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Ottawa and Finger Lakes area dining

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Somewhat of a continuation of my last post, this one focusing on notable dining experiences.

The Tuesday evening we arrived in Ottawa, we met with some friends and went to a very new restaurant called Das Lokal, down on Dalhousie street, below the Market. We all commented that we didn’t think we had ever seen that part of Dalhousie before, but it had some interesting shops and such.

The place was a bit noisy and the service seemed somewhat rushed or something, like persistently asking us about drinks when we first arrived and were still perusing the wine list. And we got bread, but no bread plates. “I find that very odd,” commented one of our friends. Maybe just opening-month kinks they need to work out?

Food-wise, everyone seemed happy with their appetizers, which in Jean and my case was a shared charcuterie plate, with very nice patés and such. As mains everyone but me ordered the rabbit with spatzle; I had the Cornish hen. Jean reported that the rabbit wasn’t as flavorful as he’d hoped, but I found the hen very good. For dessert each couple shared apple crisp, which was fine but not outstanding.

Cornish hen at Das Lokal

The Cornish hen

Rabbit at Das Lokal

And the less-successful rabbit with spatzle

Always good catching up with friends.

Dinner was just the two of us at Whalesbone on Wednesday. We started with some raw oysters, as per usual, but I was really struck by the special appetizer of the day, which included mussels in a spicy broth, fried clams, and smoked oysters on a creamy sauce of some kind. Everything was just amazing; maybe the best food of the trip.

Seafood appetizer at Whalesbone

All these items were just fabulous

The waitress recommended a bottle of Nautilus Sauvignon Blanc, from New Zealand, to have with this. It was more than others on the menu, but still only $52. It was indeed very nice and well-suited to the food.

Nautilus Sauvignon Blanc with bread

Le vin

(And all their fish and seafood, by the way, is sustainably fished.)

As our main courses, I went with BC trout while Jean had Ontario walleye. These were quite fine, with good vegetables to accompany.

Our first day in the Finger Lakes area, we didn’t feel like driving more, so we had dinner at an Italian restaurant down the road from our B&B in Montour Falls, called Mura Bella’s. They were very nice there, even giving us an umbrella for the walk home, as it was quite rainy by then (after a very nice day). It was our first taste of the local wine there, which wasn’t bad, but wasn’t terribly interesting, either. The food was good, except for Jean getting frozen veggies with his main. (I mean, heated frozen veggies. They weren’t still frozen.)

Tomato and bocconcini

Nice tomato and bocconcini appetizer at Mura Bella’s

On the Friday after our hike, we had lunch at the Wildflower Cafe in the town of Watkins Glen, which focused on the local and sustainable. It was attached to a brewery and had recommended beers for most items. I couldn’t resist, so I ordered the recommend Blonde beer, which wasn’t bad, as beers go. Jean went with a glass of local wine, which tasted rather nouveau.

I had catfish tacos that were just delicious, really, with a side salad of corn and black beans. Jean had a jambalaya that he enjoyed. He also had room for an apple crumble dessert that I just tasted.

Our dinner that night was at Suzanne’s Fine Regional Cuisine, and it was very enjoyable. They specialize in set menus of varying numbers of courses. We went for the three-course rather than five. I started with a nice salad of pear, pecan, and blue cheese, while Jean had the corn chowder with bacon and basil oil. For mains we both had the duck with potato Galette and broccoli. The local wines we had here acquitted themselves better than previous; I started with a nice blanc de blanc (Chardonnay) sparkling, while Jean had a decent Pinot. And we both enjoyed the recommended Syrah with the duck; it was quite smooth, with vanilla notes.

(Jean seems to not have selected any pictures from this meal, for some reason… I was all dressed up for it, too.)

For dessert he had a Panna cotta in Concord grape sauce, while I had very delicious profiteroles with chocolate chip ice cream and brownies. I also ordered a local Port which was, very clearly, not Portuguese. 🙂 (That is, maybe don’t try Finger Lakes port.)

Lunch on Saturday was at Bully Hill winery, where we sat with on a patio with a lovely view (the drive in these parts was probably the best of the trip). The food was quite good. We shared grape-leaf wrapped meat appetizers, then I had a grilled goat cheese and portebello sandwich while Jean had chili. I drank a red blend from the winery and Jean had an off-dry red, which seems a bit weird, but is common with the wines here. We enjoyed both of those.

We also had dinner at a winery that day: Glenora. This was a disappointing meal, with service whose timing seemed a bit “off” all evening, and Jean’s main course of duck apparently suffered from having sat under heat lamp too long. Both our appetizers were good, mind you: I had fried calamari (a bit too big a serving, though), and Jean had squash soup. And my main of venison, mashed potatoes, and green beans was well-done, though would have been better if my red (a good Cabernet Franc) had arrived before I was nearly done with the food.

Mashed potatoes and venison at Glenora

This venison dish was good, but would have been more enjoyable with the red I’d ordered

On the drive home we had lunch in Jordan Station, Ontario, in a restaurant called Zooma Zooma cafe. That was very good; a nice capper to our trip.

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