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Tags: Canadian · Restaurant · Vanier
The new establishment of Michael Farber (ex-Domus), in the premises formerly occupied by Ambiente.

Foods from Farbs Kitchen and Wine Bar

2014 Aug 8
An article in today's on-line Citizen.

2013 Apr 21
I stopped in for lunch last week and had a terrific plate of fish and chips. A bit denser than say Whalesbone, but the fish was perfectly cooked and the breading was beautifully seasoned. I was reminded that I have never had a bad meal here. There are a few places in town that I visited a bunch of times and have never been disappointed. Maybe a new thread: places I have never had a bad meal.

2011 Oct 9
Visited here for lunch the other day. Used to really enjoy this place when it was Ambiente (the best restaurant in Ottawa while it was open) and as Greeerlovesgovert pointed out the décor of the place has been kept much the same – sadly everything else, is nothing like Ambiente.

From other visits to Farb’s I had already come to the conclusion that this is far from being one of my favourite restaurants but there is not much to pick from in Ottawa once you start going east (besides Fraser's across the street which usually requires a reservation).

Our meal started with bread and herb butter. It looked interesting but the “herb” butter was not explained (as is usual at other places where they have done some extra work to make the butter more interesting) and I could not distinguish what had been added so I can’t elaborate. The bread, also looked interesting and seemed to be flecked with something, however it turned out to be on the hard side (almost like it was last night’s bread reheated).

We tried the potato onion soup which arrived hot, not too thick and had a well-rounded flavour. The serving was very generous.

Next the two mains: risotto and steak frites. Both could be described as average and both received the comment that the salt shaker was used a little too generously. The salad with the steak frites was a nice addition as it had little strips of fresh fennel sliced up into it that gave it added depth. I would return to eat a larger version of this salad.

The last thing I would have to say about our visit was our server had a very nonchalant attitude, basically he was doing his job but was not overly enthusiastic, as David Adjey would say, the “tableside romance” was definitely lacking.

2011 May 12
Took H for a birthday dinner at Farbs on Tuesday. We were cashing in our living social tasting menu coupon. From what I can tell, a tasting menu isn't otherwise offered, so your results may vary. The deal was $100 for five (small) courses plus 3oz wine pairings. We specified a pork-free meal, so again, your results may vary.

Before any of that came, we were served grainy bread with herbed butter, and an amuse bouche of lobster cake on an anise-y slaw. Auspicious start. The first course was house-cured Gravlax "panzanella", which is on the regular menu ( It was paired with a Beaumont Chenin Blanc from South Africa. Tasty. Don't think I'd had salmon and feta before, but I wasn't blown away. The salmon was a little bland, but I'm a west coaster, so I take these things seriously. Next was Elk Carpaccio. This was fairly trad—served with greens, shaved hard cheese and balsamic. The elk was sliced a bit thicker than I'm used to beef carpaccio. Mild and sweet. Definitely pleasant, but not a sock-knocker. Paired with an Italian white whose name escapes me. After that, it was time for the 'mains'. First along was a braised lamb and goats cheese open face sandwich. Very tasty. The lamb—as any braised meat should be—was full of flavour and extremely tender, and it went nicely with the goat's cheese. This was served with a montepulciano d'abbruzzo. Next came a large leg of duck confit. Also very flavourful, with a slightly spicy sauce. Served with a Niagara Gamay. Probably the best duck confit I've had. Dessert was cinnamon sugar beignets with a late harvest riesling. The bill was 'served' with some one-bite cookies—nice touch.

All in all, it was a very tasty meal, with prompt service, and good timing on the 4 courses. Very good value for what we paid. Having said that, being on a student budget we probably won't return for an à la carte meal at the higher price point. If you live in the area, though, you should definitely give this a try for a treat.

