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Juniper Kitchen & Wine Bar: Great dining in Ottawa

15 Oct

I recently went to Ottawa for the weekend, and was quite excited because I had been impressed with their food scene in the past.  I had eaten at the very excellent molecular restaurant L’Atelier and had brunch at Benny’s Bistro.  So, when I knew I was heading back, I once again checked out the local food blogs to find a place to eat using the great site OttawaFoodies.

What I ended up choosing for my evening meal was Juniper Kitchen and Wine Bar.  It seemed reasonably priced, and had a good, though short, menu.

We started off with some drinks.  My boyfriend had their Beau’s All Natural Lug-Tread lagered ale on tap and I had a their cocktail of the day, a mix of lemon and champagne, delicious and refreshing!

At this time, they also served us some bread.  It was a nice mix of different sides of bread, things were looking good for the rest of the meal, we were off to a nice start.

Next was a salmon amuse bouche, served with a dollop of crème fraîche.  Light and fresh, and better because it was unexpected.

One house specialty is the beef tartare, which they change up with different elements.  This time, there was some maple flavoured bacon, corn, jalapeno peppers and lime chips.  My boyfriend and I shared this entrée, which was delicious.  I wasn’t sure about the combination when it was described to me, but on my plate, it was wonderful.  The corn and the bacon made for interesting changes in textures in the tartare.  And, the meatiness of the dish was well balanced with the crunchy, sweet corn and the spicy lime chips, wonderful!

Next, a “trou normand”.  Again, unexpected and therefore that much more appreciated.  It was a fennel and sambuca granité, a great combination.  Fennel has a very sharp taste which combined well with the licorice taste of the sambuca.  A great pause in our delicious meal.

As a main, I had the course of the day, which is constantly changing.  Lobster with mixed greens, braised fennel (amazing!), beets, crunchy chips and hot sauce.  An unexpected mix of tastes and textures, which somehow went together.  Another hit!

My boyfriend had the black angus beef served with some creamy cucumber salad, crunchy chips, raspberries, spinach and gratin dauphinois.  The steak was cooked perfectly and my boyfriend couldn’t stop raving about the creamy cucumber sandwich.

For dessert, I had the strawberry and rhubarb tart served with vanilla ice cream.  The crust was buttery and flaky and the mix of strawberries and rhubarb was a nice mix of sweet and sour.

Finally, before we left, we were offered some candies to go, a sort of butterscotch and coconut mix, which was crunchy and chewy, a perfect sweet bite to end our wonderful meal.

245 Richmond Road, Ottawa, Ontario

613-728-0220

http://www.juniperdining.ca/

Enjoy, bon apétit!

Juniper Kitchen & Wine Bar on Urbanspoon

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Carribean Tasty Treats: Jamaican food in the west island

5 Jul

As someone who loves to eat, I often like to explore different kinds of food, in this case Caribbean food.  Though, I think the name of the restaurant is a bit off since first of, it is misspelled (it should be Caribbean and not Carribean), and also because this restaurant is definitely Jamaican, first and foremost.  Of course, there are some things that are common to most Caribbean food, namely rice and peas, and the use of plantains.  However, the influence in this restaurant is clearly Jamaican.  For example, their plantains are cooked the Jamaican way, that is, the plantains are kept soft and moist as compared to Haitian plantains which are squashed and resemble chips (which is why they are often called banan peze in créole).

Regardless of the influence of the restaurant, I was interested to see what they had to offer, especially given that there are only a few Caribbean restaurants in the west island.  I started with some fish cakes.  At 3 for 1.00$, they are a steal, and they were delicious.  They have a wonderful light consistency with a discreet and pleasant fish taste, highly recommended.

Next, my boyfriend ordered the ackee and codfish.  This is considered the national dish of Jamaica, and is made up of ackee (a type of Jamaican fruit), fish and onions.  It was served with salad, some plantains and some rice and peas.  I personally don’t like this dish because of my intense hatred for onions, but my boyfriend said it was amazing, and the portion was big enough that he was stuffed afterwards.

I ordered the curry chicken.  The spice level was not very high, and the curry provided a great balance for the plantains, which have a bit of a sweet taste to them, great for dipping in the curry sauce.  I found the plantains to be too few in my plate so I ordered an extra side-dish of them.  I found the rice a bit too dry, I would have liked if they had offered gravy to go with it.  The salad, which I was too stuffed to eat, had some apple slices in it, making it one notch better than your average garden salad.

I had eaten at this restaurant once before and ordered takeout once as well, but I have to say this was my best experience.  When we ordered takeout, I had the chicken rôti, which is considered a Trinidad and Tobago specialty.  While it was good, it had bone-in chicken pieces in it.  Considering that rôti resembles a type of flaky crêpe which is filled with meat or fish, potatoes and vegetables in curry sauce, the fact that I had to be careful of bones was problematic in my mind, and I won’t be ordering that again.  As for the last time we went to the restaurant, we had gone on a Sunday night where there were too many patrons for the staff, and we had to wait very long for service.  That time, I had also noticed that they did not give us any plantains in our dish and the portions were very small.

Luckily, this last time, the service was excellent, the portions bigger, and there were plantains in my plate.  Obviously, this is not a high-end restaurant, but with the recent improvements in portion size and service (which may be normal for a fairly new restaurant just starting up), I will definitely be going there again for my Jamaican fix.

Enjoy, Bon Apétit!

Caribbean Tasty Treats

4410 Boulevard des Sources, Dollard-des-Ormeaux, Qc H8Y 3B7

514-542-4410

http://caribtastytreats.com/

Carribean Tasty Treats on Urbanspoon