After missing March’s Hintonburg Supper Club event, my better half and I vowed to attend the next one. Having exhausted the restaurants on Wellington Street, April’s event was held at the Canvas Resto-Bar on Holland Avenue.
For RSVP’ers, owner Charles Beauregard put together a very respectable table d’hote. The starter was soup (the day’s “chef’s creation”) and a small seasonal salad. The main, a choice between steak or poultry. The dessert, a choice between custard or chocolate mousse.
Cost: $45 before tip or taxes and drinks were extra. For drinks, Jenn and I ordered “Whispers of Summer” ($5.90 for 2), which is an off-the-menu mixture of citrus and mango juices that features some very summery flavours. It is quite refreshing.
The starter turned out to be a roasted tomato soup and it came with a mixed green salad.
The soup was finished with finely shredded Parmesan. The salad featured young dandelion leaves sprinkled with pecans and a raspberry citrus dressing.
While the salad was more seasonal (a wonderful mixture of peppery greens, cherry tomatoes, and a sweet and tart dressing), the soup tasted like a throwback to fall. That is when tomatoes are ripe in Ottawa. It tasted of concentrated tomato, punctuated with sharp tastes from the cheese. Served with Art-Is-In bread and slightly caramel-tasting brown butter (beurre noisette), the dinner opened with promise of good things to come.
For my main, I chose the Quebec Guinea Fowl Supreme: breast meat quarter with wing drumette (aka: date portion).
It came with sauteed green string beans and smashed fingerling potatoes. The plate was drizzled with a red wine reduction.
I found the supreme portion somewhat overdone for my tastes, slightly harsh. However, its sides were well cooked and well portioned, allowing me to pair meat with either potato or string beans for very agreeable mouthfuls. The fingerling potatoes were a welcomed change to singularly textured mashed.
For her main, Jenn chose the steak frites.
The steak was a tenderloin cut. It was accompanied with bistro fries and a garlicy aioli. The plate was drizzled with a port reduction.
My better half seemed to enjoy her meal. The bite of steak she gave me came from the outer portion of her steak. It was quite well done. Since she ordered medium, this meant that only the center of her steak was done as requested. The fries and aioli, on the other hand, were freshly made and creamy respectively.
For dessert, we both had the Kahlua Creme Brulee
The creme brulee, with its delicate custard and thin melted sugar crust, was served with fresh berries and a slice of mint. Their acidity and freshness helped to cut the richness of the custard.
However, the custard itself tasted overpoweringly of Kahlua, each bite packing a powerful alcoholic punch. Less would have been greatly appreciated. Jenn couldn’t finish her dessert. I mostly finished mine as I enjoy portioning properly crusted creme brulee with a spoon – every bite of custard with some sugar crust.
All in all, the meal was good and our table mates (Joanne and Brad) sang the restaurant praises both before and after dinner. Save for the dessert, we agreed. What issues we had were minor. The platings were very fetching. Service was also spectacular. Food was served quickly and efficiently.
Beauregard, who was our host, knew his menu and restaurant well, happily sharing information about its dishes and wine. In fact, the yellow chair that is randomly placed in the dining room from evening to evening is a result of he having extra yellow paint during renovations after Absinthe took its leave. It is meant as a conversation starter and was very effective.
Much of our dinner conversation was about the restaurant scene in Ottawa, Ottawa’s food critics (including a certain Ottawa Citizen Food Editor), and the Ottawa Magazine. When Canvas was mentioned, Beauregard interjected that the year it was listed on Chris Knight’s “To Watch List”, Knight walked into the restaurant within days of its opening.
Knight, in the unlikely situation that you are reading this review, I feel that Canvas is a good fine food eatery. It has potential to be much more. Determination: Ethnic European French/British: -$$$, –***
Here is Canvas’ business card:
Almost forgot: If requested, Beauregard signs copies of special event menus for you. I plan on collecting special event menus from restaurants when they are offered to patrons.
Updated: If you’re interested in brown butter (beurre noisette), The Traveler’s Lunchbox blog has a recipe for brown butter ice cream.
65 Holland Avenue