2010 Oct 16
Had the pleasure of visiting Farbs last Tuesday evening. There were four of us and we all enjoyed the meal, service and the relaxed friendly atmosphere. A tasty amuse bouche of a two bite fish cake. Crispy panko crumb and mild but flavourful interior of white fish. Three of us had the french onion soup and one had the starter salad with pear and goat cheese on lovely fresh crisp greens. The squash ravioli was great. The only slight complaint might be that the main was not quite hot enough. Topping the evening off with a rich chocolate truffle compliments of the house was a nice surprise.

2010 Sep 27
When did Farbs become the kind of place that has a television over the bar? That’s not how I remembered it.

My husband and I went for a birthday dinner last Saturday night (September 25th) and found the place full, the atmosphere cozy and warm. Our server was cheerful, despite being run off of her feet. I saw another server pulling triple duty as host and bar tender, but that was it for wait staff. I think we waited a bit too long to receive our appetizers and our mains – I checked my watch, which is a good indicator that you’re waiting too long – but we weren’t in a rush so the wait wasn’t a big problem.

I ordered the duck breast salad to start and my husband had sushi. Both were delicious. My salad was such a generous portion that I didn’t want to finish it for fear of being unable to fully appreciate my main course, the salmon filet. My husband helped me out.

As for the mains, they were good, but not high-impact as I had remembered from previous visits. My fish was served with a creamy dill sauce and delicious little boiled potatoes. Overall, it was a tasty, gentle dish, but I found myself wishing I had a wedge of lemon to liven up the flavours. The fillet was a good-sized portion, but some of it was undercooked so I couldn’t finish it. My husband told me later that his steak, while served with a delicious red-wine reduction, was a tendony piece of meat. Neither of us had room for dessert, so we finished with good coffee. Two appetizers, two mains, four drinks and two coffees – with a non-spectacular 10% tip – came to $175.

Looking around the room, I saw that most people were dressed smart casual, as you’d expect for a restaurant with decor as elegant and understated as Farbs. But a few patrons were wearing jeans and hoodies – one fellow was wearing athletic camo pants and an A&F polo shirt. While I realize that a restaurant can’t or won’t police its patrons’ fashion decisions, it’s clear to me that Farbs has become a place where locals feel comfortable wearing jeans, hoodies and camo pants. And watching TV at the bar. That said, the restaurant’s lovely atmosphere is still so lovely that I don’t know how these people can feel anything but underdressed.

I think location is a hindrance. Farbs isn’t in a place you notice – by the time you’re on Beechwood, you’ve already passed it . Visibility is awful. Also, the building it’s in is semi-attached to other stores – not free-standing like the Fraser Café, it’s competition down the street – so it seems less exclusive. It’s been several restaurants over the years, so it’s clear that it’s hard to make a successful go of this location. I think management should either drop the prices and make Farbs a true home for neighbourhood drop-ins or up the prices, and the quality of the food, and make it more of a special occasion restaurant. At one time, I would have ranked Farbs on par with the Fraser Café – not anymore. Still your best bet on Beechwood.

2010 Mar 27
I dined at Farbs for the first time yesterday night.

The restaurant is beautiful. The service was good.

There was some confusion with our reservation, hence our table was given to someone else but they managed to accommodate us and offered a complimentary glass of wine to my friend who had to deal with the mini kerfuffle. To me, this speaks volumes.

We launched straight into the entrees. I ordered the Cassoulet while my friend had the Striploin.

For the amuse-bouche, my friend had a seabass fritter (she said it was good) and I had roasted beets with blue cheese, walnuts, apple slice and greens (it was fine - basically a sampling of their appetizer Beet Salad I assume).

My friend enjoyed her striploin. I was far less impressed with my Cassoulet (beans and grilled tofu). The taste was fine but nothing impressive. At a $22 price-point, I definitely expected and wanted more from the dish.

