Posts Tagged ‘Restaurants’

Table 40 (@Fraser Cafe) Rockcliffe

Table 40 is probably the most affordable table d’hote in the city. It’s 35$ per person for 3 courses. Not only that but it’s A LOT of food. you aren’t even supposed to be able to finish it, and when you don’t (you won’t) they’ll pack it up and send you home.

The idea is family-style meals. Harvest tables and food sharing. You will share a table with strangers, and you’ll share your food with your friends.

I thought you would actually share your food with strangers and I was ok with that, but turns out Ottawa isn’t ready for that (I assume) so you only share with the people you arrive with.

Table 40 is located next door to Fraser Cafe and the whole space is filled with 4 tables (one long table along one wall, and three shorter tables sticking out from the other wall. There’s a small bar at the back with about 4 seats.

In the entrance way there is a small lounge area, and we got our first taste of communal meals while we were sitting waiting for our table, and another group joined us on the couch. They obviously weren’t shy either and three of us squished onto the small couch.

Although we didn’t end up eating with the other group we had a nice chat. It really set the mood of the evening, with a casual and friendly atmosphere.

The place was bustling and we weren’t seen immediately however it was all good since we were in good company and comfortable (if squishily) seated.

The first course was an asparagus soup. It came in a copper pot on a plank. we were each given a bowl with peas and croutons in it, and there were pea shoots served on the side. Serve yourself/build your own soup, and it as excellent.

Our server was very friendly as were all the waitstaff that came by our table.

Our main was also served on a plank and was huge. The idea is actually that you won’t finish it, and we didn’t so we left with a doggy bag. The main was supposed to be ribs but we actually got brisket and and pulled pork. Both were excellent and hte onion rings were to die for. I actually wasn’t able to eat any of the bean salad that was served with it but had some the next day and it was really well balanced, with corn adding texture and sweetness.

Dessert was a strawberry crisp. All strawberries, juicy and flavorful. It’s great to be able to actually taste the fruit instead of just tasting water on those GMOs that we get from Cali.

The whole experience was excellent. And although it seems people in Ottawa are afraid of sharing tables, I hope this catches on. Although we were sharing a table with another couple, the table is large enough that you really didn’t intrude on each other’s conversations (although you could if you wanted to). And they seemed to be in the habit of always leaving one seat empty between each group, so you actually have more space than you would if you were at some restaurants in the city (at the Manx the tables actually touch each other sometimes, and in Boston at Aquitaine I sat at a table where I had to go sideways and lift my butt up above the table to get in, and I’m only 130lbs – luckily no one was at the next table to get a butt in their face)

the one thing I will say, is that in my family the TV was off at dinner (actually we didn’t even have a TV most of the time but if we did, it wouldn’t have been on during meals). I realize that Family dinner in America has gone downhill and that they wanted a casual atmosphere but the food network is really distracting and it’s hard to watch without volume. I say lose the TV’s.

Great experience, try it out!

Fraser Cafe on Urbanspoon

Aquitaine, Boston MA

Great service at lunch! This place is quiet, but has a good winelist, fun cocktails, and some local brews.

The lunch special (soup, sandwich, salad) is a great deal, and the price you would pay is the same as if you got a similar setup at a greasy spoon.

If you’re not comfortable being in close proximity to your dining neighbors, make sure you go here when it’s not busy. I would have been sitting closer to the person at the next table than my partner had it not been almost empty when we visited.

Aquitaine on Urbanspoon

Aquitaine
(617) 424-8577

South End
569 Tremont St
Boston, MA 02118

aquitaineboston.com

Bao Sushi, New Westminster, BC

No one seems to be a big fan of New West. Most people wonder why I wouldn’t want to stay in Van and take the sky train into New West for work. The reason is that I hate commuting. I would rather be close to work and have to commute dt IF I decide to go there. I don’t want to HAVE to commute. So I chose to stay in New West, around the corner from the regional office.

This Sushi place was really good. It’s not a fancy sushi place but the rolls were fresh and tight, and the wakame salad was SO good (so good that was each had one to start, and then we had another one each afterwards).

Very friendly service, and it wasn’t too busy. There is a Ki Sushi place down the street but it’s owned by Chinese people and seems a bit too much like a chain operation. This place seemed more authentic, I recommend it.

