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Navarra 2

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See also: The Koven
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

2009 Dec 22
lamb rack mini roast & bbq ribs @ navarra. now this is the CAT'S MEOW of lamb dishes! baby veg roasted in the lamb's pan drippings, super pumpkin pesto, serrano jus, burnt honey tamarind paint, spiced beets. the big piece of lamb if i remember correctly was crusted with brie and pepper. excellent. these dishes demonstrate rene rodriguez's good execution of a wide ethnic flavor landscape. daddy will return.

2009 Dec 22
cauliflower puree "bisque" @ navarra. WAITAMINUTE, so here was the piquillo sauce that was missing on my beef tartare order...YUM. composed soup with green onions, a slice olive, truffle (perhaps chemical) infused oil and the lovely server theatrically pours the cauliflower soup into the dish at your tableside. this is the new soup fad seen in posh restos from morimoto to alinea to atelier to colborne lane. wish someone could pour soup like this for me all the time. earthy and tasty thick soup, nice & smooth, not salty, but it kinda overpowered the piquillo sauce painted on the spirit china bowl...

2009 Dec 22
a true roman carbonara @ navarra. lovely mac and cheese with pig cheeks and microgreens. smooth creamy pecorino romano cheese sauce was a delight on semolina rigatoni pasta that was perfectly al dente that each pasta tube kept their perfect cylindrical shape rather than collapse into flat tubes like most other places. pig cheeks were crispy and seasons on the outside, tasty and super fatty on the inside. pig ass has never been so delish on a carbonara dish. will order AGAIN.

2009 Dec 22
beef tartare @ navarra - looks like someone loves alinea's crucial detail serviceware bacon sex swing mounted with a serrano ham parmesan leather that screams to be slammed with wanton abandon. comes with olive oil crostinis, chive coated beef tartare and sauce gribiche. what was missing upon being served this was the stated piquillo aioli which gave this dish the perfect spicy pepper punch. nice dish nevertheless. could have used more parmesan baby!

2009 Nov 27
A group of business friends from out of town treated us to dinner last night. You know you're bound for a fun evening when in the company wonderful people. Spend that time at your favourite restaurant and the evening quickly jumps from great to exceptional.

As usual, I had a terrible time deciding what to order. In the end I believe my choices couldn't have been any better. I started off with the Confit of Octopus – Spanish Chorizo, smooth parsnip silk, organic mushrooms, chimichurri sauce, smoked paprika and chili oil, yummm.

My main, the Crispy Pig Cheeks and Garlic Prawn was rich and satisfying. Parsnip silk piled with layers of heaven – crisp, buttery pig cheeks that melted in your mouth, baby fennel, fried artichoke and a firm garlic prawn topped with delicious aioli. Piquillo emulsion and dried olives decorated the plate. Even today, I still can't get the rich moistness of the pig cheeks out of my mind!

We shared a heavy 2007 Spanish wine – Petalos, the perfect accompaniment. And ended the evening with a 10 year tawny port and espresso.

I love everything about this place. The soft atmosphere, the mouthwatering food, and the amazing service that is some of the best in Ottawa. Last night was particularly special. A year and a half ago I started this blog because of the experience I had there. I was in love with the food and in awe by our server – Deanna. When I heard her name last night I couldn't believe it. She had just returned from maternity leave. It was great to have her back there again.

2009 Sep 17
I went to Navarra with the Ottawa Omnivore's supper club in July. It was delightful.

Food was excellent and expertly prepared. The service was perfect and well-timed - formal yet very friendly.

Wine pairings were very nice (thank you!) and that white chocolate soup with fresh raspberries, candied ginger, and ice wine capers was mind-blowingly delicious.

So nice to have such an authentic touch of Spain in the market area...

Only criticism - the kitchen / work area is mostly open and the shockingly loud clattering crash of cutlery being dumped (3x while we were there) was an atmosphere killer.

2009 Aug 12
I went to Navarra for the first time last night. I had never heard of it but my friend found it. I read the reviews beforehand and was prime to order the rack of lamb.

First off, the restaurant is nice. We chose to sit on the patio which is in the back of the house; it is very private and shielded from the sounds and sights of the market. It was Tuesday night so apparently tapas are all $10 each.

The menu is pared down from what is listed online. In terms of entrées, for example, there were only three choices on the restaurant menu. Anyhow my recollection of what we ate isn't that great so be forewarned.

To start, we were given bread with a tomato purée topping drizzled in olive oil. The plate came with a little pot of some spread, as well as house olives. Quite good. We shared a mushroom dish (currently not found on the online menu - I can't remember the name and all the ingredients) but it was mixed with parmesan cheese and baby greens. The dish was warm and the flavours were well matched - very tasty!

For our mains, we both ordered the Roasted Lamb Rack. Others have posted photos of this dish. This dish is ideal for those who don't like their foods to touch. It's pretty sparse. As Fat Cat said, Navarra is not for those who like their meat and potatoes, or quantity for that matter. The lamb was cooked perfectly and pretty tasty (the first bite especially) including the serrano sauce. Unfortunately, I have had better homemade lamb. For the sides, there were a few grilled vegetables: two baby beets, a small baby leek (I believe), a potato with light goat cheese (I didn't like the potato, quite tasteless), half a baby carrot and a baby radish. For $36, I have definitely had better in both taste and quantity.

For dessert, we shared the Two Textures of Amedei Chocolate which comprised a lovely warm chocolate cake-like creation (so good!) as well as a dark chocolate mousse with cocoa 'crunchies' underneath. The plate had a few fresh plump raspberries and a few small dollops of a nice pear chutney.

