Owner/chef Rene Rodriguez has returned to his old haunts in the former premises of the Black Cat on Murray. Navarra features the cuisine of northern Spain, with emphasis on the use of local ingredients where possible.

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Foods from Navarra

Comments

2013 Jan 4
The favorite of the evening was Pibil Pig Cheek with buffalo mozzarella, black bean sofrito, shaved radish, 'burnt' onion and guacamole. The guac was off but the cheek made up for that with it's crusty crunchy exterior yielding into a rich savoury inside yumm pork fat. The burnt onion was a drizzle sauce on top of the cheek that was quite interesting. Radish a recurring theme with everything we ordered. Sofrito so tasty but anything with black beans usually is for me.

2013 Jan 4
I really liked the Rabbit Confit Chilaquiles with fried mushrooms, serrano chile - tomato salsa, feta, marjoram and tortilla. Definitely comeback for this dish. Tender shredded rabbit on top of tostadas/tortilla with sliced grape tomatoes with the saltiness of the feta giving a bit of tang.

2013 Jan 4
Did a walk in early and got a table. I'm a little mixed two dishes were outstanding and two were a little underwhelming. The Mexican Bricklayer Dip -Tomatillo salsa - crumbled feta - avacado 'dip', tostadas, radish and cactus was on the sweet side for my taste. The balance between sweet and heat needed to be adjusted with a bit of acid added.The table next to us enjoyed it more than we did. Service was great with the tables very cozy so I could not use flash sorry about the pic.Prices are a bit high even for the market though. The other dish tat didn't impress was the Chiles Relleno-Chorizo and potato stuffed ancho chiles, serano salsa, dehydrated mango and cactus crema. The serano salsa just seemed off to me. Pic is the dip.


2011 Dec 31
We've been wanting to try Navarra for a long time -- even with its mixed reviews, the style of cuisine was intriguing to us.

The restaurant itself is cosy and pleasant looking. We were there on a cold day, and found there to be steep temperature gradient between ceiling and floor. I was seated on the vinyl bench side of the table, so my upper legs sweated while my feet were cold. Interactions with servers were pleasant and they were good at describing each dish they brought to the table. The washrooms are super nice, with excellent soaps and lotions and single-use terry cloth towels.

Dishes I sampled:

* Complimentary focaccia bread topped with grapes and currants. This was a tasty start to the meal, although the focaccia seemed a little dried out.
* Roasted Beet Salad ($17) - the beets were succulent and tasty and the goat cheese was ridiculously rich (pictured here)
* Serrano Ham ($19) - beautifully mild tasting ham, garnished with an assortment of sweet things
* Pig Cheek ($36) - A nice hunk of very fatty and delicious pig cheek. This was my plate and it was slightly dried out (especially the king eryngii mushrooms), suggesting it might have spent a long time under a heat lamp.
* "Chef's Culinary Journey of the Aventine Hill in Rome" Part 2 ($37) - Cod chowder (good only because of the excellent pancetta) with somewhat dry and bland lucanica sausage patties.
* Cappuccino ($4.50) - An underwhelming Illy espresso shot, topped with a laughably stiff milk foam, and a sprinkle of unwanted cinnamon. Do I sound bitter because I make something much better for less than fifty cents at home? ;-)

Overall, we were disappointed. Don't get me wrong -- most of the food is very good! But it is uniformly overpriced by about 40% for its quality. For these kinds of prices, I want the food to sing with culinary genius as it does at places like Black Cat Bistro, Atelier, and even Play Food and Wine.

The grape/currant garnish on the focaccia bread was repeated in the Serrano Ham appetizer. Also, the strip of jellied quince on the Serrano Ham plate was repeated on the beet salad plate. Other restaurants in this price range strive to avoid ingredient repetition between plates.

In line with the high prices, they ask if you would like "tap" water or sparkling water. My wife opted for sparkling which translated to an entire 750 mL bottle of San Pellegrino added to our bill for $10! In contrast, I seem to remember Atelier offering "still" or sparkling water and both choices being complimentary.

The most reasonably priced menu item by far is beer. $8 gets you a delicious pint of either Kichesippi "Logger" or Hogsback Lager. These are both fantastic beers -- the former having a pleasant nutty bitterness and a nice copper colour, and the latter having a more golden tone with a beautiful honey taste.

The wait between our appetizers and mains was at least 45 minutes -- possibly a whole hour. This is unacceptable for a relatively tiny restaurant, and the dried edges of the mushrooms on my plate suggested a scheduling error on somebody's part.

The bill came with a tasty morsel of cocoa-dusted ganache (aka truffle) for each of us, garnished with three chilies and flakes of salt. Very nice!

My summary: If you can afford to eat here, then you should probably pay the extra $5 per dish and go to Le Baccara instead, where the food is twice as good.

