|A taste of the Good Life in Ottawa!|
When the girls are away, it’s our chance for fine dining
And for the Cordon Bleu Bistro, it’s a while we’d been pining?
Though they’ll let you wear jeans, it just won’t feel right…
With that decor and food it would be a real slight!
It’s not for you, if you’re into nickel and diming!
It really is astounding how we can live in a city for most of our lives and still be blissfully unaware of many of its hidden secrets. A case in point was our ignorance of the fact that Ottawa is one of only a handful of cities around the world that boasts its own bona fide Cordon Bleu cooking school. It came to our attention by accident when Gregory, one of our Supper Seven noticed it tucked away at the end of Laurier Avenue just beyond Ottawa University. One evening, when we were otherwise engaged, he took his wife there and gave it rave reviews. Since that time, we had been waiting for a suitable occasion to try it out. When we got a call from the Girl’s father saying that they were going to a pumpkin patch, we knew that our chance had arrived.
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Where we went:It seems that there is already some history behind this restaurant, since until recently, it was the only restaurant in the city to have received Michelin’s coveted 5-Star award. It seems to me that many years ago, the ‘Ruisseau’ dining room in a hotel in Hull that has changed names so many times, I don’t remember what it was called, also earned that accolade! For some reason, The Cordon Bleu Institute decided to ‘downgrade’ the restaurant formerly called ‘Signatures’ to ‘The Bistro at Cordon Bleu’. They now emphasize that they offer casual dining at a more affordable price. I would have liked to have visited before the switch, though my wallet probably would not, since, even now, it could not be considered inexpensive.
When we entered, there was no one to greet us and we were beginning to have some doubts until someone finally appeared and offered to take our coats. From an inauspicious beginning, things then improved immeasurably!
What we ordered: Gregory recalled that the wine that he and Norma had ordered on their previous visit had been particularly good but could not recall its name. Our waiter, also named Gregory, took pains to help him select the correct one. The Château de Courte 2008 is what we finally selected and we were very happy with our choice. Both Dorothy and I elected to go with an appetizer, she the cheese soufflé and I the snails. While we waited, we leisurely sipped our wine and snacked on warm, fresh artisanal bread.
What we got: Rather than attempt to give you a blow by blow, I will let the pictures do the talking. I will say that the snails in a bread basket was probably the best I have ever had! Dorothy also let me taste her cheese soufflé and it melted in the mouth. Clicking on each photo below will give you the description of each dish. Because portion sizes are moderate, we were able to order appetizer, main and desert and still not feel overfull. There are a few things to point out where the pictures do not tell the full story:
- The duck leg served in a pastilla is not visible but it is chopped finely and served in a phyllo pastry shell and reminded me of our recent visit to the Kasbah Village.
- The cake served with the coconut ice cream was definitely not chocolate lava cake though we never determined exactly what it was. (Norma ate it all, so I assume it was good anyway!
- Someone at a neighbouring table ordered the Steak and fries and although it was, in comparison, a large portion of food, the chef managed to make something relatively mundane seem exotic!
Worthy of note: The fact that this is turning into the longest restaurant review that I have ever written, is testament to how much we enjoyed the evening. Still there are additional points that I would be remiss if I did not highlight:
- The reservation system was a little unusual since you are required to leave a message on an answering machine and then receive a call back to confirm!
- A large part of the overall experience is the opulence of the surroundings and the quality of table linens, glassware and cutlery.
- As with many finer restaurants, the full menu and wine list are available on-line. Be aware though that items may change due to availability of ingredients.
- To cap our evening off, our head waiter took us on a full tour of the facility including kitchens, private dining rooms and classrooms. I must admit that it was a little humbling to think of the Un-chef’s own lowly culinary efforts when compared to this industry icon! It was truly an evening to remember!
- Positives: The food should be and was the highlight but service and ambiance was second to none.
- Negatives: The only negative was that the evening came to an end!
- Recommendation: Save this location for that special occasion when you really want to wow your guest(s)!
|Food Quality||*****||Top Notch|
|Overall Rating||*****||Gets 5 from me!|
|Frivolous Foodie Facts|
While Le Cordon Bleu culinary school remains a Parisian icon, the school now operates 30 schools in 15 countries, offering classes in cities as diverse as London, Tokyo, New York, Ottawa and Sydney. According to the school’s website, over 18,000 students from more than 70 countries now attend Le Cordon Bleu each year.