Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Benny's... it's been too long...

D & I decided we should go for brunch at Benny's Bistro.... it has been awhile.  Benny's has a special place in our hearts.
  We've been going for years, even had one of our first Valentine's dinners there (back when they served in the evenings).  Hey, we've even met the original Benny (have YOU?)!
I love going to Benny's because it always feels like a little hide-away, a secret spot that only the inner Ottawa circle knows about, tucked in behind the French Baker.  

As we entered the cozy, bustling space, it made me smile to see a mother with her new born baby and cooing friends/relatives, a shy young couple with his (or her?) nervous parents, a loud table of older, probably long time friends, several young couples with big goofy grins....  a real cross section of life, everyone in the moment - eyes rolling back after a particularly delicious mouthful, smiles and laughter - enjoying a fine meal with special people. 

Scott Adam's menu is always amazing.  As you read each item, it's hard not to start to salivate, and choosing is always tricky.  
D and I threw out our usual "never order the same thing" rule that morning due to this lovely creation that we had yet to try: Confit albacore tuna...
The tuna (which we later found out was from a sustainable fishery - phew!) was brined and gently poached. The perfectly seasoned, soft & smooth texture of the fish mixed beautifully with the poached egg, spicy, crispy chorizo balls, the smoked tomato water and saffron aioli... and then there was the surprise of the crunchy fennel/radish salad at the bottom of the bowl!  I had to ask for a spoon to savour the last drops of these complex flavours.

The wine list is small, but beautifully selected and very reasonable by Ottawa standards (no glass over $13!).  And who doesn't want to start brunch with a mimosa or a Kir royale!

I'd also like to mention our favourite waitress, Jessica, who seems to always be there when we go, and even though we only come in a few times a year, greets us like we are old friends.  Some how she always seems to have our favorite table available for us - she's that good!  Her attentive service, pleasant conversation, and obvious passion for her job completes the entire dining experience.

Benny's Bistro on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Girls Night Out - Bistro CoqLicorne & Cacao 70

A chilly early winter night - getting together with a girlfriend for a delish meal and gab session - where to go?  

We decided to try Bistro CoqLicorne - had heard good things but every time I tried to get a reservation, they were full up.  On three separate occasions, calling for a reservation, even before I could ask if they had a spot - "sorry, no availability tonight."  To the point that I thought, perhaps if I requested a spot en français?  It became the elusive reservation - like the mythical rooster/unicorn immortalized in the name of this cozy little resto.  

We were able to squeak in, and I was pleasantly surprised by the warm welcome and lovely service. As it turns out, they tend to take reservations on only a small number of tables, to ensure that local drop ins always have a spot!  Good to know.....

Perfect girls night out - funky cocktails and tapas/small plates:

Les 3 Amigos - yummy pork tacos, and Le Vilain Petit Canard - duck carpaccio with popcorn, arugula, apple, and salted caramel....  oooooohh........
L'amuse-gueule de dragons - a bright salad of smoked trout, cream cheese, arugula, and lemon.
La Peché originel - the original sin (!) - crispy crostinis with apples, spiced butter, caramelized onions and melted cheddar cheese....
 Here`s the menu - mains were all under $20, nice and ridiculously reasonable wine list - I`ll be back!

Thinking that we`d actually not eaten THAT much - we scanned the dessert menu but unfortunately, chocolate-less.... time to move on!  We headed into the Byward Market to Cacao 70 - a Montreal chain restaurant that specializes in all things chocolate (with a savoury menu as well).  We shared the dark chocolate fondue for two - very generous and decadent.
Here are a crepe and waffle plate from a previous visit:

Definitely recommend both spots - with or without a bestie!

Bistro CoqLicorne on Urbanspoon

Cacao70 on Urbanspoon