Ottawa Magazine - - WELLINGTON WEST -

Ab­sinthe Café is a stal­wart in the Welling­ton West com­mu­nity, serv­ing clas­sic French bistro food since 2003 and suc­cess­fully find­ing the bal­ance be­tween fine din­ing and hearty com­fort food. Chef and co-owner Pa­trick Gar­land notes that one of his most for­ma­tive jobs was as an ap­pren­tice in Switzer­land, where he honed his French tech­niques — and learned about ab­sinthe, which was pop­u­lar in the early 20th cen­tury, es­pe­cially in Europe. (The restau­rant’s name­sake is welded in a beau­ti­ful sculp­ture be­hind the bar along­side its part­ner in crime, the ab­sinthe spoon.)

As you’d ex­pect from French cui­sine, plates are well con­structed, rich, and saucy — the Mari­posa Farm duck breast comes with a Le Co­prin mush­room ragout and Madeira sauce. Dishes are cre­ated from lo­cal sea­sonal in­gre­di­ents, a pas­sion of Gar­land’s, and treated to tra­di­tional French tech­niques: a bear­naise mayo, which ac­com­pa­nies the beef tartare, and a foie gras ganache on chicken-fried quail. Like­wise, Ab­sinthe ex­e­cutes clas­sic French desserts well: good luck de­cid­ing be­tween the choux pas­try prof­iteroles and the crème brûlée.

And lest you think Gar­land’s shelves of beau­ti­ful caque­lons are just for show, be sure to visit on a Mon­day night in cooler weather, when the kitchen of­fers fon­due fea­tur­ing cheeses from the re­gion — it’s con­vivial and retro in all the right ways, just like Ab­sinthe Café.

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