St. Laurent, Bayshore), and lo, it is good.

It's a pretty well-organized, large operation: there were 7 people visible behind the counter in a quite confined space, and they seemed to not get in each other's way. Food was fresh, ample, and flavorful. It's slightly more expensive than many other places: instead of $7.50 or so, a large lunch with drink is around $9.20, tax in.

From what I can tell, it appears to be run by Chinese people: it sounded to me like the working language behind the counter was Cantonese.

Pad thai, tom yum, curries, stir fries... so far, all good. The only complaint I have is that the spring rolls are more Chinese than Thai.


ironphoenix: Raven flying (Default)


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