Last night, I was invited to attend the grand re-opening of the newly renovated Mena Restaurant on Preston Street in Little Italy. It’s a fine dining establishment, serving French Cuisine through a blind tasting of 5, 7 or 9-course meal, with the option of a wine pairing.
My husband and I had the 7-course meal with wine pairing and spent the entire evening spoiling our taste buds. Seriously, what a special experience. It’s probably the most high-end culinary adventure I have ever been on… and I have been to A LOT of restaurants!
I was completely taken aback by the friendly staff, the choreographed performance of the waiters, the tantalizing recommendations of the sommelier, the exquisite presentation, the immaculate space, and of course the impeccably prepared food. Every dish was carefully crafted and timed when presented on our plates, and the French wine selection was bang-on.
The space is very clean, crisp and quite simple. This allows you to focus on the food with very little distraction.
Here is a glimpse of the menu, and description of each course.
We started off the evening with a few cocktails. A Pims cup for me and an old-fashioned for my hubby. I loved my Pims cup, the overload of mint and cucumber make it, oh so fresh.
Our first course, served with sparkling wine, was truly all about aromas. This charred duck kielbasa was sitting on a bed of onion skins and bay leaves and gave off the best aroma to accompany the rest of the dishes.
We had a chance to sneak into the kitchen and snap a few pics of chef platting all the dishes.
Salmon both ways, was probably one of the dishes that my husband and I enjoyed the most. We love raw salmon, and couldn’t get enough of the smoked salmon tartar.
This super smooth rose from Sancerre was the perfect pairing for the salmon. Think pink!
This gorgeous floral crab cake was served with a pool of yellow gazpacho that the waiters poured in front of us. They timed it so that everyone on the table received the same experience all at once!
This little shrimp dish won my “most gorgeous” dish award. Those candy beets are mesmerizing! The fresh little peas were also perfect.
This dish won my “most decadent” award. I loved the rhubarb jelly that topped the foie gras, it made the perfect balance of “sweet & savory”. It too was also beautifully presented.
There was a ton more food that was brought our way, and sadly I did not get any pictures of the two last savoury dishes (quail and lamb) and the decadent desserts (best chocolate and salted dolce macaron I ever had!).
Overal, we were extremely impressed with Mena and feel privileged to have had the opportunity to take part in the pre-launch of the restaurant. I love the idea of a blind-tasting, where you leave the creativity and talent to the experts. I think it’s brilliant that they have a list of possible ingredients for each course and also give you the option of 5, 7 or 9-course tasting, with or without a wine pairing. This way, you can tailor it to your budget.
There really are not many places of this caliber in the city. This is the perfect destination dining experience for little Italy, and an opportunity to relish in traditional fine French cuisine with a bit of flair in Ottawa. It’s the ideal place to celebrate a special occasion, an anniversary or just cause you are feeling fabulous and want to treat yourself!
If you want my advice… book a reservation now, get yourself a gorgeous dress and start saving those pennies… because this place is going to be in high demand and hard to get in!