Tuesday, 5 July 2011

Ottawa Restaurant Review: The Courtyard Restaurant

And here we have another restaurant that I’ve encountered many-a-time, even eaten around and been in, and yet, in my four or five years of chilling in the market, the thought to have lunch or dinner at the Courtyard Restaurant never really crossed my mind!

Today was a great day to go, as it was lovely weather, and it was actually very easy to get a table for 12 people (our whole team of colleagues) at lunch. (Dinner is crazy here on the weekends though!) I actually made a survey for the whole team (see post last week) so that we could decide where it was in fact that we would all enjoy going to the most.

The lunch menu is small, but easily has enough choice for everyone. The executive chef at the Courtyard is Chef Michael Hay, who describes his food as French based, but with a contemporary flair (like half the restaurants in Ottawa that aren’t pubs!)

There were eight different appetizers on the menu, some of which looked kinda boringly overpriced, and others which looked awesome! In particular, I am making reference to the “corn dog”, made with wild boar sausage, served with truffle and thyme aioli and blueberry preserve ($12).

There were seven items to choose from for the main course, but I’ll just list the ones that our table had:

Vegetarian ($12) described as: “balsamic marinated grilled vegetable sandwich, feta cheese spread, quinoa salad, saffron, almonds, lemon, parsley”  I think this was a pretty good sandwich, with a great flavour profile, and the two people eating it seemed to really enjoy it. The presentation was nice, but I would just say that if you expect a lot of action from a quinoa salad (as in, a bunch of exciting ingredients embedded in it), you won’t find it. The quinoa salad was essentially lightly dressed and arranged like a hamburger patty in a mould as a side. (Which was still really nice!)

BLT Burger ($15), pretty standard and self-explanatory.

Warm Beef Salad ($16) described as: “sous-vide beef striploin, truffle oil, tamari, arugula, ginger, cashews, coriander, compressed pineapple”. It looked good, but not hearty enough for what I would enjoy as a beef salad. Also, Jen didn’t get her cashews! And she was too polite to ask for them, so we will never know what the whole beef salad experience could have been. 

Nachos au canard ($14) described as: “house-made lime dusted corn chips, duck leg ragout, aged cheddar sauce, chef's pickled onions, sour cream, chives”. If I didn’t get the item below, I would have got this instead (readers of my blog know how obsessed I am with duck!). It looked and smelled delicious, and I was told that it was delicious, but I also heard from my colleague who had it that she is now dying from a serious sodium overload. So, might not be something to consider if you are worried about your Na levels!

Short Rib Wrap ($15) described as: “48 hour braised short rib wrap, grilled onion, aged cheddar, horseradish, aioli, fries, green salad” This is what I, along with three others, ended up ordering, and generally, I think it was pretty good. If I were to improve this dish, I would have a) used a lighter dressing on the salad and added some herbs and acid to brighten it a bit more, b) used a slightly less dense dough for the tortilla so that the consistency would be more equal in proportion to the beef, and c) would have served it with aioli on the side to begin with. I also think that people who don’t like horseradish should definitely steer clear of this. It was nice and not at all overpowering, but still. Horseradish is a strong flavour!


Short Rib Wrap


So, good food, but once more, again with the mediocre to bad service! The thing is, most people who serve lunch in Ottawa should know that people are on a work lunch (usually), and they can choose to veg out for as long as they want, but that should be a choice, and not something that the length of time it takes to get served and get our bills mandates. Her only redeeming factor is that when I asked for some aioli on the side to go with my fries, she came back with some in a flash, and it was some truffle thyme aioli, which is totally one of my favourite flavour combos. Keep in mind, I did have to ask her, and she never offered anyone else ketchup or mayo for their fries. Great fries though! 

Positives
  • Great location, both indoor and outdoor (amazing patio!)
  • Great vegetarian option(s)
  • Really good aioli (for garlic lovers especially)
  • Nice place settings and dishes
  • Great for weddings (they do a ton of them here)
  • Good bread
  • Relatively well-priced menu
  • Extensive drinks and dessert menu
Negatives
  • Slow service
  • Surprisingly not too exciting of a washroom (especially given the historical charm of the rest of the restaurant)
  • Not enough choice on the menu
Rating: 3.5/5

Final Note: Would generally recommend. Lunch, drinks, dinner, date, wedding or dessert--the Courtyard is such a convenient location in the market that many are intimated to just "drop in", but totally do-able! Would like to go back for dinner sometime and see what they have to offer then.

Courtyard Restaurant on Urbanspoon

1 comment:

Lana said...

Agreed on the review. I was in a sodium coma all afternoon. I had salad for dinner!

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