Thursday, August 14, 2014

Atelier, Ottawa

12-course tasting menu at Atelier ($110)
Optional wine pairing ($75)

Executive Chef, Marc Lepine (bio from Atelier's website):

"After 3 years of culinary school, Marc Lepine spent time working in Toronto, France, and Italy, before accepting his first executive chef position with Bartlett Lodge in Algonquin Park in 1998. Marc decided to move to Ottawa in 2001 with the intent to eventually open a restaurant. He received his sommelier certification from Algonquin College and spent 6 years working as executive chef for the Courtyard Restaurant, where he was twice named 'Ottawa Chef of the Year' by the Canadian Culinary Federation. Marc decided it was time to open Atelier in 2008, and while the restaurant was preparing to launch, Marc went to work with Grant Achatz at Alinea Restaurant in Chicago. In February 2012, Marc was named the Canadian Culinary Champion after winning gold at the finals in Kelowna, BC."



Roasted red beet puree, thinly sliced beets compressed in yuzu, cherry tomatoes, cucumbers, radishes, shallots, purple cauliflower, baby radish, edible flowers, wood sorrel, carrot sprout

Pan-seared albacore tuna loin crusted in toasted black sesame, wakame legos, cucumber marshmallow, round coconut gel sheet, wasabi oil powder and black olive crumble, crispy beet chips, dots of tequila and lemon fluid gel

Pickerel cheeks marinated in piri piri spices, wrapped in minced phyllo pastry and fried, green olives, green garlic mayonnaise, crispy smoked paprika and vanilla chips, lemon saffron curl, dehydrated bay leaf and caper powder.

Octopus cooked sous vide and marinated in salsa verde, poached mussel seasoned with chili oil, charred heart of palm, radish pods, clementine and orange gel, braised fennel, sweet rice noodles, pattypan sliced and compressed in lemon

Snow crab salad, pickled grapes and grapes shattered in liquid nitro, segments of tomatillo, cold almond soup

Steamed buns stuffed with braised lamb belly, napa cabbage salad with kimchi dressing, pickles, herb pesto, fresh radishes, cilantro, sheep yogurt. Romaine lettuce wrap, lamb bresaola, candied pistachios, tahini sauce, manchego cheese

Pea sphere, sweet peas from Prince Edward County, pearl purple onions, purple carrots cooked sous vide, vegetables tossed in mint butter, apricots, toasted pine nuts, basil pesto, fresh mint, marigold

Aloe vera snow, pineapple compressed in vanilla syrup, aerated star anise caramel, crunchy star anise caramel meringue, fresh basil, basil crystals

Quail cooked sous vide and pan seared, sautéed shiitake mushrooms, confit potatoes, pan seared garlic scape, quinoa cooked in juice from tomato confit, bonito flakes, dots of parsnip and sumac puree, pickled lovage, quail jus

Rib eye cooked sous vide and pan seared, dandelion and horseradish salad, sautéed white turnips, parsley leaf puree, dots of sweet potato puree, truffled sour cream, truffled bread pudding, sweet potato chips, bagel seasoning

Nitro napkin.

Dome of frozen strawberry puree topped with basil meringue and corn pop cereal crumble. Inside:  blackberries, black raspberries, strawberries, and gooseberries with more meringue and fresh basil


Quebec fresh strawberries, strawberry chips, dots of strawberry puree, flexible dark chocolate pudding, soft honey and orange cake, toasted hazelnut crumble, tonka bean ice cream

Chef Lepine's 12-course tasting menu at Atelier is modern, whimsical, and eclectic. Working in the tradition of molecular gastronomy / progressive cuisine, Lepine (@MarcLepine) entices diners by taking the freshest Canadian ingredients and, using scientific techniques, gives them exciting new tastes and textures. Dishes were concocted with dozens of components and yet all beautifully balanced in flavour. Every course had an element of surprise, and every plate was simultaneously thought provoking, fun, and delicious, and most importantly ingredients were used with purpose. Clocked at three hours from the start to finish, the pace of the dinner was just right. Not once did I feel like it was dragging on - it actually felt more like an hour instead of three. Service was attentive but unobtrusive, and at the end of the evening Sommelier Steve Robinson even invited me to visit the kitchen to meet the Chef. I felt so honoured! 

I couldn't have asked for a better dining experience and I am absolutely in love with the food at Atelier. And yes, I would go back to Atelier in a heartbeat...even if it's a 4.5 hour drive away.

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