Tuesday, September 2, 2014

The Albion Rooms, Ottawa

Thanks to my friend Don's recommendation, I stopped by The Albion Rooms for lunch when I was in Ottawa last month. I was only in town for four days so I had to make the best of my road trip. If you're ever heading to the O dot and looking for dining options, do what I did - check out Don's food blog foodiePrints or hit them up on Twitter at @foodiePrints - you'll soon realize that Don and Jenn knows everything food related in Ottawa! When I told Don where I was staying and that I wanted some lunch options in the area, he quickly suggested The Albion Rooms.

Opened at Novotel Ottawa Hotel in April 2013, The Albion Rooms serves up rustic yet contemporary, farm-to-table Canadian cuisine. According to the restaurant's website, chef Stephen La Salle (@TheSKLaSalle) of The Albion Rooms calls his food “Contemporary Country Canadian”:

"...he pulls in different contemporary elements of Canadian cuisine with a country rustic style to produce plates that are modern but familiar. In paying homage to “Albion” (our British settlers) Chef Stephen plays with subtle British undertones in the food that will definitely stand alone."

 When I walked into the restaurant, I quickly learned that La Salle will be one of ten chefs participating in Ottawa’s regional Gold Medal Plates on November 17th! Founded in 2003, Gold Medal Plates is a prestigious, national culinary competition where chefs from 11 cities across Canada compete to win gold, silver and bronze medals.

The beautiful bar is most definitely the focal point at The Albion Rooms. However, the restaurant also houses a cozy lounge area, a large outdoor patio and a modest dining room.

Check out the glass enclosed charcuterie room. Very cool.

I usually don't eat this much for lunch but I'm on vacation so don't judge...

House made rimmer, pickle juice, hot sauce, spiced syrup, a dash of red wine, dill infused Vodka and Walter Caesar. Garnished with Seed to Sausage capicollo, chorizo and salami.

Bacon, Caramelized Onion, Lentils

6 Minute Egg, House Made Pork Rillette, Minty Peas, Pickled Carrots

Elk Burger (18)
“Elk Ranch” Elk Patty, Old Cheddar, Seed to Sausage Black Pepper Molasses Bacon, Lettuce, Tomato, Buttermilk & Peppercorn Ranch, Thrice Chips 

Thrice Chips

Lake Erie Pickerel, Smoked Oyster-Horseradish Tartar, Lemon-Thyme Beer Batter, Thrice Chips with Parmesan 

If lunch is any indication, then I know dinners at The Albion Rooms must be wonderful as well (I fully plan on having dinner there the next time I'm in Ottawa.) I knew I was at the right place the moment I laid eyes on “The Marcus Brutus”. Not only was the generous garnish of capicola, chorizo, and salami visually mesmerizing, the cocktail itself was rich, savoury, sour, sweet and spicy all at once. The thick rimmer was also stellar as it had both salty and candied notes. La Salle's scotch egg is a must-order. Consisting of a 6-minute chicken egg encased in house made pork rillette, the scotch egg was impeccably deep fried with an outer crispy layer while keeping a lovely runny yolk.

I'm always game for game burgers (pun intended). The elk burger here was cooked to a nice medium rare - the best done-ness for elk as it is a very lean meat. And because elk is a very mild-tasting venison, most probably the least gamey of all venison, the robust flavours from the black pepper molasses bacon, cheddar, and the buttermilk & peppercorn ranch really help accentuates the meat. The burger as a whole was excellent and its burger-to-bun ratio was spot on. Moving on to the fish n'chips, it's refreshing to see it done with pickerel rather than the usual halibut or cod. Fried to a nice golden brown with a light batter coating, the pickerel was moist and firm yet mildly flaky. I wouldn't have fish n' chips any other way. It's too bad I didn't have enough stomach room to finish those thrice cooked chips (I only had a few). Triple cooked chips, originally developed by English chef Heston Blumenthal, involves the chips first being simmered and then cooled and drained of water using a sous-vide technique or by freezing, deep fried and again cooled, and finally deep fried again. La Salle's thrice chips were brilliant. Fried nearly all the way through, the chips had an extremely crispy and crunchy crust with a middle that packs a dense bit of potato and a surprisingly creamy centre.

Related Post:
Atelier, Ottawa

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