2010 Mar 12
Made the trek to New Edinburgh this even to try this place out. If there was a picture of trendy this place would be it. Very cool inside. What can you say about a place where you can see the Bradly smoker in the kitchen. We were a walk in so we were told the only seats were the high seats and table in the window. I think they may have been bending the truth a bit since the place was empty the whole time we were in there until a single woman entered and the server said she could sit anywhere. We started with Small Main- Poutine fresh-cut fries, elk shoulder, smoke aged cheddar, caramelized onions,with purple basil dressing it up. Very enjoyable. I over heard a take out order on the phone and decided to go with the small main tortiere potato short crust, ground Bison, wilted greens, and just. To my surprise I guess the take out got the last one since I was told the menu had just changed and it was no longer available. Instead I ordered Small Main-Pappardelle Hand rolled pasta,bolognese shiitake mushrooms, garlic, and fresh herbs. I did detect a small amout of what I think was elk in this dish. My partner ordered small main quail
prosciutto wrapped, stuffed with brandy marinated wild mushrooms and Riopelle, with roasted fingerling potatoes, and seasonal vegetables. Good but it could have gone easier on the salt. When they say small main they ain't kidding. I think I will go for the regular main next visit since I left hungry.

2009 Nov 22
I have been a fan of this website for several years but never committed to actually posting a review until this weekend. I felt I needed to share my experience.

I had plans with three other friends on Friday evening to celebrate someone's birthday. Living in a neighbourhood with some great restaurants, I was happy to suggest a local spot. Two of us had recently been to Fraser Cafe so I made a reservation at Farbs Kitchen and Wine Bar. I had been once already, when it had first opened. The first experience had been positive overall save for some dubious service. That first time, the fact that the chef came to chat with us at the end of the meal and that we ate spectacular food was enough for me to forget the rough service.

When we arrived, we were greeted by the same waiter I had last time. I didn't say anything to my friends and hoped for the best. The evening was off to a good start as we shared the decadent poutine as an appetizer and dug into our pear salads made with red wine poached pears, brie and pecans. Another friend had the squash soup and also loved its rich flavours.

After a lovely beginning with our apps, the arrival of our mains marked the end of an enjoyable experience at Farbs- not so much because of the food but because of the terrible service that followed. Two of us ordered the risotto and it was stunning. Risotto is one of my favourite dishes and the duck confit in this dish was rich and satisfying without being overwhelming. I loved it.

My other two friends ordered the pork belly. Being accustomed to pork belly served in smaller length-wise cuts, we were a little surprised to see large cubes of meat on their plates with serious amounts of still white fat in the middle. Perhaps some people enjoy their pork belly in such a way but my friends did not and one was particularly disappointed with the dish. When the waiter arrived to ask the standard "how is everything here", she told him she was disappointed in the way the belly was prepared. The waiter took on the most condescending tone and explained to her that pork belly was uncured bacon- as if she'd never had it before. He didn't offer any explanation on why the chef prepares it this way or whether he could do anything to make sure the belly was a little more browned. He just took off with not another word.

Sitting next to the kitchen- it was easy for me to overhear the waiter complaining to another wait staff and some of the kitchen staff about my friend's comment.

After that, the waiter rarely stopped by our table. We were never asked if we wanted refills on our wine. The dessert menu was dropped on our table and there was no discussion of any of the items when we ordered. We were never asked if we wanted coffee or tea or anything else for that matter. Our water did get refilled but that was about it. We were the last table to leave the restaurant at the end of the night and yet we had to ask another server for our bill- we had not seen our waiter for ages by then. By then, the chef was also hanging around at the bar and unlike my first visit, we were not greeted or thanked on our way out by the chef or our waiter.

I love the food at Farbs but I also expect some level of service with a restaurant of that caliber and those prices. The first time I was at Farbs, I was a bit disappointed that the waiter didn't provide more descriptions of the food and was on the lower end of attentive and helpful. This time around, he was rude and negligent. That is inexcusable for a restaurant that is supposedly in the top 10 of the city. Bad service can ruin a dining experience no matter how great the food may be. This was certainly the case for us at Farbs.

Ironically, my friend enjoyed her app and her dessert so much that she would have likely returned to Farbs despite the pork belly- but the lack of service ruined the experience.

I'm not sure I will be able to give it another chance either- despite wanting to support the local businesses in my neighbourhood.