Bao Sushi on Urbanspoon

Back Lane Cafe, Hintonburg

The ‘burg is blowing up!!

After last months opening of Alphasoul cafe, and the long-awaited/dreaded/etc opening of Bridgehead, this week two new restos opened on Wellington in the hood.

There were no grand opening signs on either (as far as I know), and as Somerset is closed at Preston I hadn’t been by that part of Wellington for a few days, so I apologize if they actually opened last week. I know Back Lane was open a few days ago and so we decided to make a reservation. At the time they had a sign on the door saying they nod not yet gotten a liquor licence and could only accept cash, so we were ready, cash in hand, for a prohibition style supper. However, they had gotten in the license the night before and had spend the day shopping at the LCBO. Our reso was early so we actually got to christen the wine list with complementary glasses of bubbly – sweet!!

Other liquor licence highlights – they were the first to get Granville island pale ale in, and it looks like they’re all set to have a serious amount of draft (I think I counted ten taps, although currently only three have been filled. Looks like they are waiting on delivery from Kichesippi & Beau’s as well, so that should be imminent.

The wine list seems to be faily general-list centric, but we had a stellar bottle of New Zealand Sauv Blanc, which we actually ordered right off the Excel spreadsheet as the owner was literally just putting together the list when we walked in.

We noted that they are doing wood-fired pizzas, and although we didn’t get a chance to try one, some chef-friends were in at the same time and they said they enjoyed the pizza they had. Not sure how that will go with Tennessee Willems across the street, but I’m happy to support anything that doesn’t involve an orange box.

To Start: Lentil Soup & Paté. The soup was phenomenal. They had obviously just touched it up with extra greens before serving, which was a nice touch because the greens were still nice and bright amid the more neutral colors that lentils tend to give everything. Not sure if the base of this soup was vegetarian or not, I forgot to ask. We also had some bread with chili oil and vinegar.

The pate was HUGE for a starter. I think this dish could be served as a starter to share or could be made into a bit of a smaller disk. The pate was actually mushrooom based, so it wasn’t as heavy as a meat paté but it was very flavourful and servied with a well-arranged and colourful array of condiments, and there seemed to be exactly the right amount of everything, which is nice in dishes that are ‘build your own’

For mains I went with the Grilled Veg Quinoi salad with Califlower Gratin on the side (the mains were mostly mean-centric, but they did have a good selection of starters). Again the Quinoa salad was a great size, and really attractively arranged, and I probably didn’t need the cauliflower side dish. The grilled veggies were really well done and not at all greasy.

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My BF took the lamb with the bulgar side, which was suggested by the server as the one that the shef intended to go with the dish. I wasn’t as excited about that dish just because it was a bit too ‘meat and potatoes’ for me (no veg!) But the BF loved it (he’s the lamb guy) and the side was really really good. The Lamb looked like it had been perfectly cooked to request (M-R).

We ended up not finishing our bottle of wine, so the server was nice enough to dig up a cork and find a bag for us to put it in. We were also surprised with one of their house chocolate bars, which is a perfect little dessert if you are ‘too full’ for dessert. They had another almond dessert which I think I will have to go back for.

One other note: I also really enjoyed how the server brought us our plates and said ‘I’ll let you try that and then I’ll come back with freshly ground pepper’ instead of just offering it before you’ve tried anything. I am the type that generally just peppers soup before even trying it and I’m really glad that I didn’t because the soup was perfectly seasoned and actually nothing I had needed pepper or salt. I think the BF may have added some pepper to one of his dishes, but generally seasoning was spot on.

Welcome to the Burg Back Lane!

Follow them on Twitter @BackLaneCafe

The bathrooms are awesome. I like the lack of stall that is becoming more and more common – awesome! (As long as it isn’t encouraging any of the debauchery that has been happening at Churchill’s over in Westboro – did you notice that the SINK was broken? Rumors abound…)

Back Lane Cafe on Urbanspoon

Haven’t been there yet? You can check out the interior over at Karen McRae’s blog: 

http://drawandshoot.me/2011/11/17/back-lane-cafe-collaboration/

La Crema Canela, Barcelona, Spain


This place is a total Jem in the middle of tourist hell-town, AKA la Ramble. You probably can’t avoid going to la ramble while you are in Barcelona. It seems to be the heart of tourist town and you can’t get away from the crowds. All the places are overpriced and not terribly good.

