Last May was the first time we experienced Absinthe as a group. During that visit, a few of us noticed the weekly fondue night on the menu. We had talked about going back for a long time and we finally did it! For those that aren’t familiar with Absinthe, it’s a cozy bistro-like place in Westboro lead by chef-owner Patrick Garland. Some recent accolades include being the winner of Gold Medal Plates Ottawa for 2014. The restaurant is well-known for sourcing and using as many local and organic ingredients as possible. It is also known for giving back to the community through things like $1.00 from each burger going to the Cornerstone Housing for Women or supporting the nearby Parkdale Food Centre.
Most of us in the group opted for the Monday night fondue ($44/person, available for parties of 2 or more). Some even did the suggested wine pairings. While anxiously awaiting the first course, we were served some yummy bread with dehydrated olives and olive oil. It was deliciously crispy on the outside and soft in the middle, with just the right amount of saltiness to whet our appetites.
Two bubbling pots of gruyère and emmental cheeses were brought to the table for the six of us, with each person receiving individual portions of lightly toasted baguette slices, raw broccoli, apple, and pear. The cheese was rich without being overpowering, and the sweetness of the apple and pear were a delightful contrast with saltiness of the cheese mixture. We were already getting full, with two courses still to come!
Second course: Fondue Bourguignonne
An ample serving of hanger steak was accompanied by four dipping sauces: garlic & anchovy, ranch, buffalo, and bleu Bénédictin. The garlic & anchovy and bleu sauces were the favourites of the group. With two fondue forks each, we could enjoy cooked pieces of meat while waiting for others to cook in the hot oil. This course was accompanied with a crisp green salad with a light citrus dressing that was excellent for cleansing the palate between bites. On to dessert!
Third course: Valrhona Caraque Fondue
Chocolate fondue was served with sliced bananas, clementine segments, almond biscotti, and churros. It was an excellent way to end the meal, and even though we were all stuffed, we ate as much as we could. The churros were especially good, both on their own or dipped in the chocolate. The dizzying array of various pots (hot!), plates, and utensils were distributed and collected with skill by the friendly and knowledgeable serving staff throughout the meal. And of course we could not do a meal at Absinthe without one of us indulging in its namesake beverage.
As an extra creative touch, check out the fun sugar cube pattern presented to those of us that ordered coffee to finish the meal.
It was a memorable evening, and a good value for the price. Highly recommended!
MORE ABOUT THE RESTAURANT
Address: 1208 Wellington Street West
Reservations: Yes (Online or Call)
Parking: Parking lots (Off Hinton)