2009 Sep 22
My husband and I had eaten at this location when it had been Ambiente and had loved the food and the warm, intimate atmosphere. Since the place re-opened as Farbs last fall, I’ve read mixed reviews about the service, so we thought that appetizers and drinks would be a good way to check it out without making much of a commitment.
When we visited last Saturday night, I was pleased to see that the restaurant didn’t look much different than it had when it had been Ambient – it’s still warm and cozy, decorated in muted earth tones and golden light – no reason to change a winning combination. Even without a reservation, the hostess welcomed us warmly and showed us to a high-top table in the middle of the restaurant. From where we sat, we had a perfect view of the chef and his staff bustling around in the kitchen. At 7:30 pm on a Saturday night, the restaurant was almost full, bubbling with good spirits and conversation. As soon as I saw the menu, I found myself wishing we could stay for dinner. Everything looked delicious, but the Cornish hen wrapped in bacon sounded particularly delicious to me. Other mains included moussaka, flatiron steak, pickerel, a bison ribeye steak and a boar striploin with corn fritters. Sounds tempting, no? Since my husband and I both love the Fraser Café, we stuck with our original plan and ordered just drinks and appetizers: he had the steak tartar made with house pickles, shallots, aioli and truffle oil, while I asked for the risotto with Chorizo sausage, sweet corn, and Le Coprin mushrooms. I ordered a glass of Prosecco to start and my husband ordered a Ceasar made with beer. He wanted to see what the combination would be like and it was unexpectedly fantastic!
After relaying our order to the kitchen, our server got us started with fresh bread and a generous portion of flavour-packed roasted red pepper butter. Spectacular! Next came an espresso cup full of chilled melon soup accompanied by a crispy slice of prosciutto – a delightful combination that probably won’t be on the menu much longer as the weather gets cooler. Seeing that we’d finished our bread and red pepper butter, the server thoughtfully brought us more. Our appetizers arrived approximately 15 minutes after we ordered them – just enough time for us to warm up, relax and take in the mood of the place. I had a cursory bite of my husband’s steak tartar, which was good but not as tempting as my risotto. What can I say about this risotto? Until now, my favorite risotto has been my own – I’ve been trumped! The rich, creamy smell of the cheese was intoxicating and the portion was so substantial that my husband predicted I wouldn’t want a main course at 9pm. The rice was cooked to a perfect el dente texture, which I know from personal experience takes attention and patience. The creamy, saltiness of the cheese combined with the satisfying, garlicky chewiness of the sausage was an ideal combination. I’ve never been a big mushroom aficionado, so I’m not sure what flavour the mushrooms (Chanterelles?) lent to this dish, but since the overall effect was so wonderful, I’ll have to give the mushrooms a thumbs up, too. Don’t change a thing with this risotto. Soon after our empty plates were cleared, our server brought us two delightful hand-made truffles – one a chocolate and mint combination, the other chocolate and orange. They were practically black with cocoa -- I convinced my husband to let me have both while he finished up with a beer. Our bill, before tip, came to $55, which I thought was more than reasonable for two substantial appetizers and three drinks. The gift of those truffles at the end was the perfect touch. I like a sweet bite to finish my meal, but don’t really want a big dessert. As for the service, I have nothing but praise for the woman who seated and served us – she was warm and friendly and knew her menu. We didn’t wait for anything and felt professionally looked after. We’ll be returning soon!



2011 May 27
Delicious poutine. Very fragrant with the mushrooms and caramelized onions. Hanger steak slices cooked rare (perfect), nice sweet and aromatic sauce lightly coating the dish. Not too much cheese or steak (would have preferred a bit more), not sure what cheese is used, not curds that's for sure. The potatoes were excellent.

$18 main

Very nice dining room, comfortable space. Good microbrews on tap, good wines (one very nice merlot from Washington state, Velvet Devil).

2011 Apr 12
I went to brunch this sunday at Farbs. The Egg benedicts are great and original. We also tried the Duck Confit crêpes, which were also great.

Good place to go to brunch, it is worth it.