It has been a few weeks since I ventured to Rod Castro and Rani Aramouni’s restaurant, 10fourteen. After interviewing owner, Rod, I was very excited to taste what was in store and decided to check it out on opening night. Then, came Christmas. Then the new year. And now, here I am writing about 10fourteen once again to say that I have not forgotten about my experience and for all the right reasons.
Upon arrival I immediately noticed two things:
1) Owners, Rod and Rani, were visibly present (I’ll get to that later when I discuss the service).
2) There was an easy-going vibe resonating throughout restaurant, almost a hybrid between a lounge and a pub. People were stippled across the bar, all of them relaxing with a glass of wine in hand and munching away on some sort of delectable tapas item. I took a seat in a cozy nook just to the right of the bar. The interior was trendy, with a collection of eclectic mirrors adorning the main wall. On the other wall, where the bar lies, traditional incandescent bare bulbs hang from the ceiling. And the most intriguing part is the kitchen. Unlike many of the restaurants in Ottawa, ALL of the action- including food preparation- goes on right behind the bar. 10fourteen pulls off a hip vibe without feeling pompous or elitist. It’s a down-to-earth tapas bar where everyone is welcome to try a new style of food and a new way of eating.
The service met my expectations, especially for an opening night. None of the staff appeared to be flustered or unprepared for the later rush of patrons. As I mentioned above, Rod and Rani, were milling about touching base with all of their guests that evening. This, in my opinion, is monumental in providing a good service. If the back bone makes a point of being a present, visible being within their restaurant you can be sure of two things: Everything is getting done the way they want it to be done and they are 100% committed to making their business endeavour a successful one. Rod came by my table a number of times asking for feedback, as well as providing insight as to what he liked best on the menu and what items they hope to test out in the future. His presence made me feel like I was part of the restaurant instead of just an onlooker.
The menu was so much fun! It asks you to be open-minded, as you can see it is not very extensive. Executive Chef James Foley is clearly having fun too, mixing and matching some of the most unlikely foods to make some of the most mouth-watering dishes. It is a true tapas menu. I was happy to see the inclusion of meats and cheese, which is very à la mode, to polish off the menu (and my appetite). I began with the seared tuna dish and the bison reuban. Afterwards we moved onto a tapas style charcuterie board of Capriny goat’s cheese, Noyan and rillette. Prices range from $4-$14, but keep in mind everthing is about appetizer size.
I must give an honourable mention to the well-cultivated wine list. Although small, it certainly is big in flavour. I tried the Forrest Sauvignon Blanc which was fresh, clean and crisp. But the highlight was the Lucas and Lewellyn Pinot Noir. It blew me and my taste buds out of the water and I was thrilled to see that 10fourteen offered such a sophisticated and delicious wine.
In a nutshell, 10fourteen has the right idea and is off to a wonderful start. Looking forward to how this tapas bar evolves throughout the new year, we will certainly be back!