When I left the orchestra last year, the musicians graciously provided me with a gift certificate to Beckta, one of Ottawa’s leading restaurants. Given my well-documented fondness for procrastination and delayed gratification, it should come as no surprise that it took me eleven months to finally make a dinner reservation.
I was incredibly excited about Beckta, and also a little nervous. I’ve heard nothing but raves about the place over the past few years, and people urged me to do the five-course tasting menu with the wine pairing. While I aspire to be a foodie and indulge in fearless eating, I did worry that some of the courses would be a little adventurous for me (i.e. braised pig’s feet).
In any event, B and I did the brave thing and put our evening in the capable hands of chef Michael Moffatt. We weren’t disappointed – it was quite simply the finest meal I’ve ever had. I even committed the entire meal to memory, just for all you actual foodies who might be interested in such things.
A spoonful of braised oxtail with apricot and olive tapenade
Alaskan wild sockeye salmon sashimi style, with grilled asparagus, goat cheese, pine nuts, and sweet lemon cucumber sorbet
Riesling “Off Dry” Cattail Creek, VQA Niagara 2006
Fried BC spot prawn, ricotta-ramp-shrimp agnelotti, lobster consommé with chili oil
Chardonnay, Parducci, Mendocino 2006
Pork belly confit, wilted sorrel, mushroom and spring pea ragout, sweet sherry reduction
Gamay Noir “Estate” 13th Street, VQA Four Mile Creek 2006
Pomegranate-orange sorbet with elderflower water
Alberta beef tenderloin, roasted sunchokes, spring onion and rhubarb sauté, fava beans, Asian BBQ sauce
Shiraz “Omrah” Plantagenet, Margaret River 2004
Bittersweet chocolate tart with walnut paté sucrée and maple meringue, white chocolate and roasted walnut ice cream, maple rum sauce
Banyuls “Cirera” Domaine Madeloc 2005
Strawberry blondie with mango coconut purée
Yes, that’s a lot of food (and a lot of wine). The pork belly was a meal in itself. The pork had been braised, cured, and smoked before being prepared confit-style. It was rich, decadent, and had a strong pig flavour. While I probably wouldn’t order it as a main course, I would gladly eat it if it was served to me again.
It was my first experience with a tasting menu, and I loved it. There was this mix of excitement and trepidation every time a dish arrived, and I appreciated having a knowledgeable sommelier choosing wines that paired well with each course. I also can’t say enough about the service – the whole staff is extremely professional and attentive.
Four hours and $300 later, we staggered out of the restaurant and grabbed a cab home. It’s a lot of money to spend on dinner, but then I started thinking about all the times we’ve dropped $50 or $60 for a crappy meal at a chain restaurant. I would gladly give up five of those mediocre experiences for one amazing experience. Sorry, Montana’s – I’m going upscale.