Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Review: Atelier

Graduate school deadlines regularly made me break into stress related health crises (real or imagined). I had yet to defend or even submit the final draft of my thesis but still, celebrating my looming graduation with an expensive dinner – a little taste of what the glorified (but never achieved) post-graduate lifestyle would regularly allow seemed like a good idea. The reservation for Atelier was made.

I arrived at the romantically lit, elegantly decorated dining establishment wearing jeans and my “cereal killer” t-shirt. Graduate student. The staff took no notice of my improper attire as we were warmly greeted. The course of the evening was explained – twelve molecular gastronomy dishes would be presented. We decided to go balls-to-the-walls and signed on for the accompanying wine list.

The first course was set before us, and the waiter issues forth a stream of words with very little independent meaning but I understood his language. Sous-vide. Anti-griddle. Dust. Dirt. As I picked apart the first few courses I complained that this dish finishes too acidic and that the mouth feel is off on that dish. My husband queries me, concerned, was I really complaining or was I fun complaining? I was having fun. A lot of fun.

The staff's love for food and for molecular gastronomy translates into the consumer's experience of the restaurant. Atelier is staffed by foodies and as foodies, they clearly appreciate when a customer appreciates the detail of their plates. Between courses, I was explaining to my husband the basis and motivation behind sous-vide. The server overheard me and allowed me to continue. Apparently my knowledge of molecular gastronomy was up to snuff!

Atelier is a splurge at $95 per person with an additional $65 for the wine pairing but the food and the experience are worth every penny. The courses were interesting, complex, and fun to eat. They readily accommodated my vegetarianism and my husband's dislike of fish. The 12 courses took us over four hours to complete. We were the last customers in the restaurant and the wait staff offered us coffee, and a tour of the kitchen. It was the perfect way to complete a fabulous meal and to celebrate completing my masters degree.
Atelier: 540 Rochester Street, Ottawa ON

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