Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Review: Le Cafe at the National Arts Centre

My friend, Michelle, and I spent some time this past weekend enjoying brunch on the patio of Le Cafe at the NAC in downtown Ottawa. As expected, the food was delicious. I was, however, a little surprised to discover that not much had changed on the menu in the year and a half since I'd been there before. Regardless, the food was tasty. My personal favorite being General Blackie's chicken, Chef Michael Blackie's take on General Tso's chicken.

Being that this is a blog that is mostly focused on baking and sweets I thought I'd give a quick overview of the desserts I tried. There were quiet a few of the standard food service dessert items that I recognized from my time working in a restaurant, my office cafeteria, and M&M - lemon squares, cheesecake squares, brownies, carrot cake, etc. I decided to try the items that looked the most likely to be made on site. 

The macaron was quite delicious. This was one of the first "real" ones I've tried. The first bite or two didn't have a huge amount of flavor but the taste of chocolate got stronger as it went on. Michelle, who is quite a macaron connoisseur, said that the texture was nice and light. I would go back for another one of these. They had three or four different flavors available on the buffet. 

This was a chocolate peanut butter mousse of some sort. It was actually quite tasty. The chopped nuts on top provided a nice contrast in texture that complimented the smoothness of the mousse. It wasn't too sweet which was also nice. 

I'm not usually a huge fan of creme brulee but I quite enjoyed this one. Nothing fancy. Just a nice vanilla custard (you could see the vanilla beans) with a crunchy caramelized sugar top. This was the only one that had me scraping the bottom of the dish trying to get out every last bit.

This trifle was not my favorite. The cake layer was some kind of spice cake which I was certainly not expecting. The mousse on this one had a good flavor but the texture was quite grainy. I definitely didn't finish this one.

Overall, the desserts were okay. I had higher expectations knowing the reputation of Chef Blackie. I do realize that trying to prepare desserts for a busy buffet doesn't allow for a whole lot of freedom. Super elaborate and fancy desserts aren't really practical in this setting. I think my interest was piqued enough that I'd like to go back at lunch or dinner and try one of the desserts from the menu. This one alone sounds like it would be worth the trip...
C.hocolate M.arshmallow P.eanut - Valrhona chocolate ice cream, hard crack sugar top, marshmallow topping, organic honey baked peanuts
Do you have any favorite restaurant desserts? Or any favorite restaurants to go to for dessert?

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