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Posts Tagged ‘♥s’

J’adore Edgar

Edgar caféfrontI feel an inexplicable connection to Edgar, a new neighbourhood café near Parc Moussette in Hull.

Maybe it’s because I have my own dream of opening a little hospitality-related place, something like a bed & breakfast. Since I discovered in late September that Marysol of she eats bears was opening a café, I watched with admiration and anticipation as she made one of her dreams come true. It takes courage to do that. And smarts. And perseverance. I wish her success. Based on the buzz around the café’s opening, the growing chorus of glowing reviews, the packed tables, and sold-out menu items, I have no doubt she will be successful!

Maybe it’s also because I’d like to create a connection to Marysol herself. I barely know her, but she seems like the kind of person I’d like to get to know better – Someone down-to-earth who shares a passion for good food. Luckily now I can go to Edgar, and if it’s not super busy, chat a little. She already gave me a baking tip the other day!

In any case, the strongest connection is the tangible one. It’s going into a chic little café,  feeling the positive energy, and being greeted with a warm smile. Of course, there’s the delicious food – homemade with love.

Edgar kitchen and menu

Some tools of the trade. Where good food is made.

Edgar inside

Small stylish interior with a selection of homebaked sweets including the infamous brioche in the background. My order disappeared too quickly to be photographed!

I’ve tried several of Marysol’s creations, all fresh, flavourful and prepared with flair: cheddar and apple panini with caramelized onions (sweet and savoury harmony), Vietnamese sandwich (crisp and delicately spicy), breakfast wrap with egg, goat cheese, bacon, mushrooms and greens (fresh yet hearty), date and bacon brioche with orange glaze (sweet originality made better with bacon), Edgar bar (curiously nutty and delicious), and the apple-pecan muffin (wholesome caramel-y goodness). The coffee is good too! Edgar serves my ideal cappuccino: a “small” cup with perfect proportions of coffee, milk, and foam.

Fresh flowers at Edgar

Fresh flowers, just one of the pleasant little details at Edgar.

Why I ♥ Edgar

  • Soups, sandwiches and sweets are made from scratch, with love and local ingredients (sometimes from her own backyard).
  • Creative flavour combinations. There’s some serious tastiness coming out of the tiny kitchen.
  • Menu changes every day based on what’s fresh, the season and the inspiration du jour. I love handwritten menu on chalkboards!
  • Everything is served with a smile.
  • The cash receipt reads “miam miam miam.” Oh, how true!
  • Fresh frozen soups and meals to go.
  • Simple, stylish and cozy interior.
  • Marysol’s blog makes my mouth water – tasty recipes and beautiful pictures – and you can see how Edgar took shape.
  • Edgar is just off the Voyageurs bike path in Gatineau, a short ride from Wellington West and Westboro!

Things to be aware of:

  • Go early (especially if you’re looking to try the infamous brioche)! On busy days, Edgar will sell out.
  • Be prepared to take your order to go. It’s not unusual to find all 11 seats taken.

Edgar on Urbanspoon

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Whalesbone oyster shucker

Shucking oysters for one of many oyster platters served at Whalesbone.

The Whalesbone Oyster House gets positive press and comes highly recommended by friends. I finally made it there last week and it was love at first bite, literally. Soon after being seated, we were served bread and butter. The butter was different. It had a nutty, toasted flavour. Beautiful. Turns out they heat butter until the milk solids caramelize (make brown butter/ beurre noisette), then mix it back into softened butter. Wow, what a great start!

Although there were several tempting dishes on the menu, we chose the four-course tasting menu. When asked if we had any allergies, I suddenly realized I had a dilemma… I don’t like seafood. Fish, yes. Seafood, not so much (and I’ve tried). But either the whole table takes it or no-one gets it. So, I went for it (no mussels or clams) and thankfully so! Not only did I try new things, but the meal was simply sublime.

Scallop tartare

Scallop tartare with cucumber. A delectable mouthful, captured just before the last bite disappeared.

First, tender and sweetly of sea-tasting scallops contrasting with the sweet crunch of cucumbers and the salty crunch of fleur de sel, balanced by the acidity of a blood orange vinaigrette, rounded out by soft, creamy goat cheese.

Second, bright green spring peas and asparagus with grilled morels and fresh herbs hosting the red-speckled flesh of a lobster claw.

At this point, all the tables around us were getting fresh oysters. David couldn’t resist. We ordered a four-oyster palate cleanser. The XL Angel from B.C. was the size of the palm of my hand. We discovered the difference in taste between farm bed-raised oysters and ones finished on the beach, i.e. left to roll in the surf. The latter have more flavour. We also learned how baby oysters are made.