This place had really great food. We were staying at a hostel just on the other side of la Ramble from here and we ate here at least once a day, and on one occasion twice. Their lunch is especially good, for only ten euro you get a three course meal (app, main and desert) with a glass of wine included.

the supper choices are not a cheap but the food is all very good and very fresh. This is not a typical “catalunian” restaurant, rather more of a mediterranean-style place but given it’s convienient location it is a really great choice. They have a great patio, which actually extends to the other side of the walkway and there is lots of great people watching.

Typical in europe, the service is not exceptional or overly friendly (with some exceptions) but the service are cute – you can’t have everything!!

http://www.lacremacanela.com/

Shore Club Ottawa (@ the Westin Hotel) has attitude

I love visiting a restaurant on it’s first day of being open. I know it’s not fair to say “the server didn’t know how to use the debit machine” but there is something about service that is more important that numbers and knowing which wines have oxidized, and that’s attitude. It comes with you wherever you go and it isn’t necessarily a reflection of how much you know about your place of work or the menu. But it does affect service, a lot.

I work with someone who is completely jaded. She brings that attitude with her wherever she goes and it affects not only her service but her life. I actually had to say once “can you drop off this desert and smile when you do it” SERIOUSLY, this is a fundamental part of service.

So I won’t rag on the Shore club for not showing their bartender how to use the card machine, or for having a bottle of wine on hand that was completely oxidized (how is that possible on the FIRST day of being open? I assume they used it for the media opening on Friday). What they have done is created a beautiful space, and conveyed the excitement of restaurant openings to their staff. Ten for attitude, Shore club!

It was early in the afternoon and we sat at the bar. It being pre-dinner hour and the first day of opening there were lots of staff around, particularly a group of lady lounge-servers chatting at the end of the bar. They looked like kids talking about the cute boy in class (maybe they were) and though I couldn’t hear what they were saying, it was obvious they were excited/happy. These are the servers the bring the right attitude to service.

We had a great little snack at the Shore club, and it’s clear that although not all the t’s are crossed at the moment (They featured a Featherstone Twenty Twenty Seven riesling on their wine list…look it up you won’t find it, because that is two separate winery names) it’s clear that they have started with their right foot forward, with servers who possess positive attitudes, and bring that with them regardless of how much knowledge they have of the actual resto.

Shore Club on Urbanspoon

Trio, Westboro

I’ve said it before, I’m sure I’ll say it again. What is with group service?

I’m all for being a team, and I get that servers sometimes don’t really help each other out because it isn’t making them any money, but in my experience group service doesn’t work that well either. I mean why you would even bother doing anything if you’re going to split the tips at the end of the night anyways? It goes both ways.

We had a great time at Trio, sat on the patio, had the little-bit-of-everything platter (great for sharing) and a half litre of Gruner. It was the perfect day for it and the service was friendly and prompt. AH you thought I was going to complain about it didn’t you? you’re right, one little grievance, here it is: Server 1 came out and asked us if she could get anything else, we said no, just the bill, she offered to split it down the middle. Server 2 came out after, she asked if we were ok, and we said yes, we’d just grab the bill (hard to explain the nuance on language especially when telling the story from another angle), anyways we meant it as in ‘it’s on the way” but she took it as if to go get it, so there was some confusion inside when they were both printing the bill, but they talked about it, and they realized that they were both on a mission to get us the same thing (the bill) and server 2 came out and said something about how we had asked both of them for it…

Well, if they talked about it, why didn’t the bill come out split in 2 like the first girl said it would? We never really asked the second girl for it.

Good service but I am meh on the group service. Great place for drinks though

Trio Lounge on Urbanspoon

Wall & Water, Financial district, NYC

Excellent Brunch & Service

W&W is located on the 3rd floor of a new hotel on wall street. It was difficult to find as it’s not right at the corner of W&W streets, so we had to visit starbucks to use the free internet & get the exact location. thank goodness for the good old ipod touch

Once in the hotel, we walked up some large marble staircases and were greeted by two men in suits (!) and brought to our table.

