Ottawa: Art is in Boulangerie

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I visited Art is in Boulangerie 2 days in a row on my last visit to the Canadian capital. This is a non descript bakery located in an industrial plaza just outside of downtown Ottawa and was named best restaurant in 2012 by Ottawa Magazine.

Croque Madame

Croque Madame

On the first day we tried the pulled pork sandwich which was good but nothing to write home about.  The following day I tasted their Croque Madame.  Overall, well done but to cheesy for me.  I preferred the breakfast sandwich which my colleague ate, a flaky croissant with egg and cheddar cheese.

Sourdough fig and walnut bread

Sourdough fig and walnut bread

Sourdough raisin hazlenut bread

Sourdough raisin hazelnut bread

Kouign Amman

Kouign Amman

Though I was not satisfied with their brunch/lunch sandwiches I was more than pleased with their excellent breads and baked goodies.  I brought home their sourdough fig walnut as well as their raisin hazelnut loaves. Both very well made.  Fantastic toasted.  Their almond croissant is one of the best I’ve had in Canada.  Enjoyed their canelés. Loved their Kouign-Amman (a French Breton dessert of rolled croissant dough sprinkled in sugar).  Great for brunch/lunch or a snack.

www.artisinbakery.com

250 City Centre Ave. Unit 112, Ottawa, ON

Ottawa: L’Atelier

I’m leaving for a business trip today and so I thought I would leave you guys with another entry at a restaurant from my last one to Ottawa.

L’Atelier, one of 2009 En Route’s top new restaurants, is the most experimental restaurant I’ve eaten at in Canada. It incorporates molecular gastronomy, using modern techniques and technology.  Chef/owner Marc Lépine worked briefly with Grant Achatz at Alinea in Chicago and spent time working in Toronto, France and Italy.

His plating was original and meticulous. As well, many of the vegetables and edible flowers used were grown in the garden right behind the restaurant.  Although he took many risks with certain flavour combinations, they weren’t always balanced and at times the dishes lacked substance.

I’ve listed a few amusingly named dishes from our twelve course dinner.

concord grape sphere

Amuse – Concord grape juice sphere with pop rocks. Fun way to kick off the meal. An explosion of fire works in your mouth. I felt like a kid again.

bread and butter in toothpaste tube

I liked the experience of squeezing out my butter onto a dry piece of bread but then I needed to use a knife to spread it.  The butter needed more salt.

L Atelier savage garden

Savage Garden: wild coho salmon, smoked avocado puree, dill flowers, cucumbers, lemon confit, edible flowers and kumquat.  Delightfully presented. Considering the name of the dish, I didn’t expect to see so many garden flowers.  This dish could have reached another level had the chef incorporated at least one or two foraged items.

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Curraty Chops: barley crumble, puréed carrots, pickled and roasted.  An homage to carrots.  I enjoyed that the carrots were prepared three different ways which showcased the various flavours and consistencies.  The barley added extra texture.  However, the flavours didn’t have enough depth.  For instance, I would have wanted the roasted carrots to be much sweeter.

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Bisontennial: bison prepared sous vide with a sweet potato puree, foam of beef bone marrow, pearl onions, roasted brussel sprouts and a shaving of black truffle from Italy. The bison was precisely cooked sous-vide which made it juicy and tender.  The beef bone marrow gave the dish depth.  My only criticism was that the slice of black truffle didn’t add any value. It was dry, wilted and un-aromatic.

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Stick up: lychee sorbet with a strawberry coating propped up on an Australian pine cone (the pine cone was inedible).  Playfully presented.  Fun way to cleasne the palette.  Loved it!

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Hello nasty: nasturtium leaves, nasturtium sponge cake and crumble, chocolate and clementine.  Incorporating vegetables in desserts is a growing trend.  Well done.

L’Atelier has a vital place in the Canadian progressive food scene. However, I felt the flavour combinations needed to be thought through further to generate a more polished final product.

540 Rochester Street, Ottawa

www.atelierrestaurant.ca

Tasting menu price per person = $110

Ottawa: Supply & Demand

photo 1On my most recent business trip to our nation’s capital, I left the touristy area of the Byward market downtown to head to the Westboro, a gentrified urban area with lots of charming boutiques.  A few weeks after dining at Supply & Demand, I couldn’t agree more that it was included on 2013’s En Route top new restaurant list.

photo 2“From the Garden” I started with their Beets with parm crema, radish, grapefruit, red onion and pine nuts. The beets were perfectly roasted al dente. The parmigiano balanced the vinaigrette nicely and the grapefruit provided a pleasant bitter punch.

Then I continued with their fresh daily made pasta Beef tongue ravioli with in votto and Bleu Bénédictin.

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My colleague and dining companion thought the beef cheek meat lacked seasoning but the hand-made pasta was well prepared.  The bleu Québécois cheese was the primary flavour of the dish.  I love strong cheeses but it could be overpowering to others. The cheese was a refreshing local twist to a traditional pasta dish.  Le Bleu Bénédictin is the only cheese still manufactured by monks in all of North America.

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To finish off the meal I ordered their Frozen Chocolate Trifle with whipped peanut butter and salted caramel. If you love chocolate this is your dessert.  I felt like this was a frozen Snicker’s bar with ten extra cups of sugar.  Too rich and sweet for me.

Overall, this was a great casual dinner with well executed food in a hipster chic decorated dining room.  Well worth a visit.

www.supplyanddemandfoods.ca

1335 Wellington Street West, Ottawa, ON