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Mar 15

Ottawa’s Secret Garden: Les Jardins de la Cité

Les Jardins de la Cité

Girls' Night Out with the guys at La Cité

Les Jardins

Les Jardins de la Cité: A study in elegance!
I must admit that this is quite a hard place to find
But it’s well worth the effort to discover a venue of this kind.
They may still be students but the service is above par,
With this kind of training they are sure to go far.
And, yes, the food’s really good, so I’m sure you won’t mind!

It is a sad fact that many of us are blissfully unaware of many of the treasures that our local areas have to offer. Even if we are vaguely aware of many of them, we never take the time or trouble to check them out. As an example, I must admit that after almost 35 years of living in Ottawa, I have not visited inside the parliament buildings or climbed the Peace Tower.

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When it comes to restaurants, the Nation’s Capital has a true wealth of gastronomic adventures just waiting to be experienced and yet many of us stay within our limited comfort zone and thereby miss out on a great deal. I hope that by exposing some of the more eclectic ones here in these pages that you may be encouraged to broaden your horizons just a little and try something new and different for a change.

Where we went: For quite a few years now, Girls Night Out (GNO) has appeared almost monthly on our calendar. It is a remnant of our former foray into the world of  Tupperware, once known as the company of friends. In our case, it has certainly lived up to its moniker, since, some 15 years later, our little group still meets on a regular basis, though it has morphed a little, since men now make up almost 50% of the total and the ‘girls’ are at least young ladies by now.  ;-)

On this particular occasion, we had once again selected Les Jardins de la Cité, part of the Cité Collègiale in Gloucester (just off the Aviation Parkway between Ogilvie and Monreal Rds.) We were fortunate to be made aware of this venue by Lyne, one of our group who actually works at the college. This would be our third visit to the restaurant operated by staff and students of the department of  hotel and restaurant management. They are only open Wednesday thru Friday evenings and reservations are mandatory. Don’t be fooled by the fact that it is largely the students doing the preparation and serving; both the food and service are everything you would expect in a first-class restaurant. 

What we ordered: Each night, there is a table d’hôte with several choices available. The menu is always posted online well in advance so that you can know ahead of time whether a particular evening will suit the palettes of your group. It just so happens that our group of six between us sampled every single item on this particular evenings menu. 

What we got: Fortunately, most of our group was cognisant of the fact that I am author of this blog and so offered their plate(s) up to be photographed before they tucked in. Therefore, in the gallery below, you will find shots of most of the items on the menu, with the notable exception of the beef consommé which although delicious, declined to pose for our camera (or at least wouldn’t focus for the shot!)

 For me, the stand-outs were the Feuilleté aux Fruits de Mer and the Sabayon. Although the wine cellar is less than extensive, Les jardins features a ‘Wine of the week’ which this particular week happened to be Gato Negro. Until this writing, I did not realize that Gato Negro is actually the generic wine or estate name and not that of a particular vintage; rather like Black Tower, which now comes in various blends and varietals where once it was a single type. Therefore, I cannot tell you what varietal or year this wine really was but it did go well with our selections.

Worthy of note: There is a lot that makes Les Jardins de la Cité a unique experience. The first is its location, hidden amidst the college campus on the 2nd floor of an otherwise nondescript building. The parking lot is quite a ways away and navigating to the restaurant is no easy feat. Remember to keep your receipt stub and they will refund your cost in cash when you settle your bill. The only fare available is what is on the daily table d’hôte menu, so be sure to check it online when you book to avoid any problems with guests with dietary concerns etc.

Summary

  • Positives: Great food, great ambiance, good price.
  • Negatives: Poor location, only open  for 3 lunches and evenings per week, parking is difficult and far away!
  • Recommendation: If you’re looking for something elegant and different on a tight budget, this is your place!
  • Website: http://www.lacitec.on.ca/services/les_jardins.htm
Category Rating Explanation
Food Quality **** Great
Price $$$ Worth every penny
Decor **** elegant but casual
Service **** Top notch
Overall Rating **** Superior


Frivolous Foodie Facts
A sabayon,(a cousin of the light, egg-based Italian dessert zabaglione),is made by beating egg yolks with a liquid over simmering water until thickened and increased in volume. The liquid can be water, but champagne or wine is often used for a savoury sabayon. Sabayon may be served warm or cold

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