Brunch consists of a cold buffet, although I’m loath to use a word with such bad connotations. It was piled high with smoked salmon, various artisan cheeses, berries & poached fruit as well as fresh juice cocktails & non-alcoholic bubbly. Cobblers, creme anglais, caramel sauce, etc…naughty.

You can either just eat off the serve yourself bar, or you can order a hot plate, which also includes the bar. We got a great bottle of Dry Rhone Rose, a bit apparently to the servers surprise (we had been up since 8 & it was noon) but many people seemed to be coming straight down from the hotel at that time, and I ordered the cold bar, while my dining partner had two of their “cast irons” (small egg dishes served in mini cast iron pans).

Really excellent service, plates cleared promptly, new cutlery always appearing (freshly polished) and never lacking any water refills.

Highly recommend this place for brunch before or after checking out the brooklyn bridge / ellis island etc.

Wall & Water on Urbanspoon

Fig & Olive, Meatpacking, NYC

A very nice, well-appointed open & airy space. We arrived a bit early but were seated immediatly in the vast (and as yet empty) dining hall. This place would be great for a large group.

We were started off with an olive oil tasting, which consisted of three olive oils (all approx the same colour) served with large slices of bread. the server indicated where the oils were from and what aromas we could expect to see in them. This was quite interesting and all the oils had quite distinct characteristics.

The only odd thing about the service was that no quality checks were perfomed at all. I’m not sure if maybe it was jsut because we didn’t finish any of our food, not because it wasn’t good but just because we weren’t feeling as hungry as we had thought we were

Fig & Olive was participating in NYC Restaurant week (which was extended until september, much more than a week) and offered a 28$ 3-course lunch. We each had the tartar, which I enjoyed but my dining partner was less than enthusiastic about. It didn’t have too much of notable. We then continued to a lamb kebob (excellent) with a millet type pilaf (mediocre) and for myself a “caramelized” cod fillet with fresh veggies. The veggies were great but the fish was indistinguishable, as cod tends to be but I had thought that the caramelized part would save it.

Dessert was excellent, fresh shortbread “biscotti” with fresh strawberries & cream, and for myself a dark chocolate panna cotta type desert.

Fig & Olive on Urbanspoon

Allium, Hintonburg

great service @ Allium!

I’ve been meaning to visit Allium for ages & ages. I’m actually quite ashamed to say I’ve never been there, but there it is.

We were greated at the door by a lovely gentleman who loves the 5-dolla words. He offered us a lovely table by the window in a corner, and just asked that we wait one moment while he wiped & reset it. The restaurant was mostly empty but he has obviously experienced people asking for that table even if the other tables are waiting to be sat.

They have a really great menu setup. While I assume the menu itself changes frequently, they have wine pairing in the wine menu to match everything that is on the food menu. I assume there is somewhat of a “formula” to the food menu, so they have offered a wine pairing to go with all the fishes that they offer. The obvious flaw to this is that fish can have a fairly bland bouquet, and at times, as with chicken, the pairing needs to go more with the sauce and the sides than it does with the actual fish. At any rate the pairing seems very reasonable regardless of the sauces and sides, and also seemed offerings that were by the glass.

Wine prices were fairly even. They are offering a Zahel Gruner Veltliner from Austria at 45$ a bottle, which is the same price as at ZenKitchen, and much lower than the same bottle at Fraser (sorry to continually use this bottle as an example but it’s hard to remember all the prices of all the wines at all the different restaurants so I just go with the ones I notice & remember).

We both went for Kichesippi beer, which paired fabulously with everything we had (scallops, bc salmon & the soup). Finished off our meal with the banoffee pie, which is a must if it’s your first time, although I would recommend sharing it as it’s pretty heavy, not as sickly-sweet as some of the desserts at the Wellington, but with a lovely light chantilly whipped cream. (side note: “Chantilly” can be used as a noun, as in the town in N. France;  or an adjective, as in “chantilly cream” – whipped and sweetened)

as for our 5-dolla word server, he informed me that the restrooms were “up the stairs, through the door at the back, down the stairs and ultimately at the end of the hallway. Needless to say the resto is not  accessible, but the washrooms were well appointed and very clean.

Great food, great service

Allium on Urbanspoon

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