Saturday, 23 February 2013

Beckta - Is it impolite to lick your plate?

FEBRUARY 15, 2013

Beckta is by far one of my favourite restaurants, not only in Ottawa, but probably in Ontario - I would even say eastern Canada. So, what better place to spend Valentine's Day than your favourite place? That's how we ended up at Beckta on February 15, 2013 - among the romantic ambiance and knowing whispers of a talented and dedicated serving staff, for one of their finest showcases yet.

After having dined here several times without trying the tasting menu, we decided to "splurge" and leave our tastebuds in the fine hands of the chefs and sommelier for once. While we are dedicated to transparent and unbiased reviews of Ottawa restaurants, we also respect the artistry and creativity of a fine chef and his team.

For this reason, I am not going to spoil the mystery of dining at Beckta by telling you every detail of what was served. But I will give you a couple tantalizing highlights.

I am all for the tease that sets the tone of the gastronomic experience you're about to have by the amuse gueule offered by the chef. Tired am I of the salmon gravlax on cucumber or some variation of a tartare.  You can appreciate my pleasant surprise, then, when a duck wonton is placed in front of me - which paired shockingly well with the vintage champagne we ordered to start off our culinary journey.

Andy and I had a lot of fun trying to guess what was going to be served over the 5 courses that evening. Let's be honest - they're going to serve a fish and a foie gras. But would you have guessed tuna sashimi with powdered bacon? Yeah - powdered. Not crumbled. Powder. And while we anticipated a foie gras, never would we have imagined that it would have been veined with cocoa and served with a late harvest red wine and not the typical Sauternes or Jurançon...

Both our eyes were skeptical when the sommelier announced a Pinot from Beamsville - but kudos to "the bench" for this atypical Ontario production. And we thought - what are they going to serve with this? Wouldn't have guessed a butternut squash ravioli with sprinkled almond granola on top!

Andy scored a point when he called duck - confirmed once they poured our glass of rare Tuscan Tua Rita Tierre. The taste combination and marriage of diverse textures blew my mind. And on this one, you won't get a peep out of me. If you want to be in on the secret, make a reservation soon - Beckta alters their tasting menu with the changing of the Guard.

And now I have to admit something that may not go over well.... Ready? I am not a dessert person. I do love me some dark chocolate, but I would rather have two appetizers than a dessert. So, as good gourmands do, we ordered the cheese plate. If you haven't had the cheese plate at Beckta, I would urge to go JUST for the cheese. I always wonder why Play and Gezellig don't follow suit - but I guess that's for the mastermind to decide.

So the cheese master comes to the table and shows us the cheeses that we'll see on our plate - not the ones parmi ceux qu'il faut choisir but all 6 that you'll get to taste. The one that sticks out - on pure inventiveness alone: the bleu Benedictine from Quebec that the cheese master decided to soak in port for a month before serving it. Oh yes, you read correctly. This master of cheese has begun crafting his own creations, much to the enjoyment of his customers.

It goes without saying that the service from the moment you walk in the door until hours after you leave, Beckta offers you a dining experience that cannot compare to  anything in Ottawa. And perhaps it's worth mentioning that the calibre of service and chef's creations have only soared, rather than dwindled, since the opening of not one, but two other restaurants by the same owner since its inception.

Rating - you seriously haven't been yet???

- Rachel

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