Thursday, September 9, 2010

The Urban Pear and Chef Ben Baird – Another Gold Medal Plates Competing Chef

Of the list of competing chefs at this year's
Gold Medal Plates in Ottawa, there are a few that I have not had the pleasure of experiencing their creations. Chef Ben Baird from the Urban Pear is one of them. Having won Bronze in both 2009 and 2007, I had been looking forward to dining at this neighbourhood local for a while. And my experience was a good one!

I started by making my reservation online. When you're swamped at work and just need to get something so simple like that done, having the option is brilliant.

I was so excited when I got to the restaurant, both for the food experience, and the company we had set to spend the evening with. Tony and Cathy both love food as much as we do and our time together is always very fun. The atmosphere, big beautiful windows, colourful walls and softly lit tables were the final touch I needed to relax after a crazy work week. Even the noisiness of the many conversations going on around us seemed to get more muffled after we sat down.

The menu, small but comprehensive, left nothing to hide. Every mouthwatering detail of each dish described to a T. I hadn't felt this indecisive about anything in a while. It took all of me to finally make some choices. And the best one I made was on my appetizer.

Three discs of pan seared sea scallops, so plump and juicy inside, piled onto a thin sesame crepe stuffed with sautéed corn, cabbage, leek, garlic & ginger, followed by a rink of raspberry-miso glaze and topped with a green onion and preserved lemon pesto – and yes, it was better than you can imagine. Seriously to die for.

My husband was also happy with his app, Tomato, double smoked bacon and white bean salad dressed with almond and basil pesto, cornmeal crusted calamari, nasturtium leaf slurry and heirloom tomato coulis.

Cathy and I ordered the same main, pan seared west coast sockeye salmon. I ordered it mostly for the chèvre gnocchi that came along with it, but unfortunately it was undercooked and the doughiness overpowered the cheese inside. The salmon on the other hand, was spicy and flavourful, perched over a roasted heirloom carrot salad with broccoli and tomatoes. Roasted tomatillo, cilantro & fresh chili pepper sauce brought everything together nicely.

Much more successful was my husband's Canadian lamb sirloin with crispy green olive and chick pea polenta, creamy organic cabbage, sautéed cherry tomatoes with cinnamon cap mushrooms, and tomato broth mounted with a tarragon aioli. Delicious.

The men and their meat enjoyed a bold red from Sandhill Estate Vineyard, “One”. A blend of Cab Sauvignon, Petit Verdot and Malbec. It was REALLY nice (I had to try it). Cathy and I shared the Southbrook Triomphe Sauvignon Blanc, also very good and the perfect pairing for our salmon.

Although I found the service to be a bit slow and unattentive, the food, atmosphere and company were more than enough to make my night a huge success.

You can also experience some of Chef Baird's magical creations at the Gold Medal Plates.
To purchase tickets, contact Sue Holloway (contact information below) or click here.

Gold Medal Plates Ottawa
Tuesday, November 16, 2010 6:00 pm
National Arts Centre
53 Elgin Street

Sue Holloway
818 Nesbitt Place
(613)274-3107 phone
(613)274-0851 fax

The Urban Pear on Urbanspoon

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