Spare Parts

About two years ago, a friend of mine who danced, dressed and dined off the beaten-path told me about one of Ottawa’s best kept secrets: Chef Appreciation Night at Oz Kafe. This nook, hidden between Pancho Villa and Lieutenant’s Pump (on Elgin), is home to many gastronomical feats. Chef Appreciation Night, however, occurs only once a month – the last Monday of the month. On this last Monday, Oz invites chefs from around Ottawa to cook in their kitchen and dazzle their crowd with a 5 course meal for $25.  These 5 course meals are elaborately prepared and usually reflect the chef’s best work. For $25 dollars, you can only imagine how popular this single culinary evening is.

A spot at this elusive meal doesn’t come easily. More often than not, invitations are extended to diners and those diners are usually chefs and servers working throughout Ottawa. Otherwise, a reservation for this palate pleasing night should be booked about a month in advance and even then, it’s not a guarantee.

Somehow, I was lucky enough to snag one of the spots last month and, not quite knowing what to expect, sat down with a hungry stomach and an open mind. The Chef in question was Dirk McCabe, Chef de Cuisine at Beckta Dining and Wine, so I knew I was in good hands, the best actually.

However, upon sitting down this is what I saw:

A dinner menu entitled "Spare Parts" ?!? . . . Not exactly what I signed up for.

So I was in for a totally sustainable meal and I mean that in the most literal sense, where our dinner was composed of parts of the animal that aren’t typically used. Waste not, want not  . . . I think.

So the question is, did I eat it ?

Let’s just say Course 1, the “Quadruple Bypass”, was successful.

{Maple Marinated Sockeye Salmon Heart with creme fraiche & dill, Grilled Beef Heart with anticucho, Tempura Fried Chicken Heart with sweet & sour plum sauce, Shaved Corned Lamb Heart with lemon and mint gremolata}

Next, an old classic, The Hot Dog. This little “Chien Chaud” was quite gourmet, all things considered.

{Pig “Scrapple”, Corn Relish, Heirloom “Catsup” with garlic scape kimichi}

Following, we were tantalized with a dish entitled “Swinging Beef”. Does the “swinging” give it away?

{Confit and Chicken Fried with Snap Peas and burnt honey, red eye dijon gravy}

Rarely do I squirm at the thought of food, even up until this point my stomach hadn’t really turned. It was all delicious. Just goes to show you that you have to eat outside of the box every now and then. On that note, I’ll admit that I decided to omit the 4th course from this post. Having to turn it down simply on an aesthetic basis, I cannot adequately comment on the caliber of dish #4. I will leave you with the title and nothing more: “Thinking Cap”.

And finally, a beautifully presented dessert that everyone wanted more of, a very untraditional “PB&J”.

{Foie Gras Gelato and Lavender Teething Biscuit with crunchy peanut butter scotch caramel and wild blueberry syrup.}

The Spare Parts menu was one of the most alternative menus that Chef Appreciation Night has seen but nonetheless, it was a full house and recieved accolades from Ottawa foodies. Leave it to the boys at Beckta to pull something like that off.

On September 26th, Oz Kafe will welcome the team from Whalesbone Oyster House for Chef Appreciation Night and perhaps some of their to-die-for oysters will be incorporated into the evening. Whatever the menu reads that night, I’ll bet all my spare parts, it will be another shucking good meal.

This entry was posted in Food and tagged , , , , , , , by Kate Lalumiere. Bookmark the permalink.

About Kate Lalumiere

After studying wine and spending years in the food service industry, Kate is nutshell's designated food and wine aficionado. Her posts take on the foodie-sphere one restaurant at a time, exposing some of the hottest spots to satiate the ol' buds ! Her favourite restaurants usually include: innovative menus, sustainable & local produce and unparalleled hospitality. Although Kate has a keen ear for food buzz in the National Capital, you'll also find her weighing in on fashion, music and anything that peaks her interest! ** Favourite Restaurant (Ottawa) : Supply & Demand • Wine of Choice: Every wine • Favourite Band: The National • Bad Habit: Being a backseat driver• Favourite Song: Wild Horses • Fashion Icon: Olivia Palermo • Favourite Movie: The Sandlot • Favourite TV Series: Gossip Girl (sue me!) • Sport: Football (to watch and play) • Team: Arizona Cardinals • Blackberry or Iphone: Iphone • Favourite Book: The Sun Also Rises, The Cat's Table, The Bell Jar, On the Road... • ** To ask Kate a question about food, wine or anything else contact her at :

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