I didn't have drinks and my part of the bill came to just over $60 with tax which is pretty pricey for a regular weeknight meal. I was happy to have tried Navarra but would not make it a regular stop. I'm someone who loves good food, but also appreciates getting the most out of the money I spend on that food. Even so, I would go back to Navarra taste their other dishes.

Lastly, I'll mention that the service was great!

2009 Jul 29
My experience started quite similarly to our first visit – being super happy with the service. I called to make a reservation and they were delighted to receive my call.

We started off with a bottle of Pago de Cirsus. A 2005 Tempranillo/Merlot/Cab Sauvignon from Navarra. Sadly, this wine is not available at the LCBO. I would return for this alone, it was fantastic. I wish my wine knowledge was better than it is, then I could properly explain the flavours. I just know what I like, and I loved this wine. I found a description online that I'll share with the wine connoisseurs out there. Deep garnet with russet edges, lots of peppery spice and balsamic notes, with a long finish. Lots of red fruit and vanilla roasted coffee from the oak. This also went very well with the amuse-bouche they brought us. A gorgonzola and fig roulette with apple butter and roasted beets. Um, could I have 10 more please? The apple butter reminded me of my mother-in-law's apple crisp. So comforting.

Next came my appetizer, the Chef's Signature Beef Tartare – lacquered serrano ham-parmesan leather, basque guindilla peppers, gribiche, crostinis. This was a more mild beef tartare than I am used to which was quite nice because you could actually taste the beef more than anything. Most tartares I find to be quite a bit more flavourful, which is nice, but you loose a lot of the meat's natural flavours. I find a lot of dishes at Navarra are like that. You really taste the main ingredient, it's not hidden by anything and always paired with ingredients to complement it. The ham-parm leather was also a fun addition to the plate, sweet and salty.

For my main, the Roasted Lamb Rack was screaming out at me, and I thank god I heard it's call. This rich and tender lamb was cooked to perfection, done medium-rare (although arrived closer to rare, which is what I prefer) and so juicy. Again, the taste of the lamb complemented by the ingredients that were so carefully placed around it, but not overpowered by anything. It was served with goat cheese-potato coulant, baby summer vegetables, serrano jus, espelette. The baby vegetables included carrots cooked al-dente, turnip, peas, beets and even a tomato sitting in this sweet yummy sauce on the corner of the plate.

Last but certainly not least, I ordered the 2 Textures of Amedei Chocolate, a self saucing fondant, mousse, berries, cocoa earth (crumbles of crisp chocolaty goodness) and pear chutney. A wonderful way to end the evening, especially paired with a sweet glass of sherry (ask your server for a recommendation and you can't go wrong). I had the East India Solera and it was very good.

The atmosphere is relaxing, the service impeccable and the food to die for. If you want a beautiful evening out with guaranteed great service and a meal you'll never forget, this is the place to go.

2009 Jul 8
Did the 5 course blind tasting menu the other night, and the food was awesome! The dishes were innovative yet traditional at the same time. Highly recommend this place.

Started with an amuse bouche of spicy tuna rillette. It had a very nice kick to it.

Then had a salad of local grape tomatoes. It was seasoned with lavendar and vanilla, which created a nice sweet aroma.

2nd course was a beef tartare, which was very good.

3rd course was a carbonara with pig cheek, and an egg yolk emulsion. Super rich, but very very tasty.

4th course was a Spanish Manchengo cheese with serrano ham lacquered with coriander honey. This was a simple dish but it turned out to be my favorite only because the ham reminded me of this jerky I used to eat as a kid.

Dessert was a white chocolate soup with candied ginger, raspberries, and capers marinated in ice wine. I'm not a fan of white chocolate and I loved this dish.

2009 Apr 4
Went last night for dinner with our growing contingent of 6 now. Was surprised to get in on a Friday after many times trying. They are generally quite busy although when we left at 9:30 we were the last ones there. Perhaps it was the weather or the diners are the type to eat early. We started at 7:30.

The overall impression was good. The service was also good and knowledgeable. Difficult to comment on the atmosphere as we sat in the entry alcove which looks into the open kitchen with two other small tables. The rest of the dining room was around the L-shaped corner and I couldn't get a good impression.

Nonetheless, the starters of beef tartar seemed to be well received with a very interesting plating and inclusion of cured pork (?) that had sugar and spices on it. Quite delicious the piece that my husband finally gave up. Sounded like the Serrano carpaccio was also very tasty.

I had the lightly torched gorgonzola and beet salad on a bed of crushed nuts. The cheese was a bit more pungent than I was expecting but for a big stinky cheese fan went well with the other flavours on the plate (as mentioned as well as sprigs of fresh mint, apple compote and a gelatinous fruit square that I can't remember but was tasty). This plate was actually quite filling and I couldn't finish the cheese.

My main was the pulled pork with goat cheese and a delicious pepper sauce. The flavours went together very well.

Other mains were the lamb, tuna and vegetarian canneloni dish. The lamb was raved over and was nicely and lightly prepared.

Crème brûlée for dessert, and a chocolate concoction were had. Those seemed well received.

Most of the food here seems to be very big on flavour. If you are a meat and potato eater, and like your flavours more subtle, this is not the place for you.

Had a bottle of the house wine and our portion of the bill (incl. half a bottle of wine, one cocktail, two apps and mains and one dessert) was $180. This included tax and gratuities. A little steeper than I was expecting to pay for a regular Friday night out.

Note that parties of 6 have the gratuities included in the price.




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