|If you’ve got the time, Fraser’s a great place to Dine!|
Fraser’s Café is the Un-Chef’s kind of place,
We urge you to try the chef’s daily surprise,
If cafés were cards, then Fraser’s an ace!
Sometimes, the best dining experiences come when they are not planned! So it was that on a recent Thursday evening, we had just dropped our son off at Pub Italia on Preston Street and had an appointment for coffee and dessert with friends in Beacon Hill. The problem was that we had not yet eaten supper and had no time to go back home and cook. Suddenly, it occurred to me that I had recently added Fraser Café to my wish-list of places to eat and being located on Springfield Road in New Edinburgh in Ottawa’s East End, it was en route to our final destination. Many years ago (too many put actually put in print), we used to rent an apartment just off Beechwood but now that we live in Beacon Hill, we do not often find ourselves in this recently revitalized, now trendy area of the city.
Where we went: Fraser Café has been on my radar for some time now since it has been favourably reviewed on many of the local blog and foodie sites that I frequent. This evening, being just my wife and I, we decided that some slightly more sophisticated dining was appropriate. I wondered whether we would have a problem with not having made a reservation, but hoped that with it not being the week-end that we would be lucky. Although there was no line as we entered the restaurant, it was immediately apparent that the place was full. It turned out that the only two tables in the restaurant available were with ‘high stools’ . The first one offered was a little to close to the hot kitchen for my liking, so we opted for the one closer to the entrance.
Indeed the first thing that was apparent was that although the open kitchen made for a great atmosphere, it also meant that the kitchen heat wafted out into the dining area and the A/C unit was obviously incapable of handling the extra load. Although it was a little warmer than one might have liked, it was not a deal breaker for us (but IS the main reason we could not award 5 stars below).
What we ordered: Our waiter came promptly and welcomed us like he meant it, handing us a simple one-page menu with a handful of starters and main courses. Having already done some research, I already knew that I was going to try the ‘Chef’s Surprise’. Since we were relatively tight for time, we opted to forgo the starter which could also include a daily special. In the end, we both opted for the special after it had been explained that it would remain unknown until it arrived at our table, since it could change several times during an evening and that often couples like ourselves would be served to entirely different dishes. Although this might be slightly risky for some (with allergies for example), we liked the idea. While we were waiting, we were served some delicious, warm and crusty, home-made bread. It certainly made the wait less painful.
What we got: In case ours is the only review that you read, we should point out here that since each plate is individually crafted, waiting times may well be a little longer than you may be used to. Fortunately, we were pre-warned and therefore it came as no surprise. Just as the waiter had predicted, Dorothy and I were served two entirely different dishes and fortunately for us each one of us had a preference for one over the other. Personally, duck is a personal favourite and the pan-seared duck breast pictured was perfectly cooked and accompanied with sauteed potatoes and a medley of vegetables and mango compote. It tasted as good as it looked and smelled.
For her part, Dorothy was just as happy with her halibut steak served over Orzo noodles again with a medley of fresh vegetable and a sauce that I can no longer recall, except to say that from the small sample that I tasted I would have been almost as happy with her dish as my own.
Unfortunately, due to time constraints and the fact that we were invited elsewhere, we had to forgo dessert and coffee, but I am sure that there will be another chance soon…..
Worthy of note: Parking can be a bit of a challenge since there is little or no street parking on Springfield Road and Fraser Café does not have its own lot. We parked a couple of blocks away and were happy to walk but for some this could be a negative. Both of the owners (brothers) are actively engaged in the business and usually are in full view which adds some character to the overall experience. The whole atmosphere can be summed up in the German word ‘gemütlich’ for which the best translation I can offer is ‘cozy’ but it does not fully convey the true nuance.
- Positives: Small restaurant with intimate atmosphere. Food prepared in open kitchen before your very eyes. Daily specials were outstanding.
- Negatives: Rather warm and crowded! Prices were high but not outrageous and, in our view, worth the extra
- Recommendation: We will definitely be going back sooner rather than later!
|Price||$$$||Worth every penny!|
|Decor||****||Hot but cool!|
|Overall Rating||****||Actually 4.5*|
Related terms: Fraser's Cafe Ottawa, Fraser's Cafe Mt Eden, Fraser Cafe New Edinburgh, Liz's Ham Cafe Fraser MI