Thursday, July 10, 2014

St. Martha's Brasserie d'Orleans (Review)

As we all know, the culinary scene in Ottawa has come alive in recent years, with a thriving community of top chefs, creative restaurants, and unique foodie ideas. While the majority of the city’s simmering culinary landscape is located in the downtown core, there are a few hidden gems located in the suburbs.

Tucked away in Orleans, camouflaged amongst the many fast-food chains, Chinese takeout, pubs, and pizza places, is a restaurant unlike the strip’s other eateries. St. Martha's Brasserie d'Orleans, which opened in 2012, is a breath of fresh air in the eastern burbs.

The restaurant defines its food and service as 'rustic refinement', whose menu features classic French brasserie fare. Dishes include cassoulet, steak frites, gigot d’agneau, and poached salmon with a beau béarnaise sauce, as well as thin crust pizza and a killer burger and frites. And of course a brasserie wouldn't be a brasserie without beer! They offer a wide selection of locally brewed beer from Eastern Ontario and Western Quebec, as well as several Ontario regional wines. The brasserie prides itself on its fresh, local ingredients and its modestly priced, yet delicious menu.

In spite of this, during my first visit, I was somewhat underwhelmed by the small 50 seat restaurant, whose decor and ambience did little to impress me. The service was also not as hospitable or friendly as the restaurant boasts, however, the food itself made up for it. The extensive menu of wholesome fresh food made it difficult to choose an entrée, but I decided to go on the healthier side and ordered the St. Martha's salad for $17.

The salad consisted of mixed greens on a bed of warm quinoa with goat cheese, grilled chicken breast, dried figs, toasted walnuts and lemon vinaigrette. I also had the option to choose two different salad combinations, either pan-seared AAA Ontario flank steak served with oven dried cherry tomatoes, cucumber and maple/mustard vinaigrette, or grilled salmon brushed with black garlic pesto, capers, toasted pine nuts and lemon vinaigrette. But I was very satisfied with my grilled chicken choice.

My other dining companions went with the Vegetarian Lasagna ($17), the Rainbow Trout ($22) and the Lobster Risotto ($27). I, of course, tasted a bite of each, and was very impressed by all dishes. The Vegetarian Lasagna consisted of ricotta, tomato sauce, spinach, mushrooms and eggplant smothered with mornay sauce and Gruyère cheese then baked and topped with fresh basil. The Rainbow Trout was grilled and served with a cranberry and lemon riced cauliflower, glazed carrots drizzled with a balsamic fig reduction. Finally, the decadent Lobster Risotto was infused with saffron, white wine and cream, and garnished with two butter-poached lobster claws.

Vegetarian Lasagna
Rainbow Trout
Lobster Risotto
All in all, the food was delicious and satisfying. I was impressed by the bold flavours and creativity. Next time I return, I will try the Chef's Special, which is an innovative and seasonally inspired dish that changes weekly. 

Verdict: 7/10...great food, but mediocre service and atmosphere.

Hours: Monday to Friday: 11:00am - 10:00pm; Saturday and Sunday: 9:00am - 10:00pm - Special Brunch menu on the weekend

Price: $15-$28

St. Martha’s Brasserie d’Orléans, 503 — 3095 St. Joseph Blvd., Orléans, ON

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