ERLING’S VA­RI­ETY

Ottawa Magazine - - THE GLEBE -

Open for five years, Erling’s serves su­perla­tive food in a pretty, friendly en­vi­ron­ment. The open-plan space fea­tures nat­u­ral wood, a slightly in­dus­trial vibe, twinkly lights, a long bar, and a comfy ban­quette that rings the room. The low-key vibe works well with a menu that fo­cuses on sea­sonal in­gre­di­ents and the com­mu­nal din­ing ex­pe­ri­ence. In­deed, you must go to Erling’s with some­one you know well, at least well enough to dig your fork into one an­other’s plates.

The bless­edly con­cise menu is not di­vided into ob­vi­ous cour­ses. Our first plates were ex­cep­tional: a tuna crudo with mango bal­samic, Fran­toio, and cu­cum­ber that ap­peared so del­i­cate, I was con­vinced it would be a dis­ap­point­ment. (Sur­prise!) An­other win­ner was the large pile of mush­rooms set atop a creamy hillock of ched­dar-and-po­tato po­lenta with sweet green peas and a Madeira demi-glace. Three fur­ther plates, one of scal­lops with a ro­bust car­rot-gin­ger purée and ba­con and a sec­ond of roasted vegeta­bles with feta and pump­kin seeds, as well as a lemon curd pot, of­fered more lip-smack­ing good­ness. All of it so good — and made bet­ter by the act of shar­ing.

Erling’s con­tented neigh­bour­hood vibe is tes­ta­ment to chef/owner Liam Vain­ola, who started as owner but has re­cently taken on the role of head chef. The creative, rea­son­ably priced food with sen­si­ble serv­ing sizes — as well as the friendly ser­vice, good wine list, and pleas­ant en­vi­ron­ment — means this place is al­ways hum­ming.

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