Then, salmon on a bed of pre-summer succotash (corn, tomatoes, small gnocchi, ramps). And, to end it all, sundaes with Pascale’s vanilla ice cream and deliciously fun and fresh toppings.

As I left the restaurant, I almost felt guilty. Did I cheat on the Wellington Gastropub, my other favourite restaurant? Blushing yes. My first date at Whalesbone was such an exceptional experience, that it now shares first place for favourite restaurant on my palate.

Why I ♥ Whalesbone Oyster House

  • The food is fresh and perfectly prepared. I want to say that you can tell there are women in the kitchen, but there’s no way I could prove that!
  • It’s Ocean Wise certified. The fish, oysters and seafood come from sustainable sources.
  • Staff is friendly, attentive, patient, and knowledgeable.
  • The kitchen is tiny and open. You can see the chef at work. The counter that divides the kitchen from the restaurant is home to fresh sprouts. Snip and plate.
  • The restaurant is cozy. The atmosphere is happy, warm and welcoming. There’s a sense of humour in the décor.
  • Chances are high that you’ll have a friendly conversation with the people at the next table.
  • It has a retail store, where you can buy fresh fish, oysters and seafood, smoked fish and a brown bag lunch.

Things to be aware of:

  • It’s snug. Not much space for private conversations.
  • Seating is limited. Best to make a reservation.

Story from our evening at Whalesbone Oyster House

On May 12, La Presse published an article about Ottawa, which listed some of the great shops and restaurants in Ottawa. Whalesbone was on the list. As we were digging into dessert, two older gentlemen came into the restaurant with this article from La Presse. No tables available, so they took two seats at the bar. It turns out they had come from Montreal to eat at Whalesbone! No doubt, it was worth the drive.

Epilogue

It’s May 23 and I just found a blog post by Lynne Frappier—from inside the kitchen on that same evening—about the same two gentlemen!

Whalesbone Oyster House on Urbanspoon

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Asparagus appetizer at the Wellington Gastropub.

The highlight of my Gastropub meal on Friday, April 30. This appetizer captured perfectly, and simply, the spirit of spring: asparagus with bearnaise, lardons and truffle oil.

For me, there are few better ways of spending an evening—and my money—than discovering and enjoying good food. Food is entertainment (and much more); our spending on other leisure activities is minimal. It’s no surprise then that sometimes I think we could have a budget line dedicated to the Wellington Gastropub. It’s our neighbourhood restaurant and we end up going there about every 2 months. Although there are many others, we always gravitate toward the Gastropub. It offers good value on the plate, and we know the food will be tasty and fresh. But the service is, in my opinion, what really sets it apart.

On our very first visit 3 years ago, we were greeted warmly and made to feel that we were important to them. It’s still the same today. By now, they know our names and we know theirs. We have conversations with them about where the food comes from, exchange tasting notes, tips and other food adventures. It’s a personalized and highly enjoyable dining experience. As a result, we probably allow ourselves to indulge a little more at the Gastropub, but we are also recognized from time to time for our loyalty, which only strengthens the relationship. I realize that this is smart business for them, but I do believe it’s sincere, smart business. And, the food is consistently good. Few restaurants in town manage to get the whole equation right.

Since they seem to have adjusted the size of their mains (portions used to be so generous, that it was often too much), I would make only one suggestion: add more vegetables to your plates!

Why I ♥ the Wellington Gastropub

  • The food is contemporary, fresh and well-prepared.
  • The quality is consistent.
  • The menu is small, changes daily, and features local producers.
  • The portions provide good value on the plate.
  • There’s a changing selection of Ontario beers on tap and a good by-the-glass wine selection.
  • The servers are congenial, knowledgeable, enthusiastic, and unpretentious.
  • The atmosphere is convivial and casual.

Things to be aware of:

  • Book early for tables on Friday and Saturday nights, but reservations are probably best any night of the week.
  • The menu gets put up shortly before the restaurant opens (and the website only has a sample), so you’re in the hands of the chef.
  • It can get loud/noisy as the evening wears on.
  • Some interesting music choices in the background.

Story from an evening at Wellington Gastropub

Family friends Erwin and Josette Doebeli are the ultimate restaurateurs and veterans of the Vancouver food scene. David and I had the pleasure of hosting them in Ottawa, one of the stops on their cross-Canada motorcycle tour. We brought them to dinner at the Gastropub and had a delightful evening there. Our server Ivan kept up with our guests’ quick wit and there was fun, friendly banter when each course and the wine were served. The food was delicious. Now this couple knows excellent food and service when they experience it. Upon leaving the restaurant, they declared it was the best meal they had in their multi-month travels from the East Coast to the West Coast!

Wellington GastroPub on Urbanspoon

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