Sunday, July 19, 2009

Navarra (Happy Anniversary to Me!)

Has it been one year already!? I just don't believe it. One year ago tomorrow (July 20th) I started my blog. My how time has flown by, eating and drinking and eating some more. When I look back at all the fantastic dishes I've had I can't help but think I must be the luckiest woman in the world. Not only do the memories make me happy, but the people who have tried some of these dishes or chosen restaurants based on my reviews also makes me very happy. Why settle for anything less when there's so much good food out there? That was our topic of conversation last night at dinner. We are Maritimers and I have to say that besides lobster, that I adore, the restaurant choices and availability of unique ingredients isn't as easy to get as it is here in Ottawa. Because of that, we have become food snobs, expecting only the best no matter where we go. And why shouldn't we? It's our hard earned dollar going on what we hope to be a marvelous experience. And speaking of a marvelous experience, I saw it only fit to dine at Navarra this weekend to celebrate this milestone, since they are the reason I started this blog, and since my mother-in-law was in town (she was also with us that night one year ago). They're also on my favourite foodie block. And one of the first restaurants I recommend when asked for a referral. So has my rating changed since my last review? Not at all!

It started quite similarly to our first visit, being super happy with the service. I called to make a reservation and they were delighted to receive my call. I was afraid my expectations would be too high, since I had built up the experience in my head. Really I had nothing to worry about. I'd been since our first visit and everything remained equally wonderful. Why would it change now?

We started off with a bottle of Pago de Cirsus. A 2005 Tempranillo/Merlot/Cab Sauvignon from Navarra. Sadly, this wine is not available at the LCBO. I would return for this alone, it was fantastic. I wish my wine knowledge was better than it is, then I could properly explain the flavours. I just know what I like, and I loved this wine. I found a description online that I'll share with the wine connoisseurs out there. Deep garnet with russet edges, lots of peppery spice and balsamic notes, with a long finish. Lots of red fruit and vanilla roasted coffee from the oak. This also went very well with the amuse-bouche they brought us. A gorgonzola and fig roulette with apple butter and roasted beets. Um, could I have 10 more please? The apple butter reminded me of my mother-in-law's apple crisp. So comforting.

Next came my appetizer, the Chef's Signature Beef Tartare – lacquered serrano ham-parmesan leather, basque guindilla peppers, gribiche, crostinis. This was a more mild beef tartare than I am used to which was quite nice because you could actually taste the beef more than anything. Most tartares I find to be quite a bit more flavourful, which is nice, but you loose a lot of the meat's natural flavours. I find a lot of dishes at Navarra are like that. You really taste the main ingredient, it's not hidden by anything and always paired with ingredients to complement it. The ham-parm leather was also a fun addition to the plate, sweet and salty.

For my main, the Roasted Lamb Rack was screaming out at me, and I thank god I heard it's call. This rich and tender lamb was cooked to perfection, done medium-rare (although arrived closer to rare, which is what I prefer) and so juicy. Again, the taste of the lamb complemented by the ingredients that were so carefully placed around it, but not overpowered by anything. It was served with goat cheese-potato coulant, baby summer vegetables, serrano jus, espelette. The baby vegetables included carrots cooked al-dente, turnip, peas, beets and even a tomato sitting in this sweet yummy sauce on the corner of the plate.

Last but certainly not least, I ordered the 2 Textures of Amedei Chocolate, a self saucing fondant, mousse, berries, cocoa earth (crumbles of crisp chocolaty goodness) and pear chutney. A wonderful way to end the evening, especially paired with a sweet glass of sherry (ask your server for a recommendation and you can't go wrong). I had the East India Solera and it was very good.

The atmosphere is relaxing, the service impeccable and the food to die for. If you want a beautiful evening out with guaranteed great service and a meal you'll never forget, this is the place to go.

Navarra on Urbanspoon


Alana said...

Hi Rachelle

That meal looks delicious, we always end up at Murray Street but I will definitely try Navarra now

I intended to start a food blog a little while ago, but I find it’s easier to just read yours!

One thing I wanted to ask you was whether or not you had any recommendations for a ‘foodie wedding’ in Ottawa (we’re quite new to the area). We’re looking at venue options, and we love to eat, so we want to make sure that the food is great. If you had any recommendations from functions you had been to, I would really appreciate it.

Rachelle said...

I love Murray Street too. But definitely give Navarra a try!

And yay! i'm so glad you enjoy mine. Please let me know if you ever do decide to start a blog, I'd love to follow it.

As for your last question, immediately The Urban Element comes to mind.
They do personalized meals for groups (not sure up to how big) and the space they do it in is fantastic. Definitely check this place out. I've been to demonstrations, cooking classes, discussions and a christmas party and I can only rave about how wonderful each experience has been from the food to the staff to the atmosphere. I also know (not sure up to what size group) that Benny's Bistro chef Scott Adams does private group dinners. He's a fantastic chef, totally worth checking out. He also does classes at the Urban Element, so you may be able to combine the two.
Last but not least, The Whalesbone also does catering and sit-down meals. Again, not sure up to what size group but if you're a seafood fan, oysters especially, they're worth checking out. I personally haven't been to one of these, but if it's anything like the restaurant experience i'm sure it's great.

You can't go wrong with either of these.

Good luck with whatever you decide.

Alana said...

Thanks so much for the recommendations, I will definitely check those out, the wedding will be small(ish) so a private dinner may be the way to go

You should hire out your husband as a chef, his dinners always sound fantastic !!!

We’ll have plenty of fun menu sampling in the meantime no doubt

Thanks again

Rachelle said...

He is pretty good at feeding a lot of people!

All those places would be perfect for a small(ish) group.I'd love to hear what you end up doing and how it goes.

Keep me posted.

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