2011 Aug 3
That's a shame about the Tuesday deal. I was looking forward to trying and celebrating with that once my move was done :(

2011 Aug 2
Up until a couple weeks ago, Navarra had a Tapas Tuesday deal where you could get 3 tapas for $27 - a pretty good deal, especially for Navarra where the bill can run really high, really fast. They also have a flamenco band that plays at 7:30 for about an hour, which is really lovely and lends a lot of ambience to the place. I went recently and greatly enjoyed it; it was the only time I could justify going to this restaurant where I don't always feel I get value for the money I spend.

I was really disappointed to learn today that they have discontinued the tapas deal and are offering them a la carte instead - starting in price at $10 each (not many at $10 though) and running up to $19. Given how empty the place is every time I walk by, and even how empty it was last time I was there, this doesn't seem like a very smart move. Perhaps another Murray St restaurant to bite the dust in the near future? Such a shame.


2011 Jul 12
It sounds so sexy. A taste adventure.

It proved to be a meal that was unlike anything I’ve ever experienced before.

'Perfect' became the word of the night at Navarra. As if Chef René Rodriguez looked into at our collective consciousness and divined the exact meal to accent the palate.

That wonderful shot... was my entree... Confit of Crispy Pig Cheek 'A Basque Classic'.

The combination of creamy at the bottom of the bowl topped with a crispy on the outside, tender on the inside confit of pig’s cheek... Pull-apart-with-a-fork-tender!

It was my first pig’s cheek, but fan of pork that I am, I could not imagine a delicate cut of meat, slowly cooked in fat being anything but excruciatingly amazing. I was not disappointed.

I managed an intelligent opinion: “It’s like Grandma... on CRACK!”

Not in my budget for every day (I WISH) but on a special occasion, as a rare treat, it is among my favorite restaurants... anywhere.

More semi intelligent commentary (and photos) my blog: www.foodgypsy.ca

2011 Jul 11
I totally agree with some of the previous posts about the high prices at Navarra. I have no problem paying top dollar for food that is worth it - I just don't feel like I am getting value for money at this particular establishment.

I came back to this place for the first time in two years for brunch on Saturday...and was reminded of why I've been away for so long. The entire restaurant was empty save for one other couple, yet service was pretty slow. I ordered a vine-ripened tomato salad (basically one sliced up beefsteak tomato with two tiny teaspoon-sized dollops of goat cheese and a little drizzle of olive oil), a plate of rigatoni with fried pig cheeks which was yummy but portioned very small, and a panna cotta with fresh strawberries and creme anglaise, the best part of the meal. The bill came to more than $50, and I only drank water. No amuse-bouche was provided, neither at the beginning nor at the end of the meal.

The biggest turn off was seeing the owner in the establishment just hanging out, without bothering to lift his head to say hello or goodbye to his own (very few) customers. I would venture to guess that such obvious lack of interest may be a sign of the future of the restaurant.

2010 Dec 10
Last Saturday my beautiful girlfriend took me out to supper at Navarra Restaurant for my birthday. Navarra, located on Murray St. in the market, is a small Spanish influenced restaurant. The food is inspired by the regional cuisine of Navarra, Spain. Navarra’s capital city is Pamplona, best known for the running of the bulls!

For my main I felt like being adventurous and tried something I had never had before, pig cheeks. I have never had pig cheeks before and worried that they either wouldn’t taste very good or that the texture would totally throw me off, but I wanted to be adventurous! I was rewarded! The pig cheek that I had was amazing. It came with preserved baby tomato jam, thyme infused parsnip silk, roasted eggplant, pistachio romesco, basil, sundried tomato vinaigrette, and spot prawn. The pig cheek was nice and crispy, the inside was nice and soft. It tasted a little bit like bacon! The parsnip silk was really good too, especially with the roasted eggplant. The whole meal was amazing, I ordered a Spanish beer and even that was great!

My whole review is on my blog.

2010 Oct 6
I dined at Navarra recently and what a great experience!

It was a last minute decision after working all day and I was seated at the bar, so I got to watch all the plating and the plates go by. My head was turning all night!

I had the BC Smoked Salmon with Rosemary Smoke Infusion. I don't believe I've ever seen a plain lychee used in a dish I've had. It went very well with this dish - a nice surprise!

For my main, I had "Surf & Turf" Butter Poached Lobster on a pecan brioche covered with pineapple butter. Tamarind BBQ Pig Cheek atop fried mango sticks. Jalapeno & baby herbs with some grilled olives. Heaven.

I do notice however that several posters before me mention amuse bouches. I did receive the olives and wonderful bread, but no amuse bouche so I guess I'm curious now! The tasty brownie with passion fruit seeds is still a nice treat.

The pics I took of my plates did not come out well, but the one of my empty plate did. I certainly hope this conveys my thoughts on the menu.

Service was wonderful and fun! I can't wait to go back!

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