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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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
Tasting menu price per person = $110