Beckta Dining & Wine (613) 238-7063 www.beckta.com
226 Nepean St., Ottawa, ON
Rating: 5 stars Price: $$$$ Last visit: August 11, 2012
Those who know me well, understand my passion for great food. For fine dining I look for a restaurant with a continental flair, super fresh, locally sourced ingredients, presented well by a friendly knowledgeable staff as prepared by a chef that can surprise me with interesting taste combinations.
I've wanted to eat at Beckta ever since I first read about it on the Ottawa Foodies blog. We finally made it there on our last trip to the Canadian capital. Based on that experience I feel confident in saying Beckta is perhaps the finest restaurant in Ottawa today. Situated in a converted house downtown, it is calm and refined. The service is impeccable. We arrived after being soaked in a sudden thunderstorm. They helped me dry off as I was seated. We never felt hurried, and we never felt ignored. Every member of the wait staff was fully knowledgeable about the food. The food is innovative, unique, almost indescribable. Sometimes chef Michael Moffatt reaches a bit too far in an effort to find the perfect pairing of tastes, but there are more hits than misses. Here's what we ate:
As we surveyed the menu, we were served fresh crusty bread from a local bakery. The choices were fennel/date, whole wheat/nut and classic baguette. We tried them all and went back for seconds. The sweet butter was paired with an unique caramelized version.
We were then offered a bite-sized amuse-bouche of smoked char on lemon fennel puff pastry.
I started with a glass of Rose “Bistro,” (Hidden Bench, Beamsville Bench, Ontario, 2011) that is dry with a tart cherry after taste I liked. Merry tried and liked a cocktail of Campari with sparkling Eska water & fresh grapefruit.
For appetizers I had sweet pea soup with wasabi cream fraishe, verjus pickled ramps, pea shoots and baby fennel chip. This was an interesting contrast of sweetness with highlights of sharp spice.
|Sweet pea soup|
Merry got the prize, however with heirloom beet salad with baby radish, grilled halloumi cheese, black olive oil croutons with truffled leek vinaigrette. This salad is wonderful on so many levels, it needs to be tasted to be believed.
|Heirloom beet salad|
For a main course I chose pan roasted breast of Quebec Magret Duck with sun dried cherry gnocchi, arugula, early summer succotash, chantrelle mushrooms and fresh cherry cumberland sauce. Very savory dish. Duck was perfect at medium rare. I accompanied this with a spicy red wine recommended by our server called "Pipe Down" (Organized Crime, Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, 2010). I found this too sharp by itself, but our server was right to suggest it, as it went very well pared with the duck.
|Quebec Magret Duck|
Merry choose the exotic orchid flower rissoto with carmalized onions, almond cream, oyster mushrooms, wilted misuna (Japanese mustad greens) and baby spinach pesto. This dish had a light perfume taste from the flowers but the spinach pesto and misuna over-powered the other flavors and made the whole dish a bit of a dissappointment.
|Orchid flower rissoto|
That let-down as quickly picked up with Merry's dessert choice of raspberrty cheesecake with cinnamon basil graham crumbs, exploded raspberries, spice box fudge, huckleberry molassas and fresh currants. This white mound with no crust has the exploded raspberries on the inside of a light, creamy filling unlike any other cheesecake. The graham crumbs, currants and fudge were scattered on the plate to be added as whim dictates.
Dinner took about 2 hours in all. Price was $180 for the two of us including drinks and tip. Although the price is high, we agreed it was a good value for an extraordinary evening. We will certainly go again. Maybe next time we'll try one of their famous blind tasting meals.