Absinthe Cafe

29 Jul

Marble sculptures of fire hydrants topped with vegetables decorate corners along Wellington St. West in a neighborhood called Wellington Village. It’s an area in transition from a staid to hip, offers interesting private boutiques, a few specialty bars, nouveau-hippie stores, and reputedly great restaurants. One of these is the Absinthe Café.

The restaurant has a very unpretentious storefront with large windows facing the street, and the neat, but understated, décor is infused with great vibes. As a member of Savour Ottawa, the owners are committed to locally sourced ingredients and their community involvement includes donating a dollar to Cornerstone Housing for Women for each Benevolent Burger
sold.
Absinthe-exterior-72
Yet, the Absinthe Café is not a burger joint. Selection from their gourmet menu proved to be somewhat difficult simply because so many tempting plates were offered. I finally ordered Escargot on baby portebello mushroom caps in a duxelles with tarragon and cream ($11). The snails were perfect: tender, clean yet distinct taste accented by the garlic and cheese. The mushroom caps added another dimension to this traditional French dish. To accompany it I chose a Marisco 2012 Savignon Blanc from New Zealand.

Escargo

Escargo

Asparagus Soup

Asparagus Soup

Since I was sampling rather than opting for the Table d’Hote menu, I also savored their asparagus soup, a velouté toped with crème fraîche and an asparagus salsa. ($7). The Rosemary Roasted Halibut, a fine herb velouté and ragout with overnight tomatoes, asparagus, and roasted red pepper ($30) was a tour de force. Each individual vegetable was cooked to perfection—no small feat when each has a different cooking time—and blended together like the music of a fine chamber orchestra.

Halibut Ragout

Halibut Ragout

The food was absolutely flawless, the wine and beer list excellent, and, of course, a complete line of absinthe and absinthe drinks are available. Since I was riding a motorcycle, sampling
their line of absinthe was not feasible.
Absinthe-interior-72
Absinthe Café, 1208 Wellington St. West, Ottawa 613-761-1138 http://www.absinthecafe.ca

Wellington Village is part of what is generally referred to as Hintonburg and it is extremely easy to reach: from the scenic Sir John A McDonald Parkway along the Ottawa River, exit at Parkdale Avenue and go south to Wellington St.; from the Trans-Canadian 401 take Exit 122 / Parkdale Ave and go north.

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