This is our fourth visit to Ottawa’s Atelier. Tonight we are celebrating our youngest daughter’s 20th birthday and Atelier is her restaurant of choice. I am taking this as a sign that I raised her right. As in our previous visits, Atelier never fails to surprise, delight, educate and provide an incredible dining experience. Prices have gone up since our last visit. $95 per person for a 12 course meal (previously grossly under priced in my view at $75) and $60 (previously $55) for the wine pairings which are surprising, sometimes daring, always spot on, and come with a knowledgeable sommelier who pours with a heavy hand.
Without further ado, here is the menu and wine pairings for June 17th, 2011
Pork and Beans (Amuse)
Pork collar, fava bean puree, young basil, Swiss chard, sous-vide egg yolk and Gouda creme sphere. This is a very pretty Spring dish. The pork is tender and succulent and the Gouda creme sphere was a nice surprise. We thought it was a quail egg until it popped with creamy goodness.
Spot Prawns paired with Kum Bok Ju Hwa Rang Junmai Daiginjo Sake (Korea)
These were BC spot prawns with an Asian flair, plated with sorrel mayonnaise, delicious ball of sweet, refreshing cucumber jelly, soy-marinated cucumber, chickpea croquette, salmon roe, edamame and Thai purple basil. The biggest surprise of this dish was the sake pairing. Of the four of us dining tonight, none of us really enjoys sake. This Korean sake however was drinkable even on its own. It had a bite at the finish but none of the alcohol harshness that is typical of sake. Quite lovely and complimented the delicate prawns. Kudos to the sommelier on this choice – definitely a delightful surprise.
Modernist High Tea paired with 2009 Studert-Prüm Wehlener Sonnenuhr Reisling Kabinett (Mosel, Germany)
Earl Grey tea smoked salmon, tomato jam, lemon curd, Earl Grey tea jelly. The powdered salmon was truly amazing, with fresh flavour, excellent texture and smoke.
Spruce with a P paired with NV Villa Rubini Vino Spumante di Ribolla Gialla (Friuli, Italy)
Pea and parsley soup, with birch syrup meringue, Spruce beer foam, fresh peas tossed in truffle oil, and nitro corn noodles. This dish arrived composed in a bowl at the table and the gorgeous, green chilled broth was poured over the components. The icy cold noodles were a surprise as were the lightly truffled peas. Sweet, herbal, and cold with good crunchy textures and earthy flavour from the truffle. Lots going on in this soup and it paired well with the cold, crisp Spumante with its green apple accents. A favorite course on the night with all four of us.
Johnny Cash paired with 2008 Hidden Bench Rosomel Vineyard Fumé Blanc (Niagara, Canada)
This dish was probably the most delightful visually and conceptually this evening. This plating was completely black including the slate tile as serving dish. There were other surprises that fooled the eye, including lemon jelly, dyed black with squid ink. The halibut cheeks were meaty and perfectly cooked, the ribbon of fermented black garlic was tasy and the ramp was a nice accent.
The Cure paired with 2010 Astrolabe Sauvignon Blanc (Marlborough, New Zealand)
Cured mackerel and fennel three ways. The mackerel was surprisingly delicate and the dish was one of the prettiest of the evening, decorated with floral edibles, pink hibiscus foam, thinly sliced radish and roasted red pepper sauce.
Floating Fruit (palate cleanser)
This dish was a favorite on the evening. Sous-vide cooked pineapple, curried caviar for heat, star anise for a little hint of sweet. Lime leaf folded and clipped to the spoon provided a pleasant citrus aromatic.
Asparaganza paired with 2009 Vignobles des Doms Côtes du Rhône (Rhône, France)
Smoked duck served rare, morels, fried shallot, garlic scapes and purple Jerusalem artichokes. This dish was my personal favorite of the evening. The duck was heavenly and perfectly complemented with an old world red, with notes of leather and tannin.
Wagyu paired with 2004 Bodegas Altanza Reserva Selección (Rioja, Spain)
USA Wagyu beef, flatiron cut, rare with pine nuts and honey mushrooms, bone marrow gnocchi, and a 1/4 of the most delicate, sweet, baby turnip. Very nice with the mature red from Spain. A favorite on the evening for two of our guests.
iCup paired with 2007 De Bortoli Noble One Botrytis Semillion (New South Wales, Australia)
Passion fruit ice dome over a red velvet and white cake with tonka bean marshmallow goo.
Rhubarb & Co. paired with NV Kourtaki Muscat (Samos, Greece)
Paper thin unripe, green strawberries were surprisingly sweet and pretty on the plate. The Greek Muscat was very nice. A very good Muscat.
Frozen Shattered Cupcake for the Birthday Girl. The Atelier birthday tradition is to bring a cupcake to the table and submerge it in liquid nitrogen to freeze it instantly. A birthday wish is made and then the cupcake is smashed to smithereens by the back of a spoon.