Monday, 9 January 2012

A Snowy Amble to Allium

(Special thanks to my sister at for allowing me to use her photos on this post. Though I did bring a camera to dinner, I was unable to take decent pictures with it under low lighting conditions.)
Dijon-herb butter served with the bread at our table. (Photo courtesy of
Though my sister and I were planning to take our parents to a restaurant in Toronto for their anniversary dinner, my parents still wanted to dine out on their actual anniversary date, so, at the suggestion of a fellow Ottawa foodie, we went to Allium Restaurant for dinner.  Located in the Hintonburg neighbourhood, and owned by chef Arup Jana, Allium featured Canadian cuisine in a short menu.  One thing I found amusing about the restaurant was that its menu featured a surprise appetizer and a surprise main course, but none of the staff revealed what those dishes were, not even hints.  Understandably, the menu cautioned persons with dislikes or allergies to not choose the surprise dishes.
Homemade gravlax with cilantro potato salad. (Photo courtesy of
I decided to go out on a limb and order the surprise appetizer, and I was definitely rewarded with taking the risk.  That evening's surprise starter was homemade gravlax served with cilantro potato salad.  For those unfamiliar with gravlax, usually salmon is used and cured (in its entirety) for several days under a dry marinade of salt along with sugar and dill.  The salmon is then skinned and served sliced, and the texture is similar to raw salmon, though the curing process has virtually "cooked" the meat.  Allium's version was delicate and delicious, and the potato salad created a nice flavour contrast against the gravlax.
Lemon Roasted Boneless Cornish Hen. (Photo courtesy of
For my main course, I decided to try the Lemon Roasted Boneless Cornish Hen, served with parmesan roasted fingerling potatoes, fried bacon squash and a slice of pan-seared foie gras.  The Cornish hen was tender and flavoured just right, and the squash was a subtly sweet counter to the hen.  Unfortunately I could only take a couple of bites of the foie gras that evening as I had felt slightly ill earlier that day and didn't want to eat too many heavy food items, but I definitely enjoyed the few mouthfuls I had.  I was fascinated with how many dishes on the menu had foie gras included; I wonder how much he really loves his foie gras.
Pan-seared Lunenberg scallops with ceviche and fried zucchini slices. (Photo courtesy of
Honourable mention should also be given to the surprise main course of the evening, pan-seared Lunenberg scallops on shrimp bisque sauce with ceviche and fried zucchini slices.  My mother ordered this course and she was certainly impressed by it.  The scallops were cooked just right, and she found everything on her plate delicious.

Allium Restaurant was a good suggestion for dinner, and my family and I were impressed with the presentation and taste of our meals.  I would also forward my recommendation to try this place if you're in Ottawa and haven't done so yet.  One more neat thing about this restaurant is that on Monday evenings it strictly does tapas; I may have to come back one of those Mondays and try that.

Name: Allium Restaurant
Address: 87 Holland Ave., Ottawa, ON
Cuisine: Canadian
Price Range: Lunch $15-$30; Dinner $25-$60
Accessible: No

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