The generous folks of Mena, Ottawa’s premier French cuisine restaurant on Preston Street, invited me to a 5-course tasting of their new winter menu “Game Night”. There was nothing trivial about this meal. Every well-thought-out dish featured Canadian Wildlife delicacies paired with the most unique selection of wines. I am a huge fan of Sommelier Rob Nellis’s work. We seem to have a similar pallet when it comes to wine, so I always look forward to his recomendation. What I loved most about the pairing? The wines were mighty when consumed on their own, but never overpowering the taste of the meal. Now that’s a true partnership!
I started the evening with my favourite cocktail at Mena- the Pims Cup! I fell in love with it, the first time I had it there. I think it’s the splash of ginger beer that makes it so spicy and delicious!
As I waited for my friend to arrive, I test-drove my new lens and snuck in the back kitchen to snap some pics of the chefs deliberating on the evening menu. The waiters had a chance to taste and critique the dishes. It was very cool to experience the behind-the-scenes environment. I think it makes you appreciate what goes into the entire experience. The chefs are not simply cooking food… it’s an art! Their art. They are vulnerable and want to make a good impression. I will not take this for granted.I may have even had a moment to snap a bathroom selfie…
Game Night Menu
by Executive chef James Bratsberg and Sommelier Rob Nellis
Amuse bouche– Rosemary Kielbasa
First course– Cured Magret duck breast, sunchoke custard, chestnut puree and c’est bon goat cheese
Wine- Attems “Cicinis” 2015, Collio, Frriuli-Venezia, Italy
Second course– Caribou tartar, black truffle puree, roasted hen, and foie gras
Wine- Domaine Charles Audoin Marsannay “Clos Du Roy” 2013, Cote de Nuits, Burgundy, France
Third course– Quebec venison leg, roastes celeriac, blackberry puree and seed granola
Wine- Terranoble “CA2” Costa Carmonere 2013, Colchagua Valley, Chile
Fourth course– Binchotan roasted squab, chicken liver mousse, chantrelle and sauce chasseur
Wine- Chateau Chantelune 2014, Margaux, Haut-medoc, Bordeaux, France
Dessert– Granny Smith apple tartlet, vanilla bean parfait, shortbread and burnt caramel
Wine- Chanteau Du Cerons
As an avid meat eater, and someone who appreciates eating seasonal and local foods, I give this menu two hooves up! I don’t often have the opportunity to cook with or eat game very much, so I really appreciated the new flavours and textures. I love that each dish uses the animal to it’s full potential: whether it’s a sauce boiled with the animal’s bones or a creamy liver pate. I think it’s also an important practice of making the best with what you have and not being wasteful. My favourite dish was the caribou tartar… I love tartar in general, but I really loved how lean the caribou meat was. And of course, the black truffle puree added life! The most playful dish, made to look like a mini garden, was the cured duck breast and sunchokes. It’s always a pleasure to dine at Mena. They truly have exceptional service, and exquisite food! It ‘behooves’ me to tell you to make sure you check out the new menu!