Foods from Amber Garden and Dalmacia

2010 Sep 29

Went last night to celebrate my father's birthday. Back when this place was still Dalmacia, it was a regular haunt. This is only my second time eating here since it became Amber Garden, though I have also tried Amber Garden once at it's original location.

Everyone but me ordered various types of veal schnitzel, all reported it being delicious. I opted to try the rabbit instead, and was quite pleased on the taste, but in future will stick to ordering rabbit dishes that involve de-boning the rabbit first - not quite as picky as fish bones, but still very picky!

My rabbit was served in a lovely sauce, and a side of beet horseradish, as well as some cooked vegetables (unremarkable) and spatzle. I strongly suspect the horseradish is made on site which is nice. The texture was quite different looking than the usual stuff one sees at the store, and the taste was lovely - and I don't even particularly like beets. It went well with rabbit, which is not something I would have guessed.

I had the soup of the day (chicken vegetable) as a starter. Too hot - even those of us who like the soup hot had to wait several minutes before we could eat it, but pleasant, in a homey, familiar chicken soup way, rather than a novel exciting way.

My main downsides have to do with service. While the service was prompt and friendly, the owner's "geniality" has always involved a higher level of up-selling than I appreciate - a good bit of the friendliness and helpfulness included suggestions on extra items we can order. I miss the service of the original Dalmacia, which had more of the "eat, eat, you look like a stick" aura: a genial hospitality meant to invoke a sense of invitation to eat their home cooking.

In the same vein, in what seems to me to be a rather unfortunate decision, on the menu only the schnitzels come with a soup or salad starter. The other main dishes (similarly priced or higher) do not. If the price point on schnitzels is really that much lower than the entire rest of the menu, they should either raise their prices an iota to include the soup or salad on all dishes (like Dalmacia used to) or lower the schnitzel one's slightly and not include the start. I ordered the soup anyways as all my dining companions were also eating starters, but it left a temporary bad taste in my mouth (that was fortunately dislodged by the food once received)

2009 Nov 3
Very disappointed by the schnitzel here. It was served with a serving of gloppy carrots and celery on the side. What the heck? Sacrilege. Terrible.

2009 Mar 9
On a whim to celebrate a special occasion, SO and I paid our second visit to the Carling location a couple nights ago. It was wonderful in an understated, caught in a time warp (timeless?) sort of way. No molecular gastronomy (Atelier was my 2nd choice were i less lazy): just well prepared Eastern European food served up by two of the most genial people in Ottawa (and a competent staff in the kitchen!).

despite a substantial %-age of Russian and other slavic DNA, my personal palette for this cuisine is a bit diminished (due to family migrations). So, no comments on the esoterica here (e.g., dimpling patterns of the perogies, or whether the sauerkraut would have satisfied my grandmother) ... all i can say is i liked the mushroom / sauerkraut perogies and also enjoyed the (made vegan for me) borscht soup!

My partner has a more nuanced perspective on fish (than i on perogies), and she endorses their rainbow trout main. Not overly seasoned or sauced, just expertly de-boned and then pan-fried / steamed w/ skin in tact, a style that allows the essence of the fish to shine. Also important (for her) was that the trout was of the smaller, white-fleshed, lake-dwelling (albeit farmed) genus, not the larger, pink-fleshed, steel-head (i think?) many restaurants use.

SO finished with some home-made custard concoction (endorsed by both the server and later by her), and i opted for a nicely balanced cherry flavored vodka.

All in all, Amber Garden is a bit against the grain of our usual choices, and with mains starting in the $16 range, perhaps a tad pricier than where we normally dine, but its somewhere we'll return to when the mood (and appetite) strikes.

2008 May 20
We went here Friday night for dinner. I was weary because there weren't many reviews on here. But I wasn't disappointed!

We received a warm welcome and were told by our server that all the foods were made by hand, from scratch. No preservatives.

We ordered latkes to start; Mr. Nanookie ordered Beef Pierogies, while I had the Classic Veal Wiener Schnitzel served with spatzle, and the house soup, which was Leek. The servings were generous, tasty and hot! My Schnitzel came with vegetables. The pierogies looked great.

There is no beer list as it changes and there are many to choose from. Our server chose our beers based on what our beer preferences were.

The service was a little slow, but that's due to the fact that the food is made by hand, and made to order. If you're not on a timetable (like needing to make a movie, like we were!) then you'll have a great time.

2007 Jan 28
I went here a few nights ago with a group. I wasn't very hungry so I just ordered a side of mushroom & sauerkraut pierogies, which were not too outstanding.

Main dishes comes with spatzle, which are little strips of creamy-like pasta. They have the rare find of wild boar on the menu. Their Borscht soup is excellent, according to one of my friends. They offer fresh cherry and cranberry juices and specialty Eastern European wines also. Cakes and tortes are baked on-site.

Service was very friendly and attentive. We accidentally stayed an hour after they closed and they were still accommodating to us!

2014 Aug 16
And I miss you too :-(

(please mark as closed)

Sad face

2007 Sep 18
I was here, and I was reading over the menu, and I recall seeing Caviar... when I came to this site, I saw it was "desperately seeked" .. you may want to call to double check, and if they dont have it - feel free to delete this post and connection.