Chef’s Night: great expections, poor execution

The corner of Richmond and Churchill Avenue. Somerset and O’connor. Bronson and Gladstone. These are the intersections of the up and coming dining scene in Ottawa. And when I say up and coming, I should truly rephrase and say: these are the intersections that will see Ottawa’s foodies through to the next wave of exceptional dining. The nation’s capital has been knocked down, teased, bullied for its lack luster dining culture. But when you really think about what the city has to offer, it doesn’t fall short of amazing, at least in the gustatory field. Exceptional dining is available at our fingertips and with places like Union and gezellig prepared to uphold the precedent, I don’t see that changing anytime soon. For that reason, whenever I attend chef’s night at Oz Kafe, I expect to be treated to the truly exceptional, exemplary displays of cuisine that Ottawa has to offer. I’ve written about Chef’s night many times before, simply because the experience is such a unique one. It’s not often that you are treated to the city’s creme de la creme, course apres course, for $25. It’s a steal and usually, something that each diner leaves raving about.

Except this time.

The last chef’s  featured Twitch (Michael Portigal) from Whalesbone Oyster House who has upheld an incredible reputation in the Ottawa dining scene. A few month’s ago, Chef’s night was graced with Twitch’s presence  and included a full blown decadence of the odds and ends of an animal (Spare Parts); it was a night that took every foodie for mouthwatering ride. This time, however, the meal fell short for most of the foodies that attended. The first course set each diner up for disaster. Because to start a four course meal with the best dish and progressively allow deteriorated dishes to hit the tables made each palette cringe.

I’m really sad to tear down a meal that had so much potential, but when push comes to shove, sometimes a tough critic provides perspective. It was evident that the meal was thoughtful and aimed to take a stab at creativity, but 3 of the 4 dishes sadly missed the mark.

         {Mushu Pork tongue with buckwheat pancakes, seaweed and watermelon}

Course #1: This was the stand out of the night, setting up the experience with a reasonably high standard. Although the buckwheat pancake was slightly dry, the hoisin allowed this minor fault to be pushed to the sidelines and the course was well received.

{Cured Mackerel, kimchi, taro gnocchi, oyster sauce}

Course #2: Mackerel dish was tasty, colourful and well executed although the stodgy gnocchi did not lend a helping hand to the dish. The kimchi kept the dish zippy, especially with an extremely oily poisson like mackerel.

 

{Chamomile, lamb, mint, strawberries and pistachio}

Course #3: Unfortunately this is where we hit rock bottom, with a dish that required far better integration of sweetness and acid. The lamb, despite this cut usually being well cooked, was cooked beyond repair. Scattered strawberries for that punch of sweetness was uninspiring.

{Sesame crostini, semi-fredo, beets, honey}

Course#4: I appreciate the innovation of this dish and understand what was meant to be accomplished. The charred flavour of the  sesame crostini paired with a savoury puree of beets had the intention of creating the perception of sweetness while integrating a smokiness to the dish. Without cloying on the palette by integrating this smokey element, the dish still was poorly executed due to the severe flavour of the not-quite-ripe-enough beets.

In a nutshell, a let down for most, but many will turn a blind eye to this disappointment and continue, rightfully, to praise one of Ottawa’s most revered chefs.

 

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This entry was posted in Food, Restaurants 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 : inanutshellca@gmail.com

One thought on “Chef’s Night: great expections, poor execution

  1. Munchkin/Walton, one wonders whether the OZ Kafe should have made the switch from Twitch for chef’s night, although as regards an exquisite meal composed of “animal spare parts”…..well, I will simply take your expert word for it.
    It is unfortunate that your gourmet evening did not work out, but it is fortunate that you have given an honest assessment of how you viewed the meal which will be of benefit to diners, the restaurant and, last but not least, the chef.
    Keep up the good work…..the gourmands of Ottawa are counting on you!

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