Fauna Food + Bar
Cocktails at Fauna Food + Bar
Hamburgers at Fauna Food + Bar
Dessert at Fauna Food + Bar
Cocktails at Fauna Food + Bar
Fauna Food + Bar
Fauna Food + Bar
Fauna Food + Bar
Fauna Food + Bar
Foods from Fauna Food + Bar
Comments

May 9
Considered part of 2019’s Canada's 100 Best Restaurants list, Fauna turned out to be a major disappointment. I wanted to treat my parents to this restaurant but not only did it miss the mark as one of Canada’s best, I don’t believe it even succeeded in being a good restaurant.

We ordered 3 items: Okonomiyaki ($17), Pork Belly ($19), and 80-Day Dry Aged Rib Eye for Two ($80). The first two were the recommendation of the waitress.

Perhaps a westernized interpretation, the only resemblance this okonomiyaki had to the popular Japanese street food was a soggy cabbage pancake. Gone were the distinctive tang of okonomiyaki sauce and light bonito flakes and its place were a glorified American barbecue sauce with sautéed shiitake mushrooms and pickled ginger. To add insult to injury, this $17 pancake was the size of my palm.

The pork belly was similarly underwhelming. Despite the eye-catching ingredients listed on the menu (Tamarind! Maple! “Sichuan” Pork Rinds!), their flavours were muted at best and absent at worst. Sure, we don’t need to be able to taste and identify every single ingredient in a dish and layers in flavouring is good. However, when all you’re getting is a pan-fried piece of pork belly with a one-dimensional mole sauce you can make at home, you start wondering: 1) where are the things you’re paying $19 for and 2) is this considered false advertising?

The rib eye was nicely plated; however, the steak itself consisted of a-third, if not more, of pure fat. While we understand fat is required for flavour, the amount on that steak was excessive. A third of the original steak could have been rebuilt with those chunks of fat - and that’s not including the amount we swallowed. Unfortunately, because we had shared the dish, we didn't realize just how much there was until we compared plates close to the end of the meal. Furthermore, the steak was so salty that the side dishes were necessary to mask it and even then, my lips stung even hours after.

The service was subpar, if not mediocre. We arrived to a near empty restaurant, with one other table of two. We were told that there were reservations so we would be seated at a table where the afternoon sun was blinding. They acknowledged how bright it was but made no attempts to make us more comfortable. Furthermore, by the time we left (2 hours after), the restaurant was still empty with only 10 patrons (3 tables) in total, including us. So much for reservations.

The waitress was curt and inattentive as well, refilling only 2 out of 3 glasses of water the entire time. When we raised our concerns about the steak (I'll admit, we were a bit late doing so), she was immediately defensive, saying "It's because it's dry-aged." I don't think dry-aging creates huge chunks of fat, but ok. She came back and told us the chef said, "Our beef is fatty because it's dry-aged. You need the fat for flavour [We agree but, again, that amount was excessive]. Most people like it. If you don't, you don't have to eat it [Moot point since our plates were already cleared away then. It sounded more like she was saying (or implying with her tone) we just didn’t know what good steak tastes like]. Here, you can have a dessert if you’re still hungry. We’ll give it to you.” Although the offer of a free dessert was generous, the way it was delivered made it sound like they thought we were trying to scam them. While our comment may have been ill-timed, we weren’t looking to get anything out of it and didn’t appreciate what her tone implied. We were too bloated from the salt and grease in our meal anyway and as such, we declined the offer.

At present time, I do not believe Fauna is befit the title of one of Canada’s 100 Best Restaurants. Based on their food and service, I don’t think they even deserve to be called a good restaurant. The fact that they are considered one of the best does a disservice to the many other great restaurants in Ottawa (and Canada).

2017 Jan 7
Went to Fauna for lunch for the first time in Jan 2017. It's a very nice space - modern, chic, but still warm. We had the burger and a special - wagyu beef short rib pappardelle pasta. The pappardelle was, true to the words of the service, "killer". Very flavourful, and a good-sized portion. The hamburger had a good form - not sloppy or falling apart. It also had a unique taste, on the sweet side. The accompanying fries and salad were good. Overall, a very nice meal. Enjoyed the overall vibe of the place. Fauna has a downstairs private-room type set-up, with a table that seats around 18; would be a fun place to have a fancy get-together.

2015 Jun 27
tuna tartar ($16)
quail's egg / puffed rice / ginger / sesame / harissa / ramps

This was so pretty it deserved its own picture! Lots of zing from the fresh ginger and the spicy harissa.

I've tweeted about the misspelling of tartare before because I'm seeing it a lot lately. I think it might be an anti-frou frou hipster thing. A culinary review of this complex and inconsistent terminology: "tartare" usually indicates that a dish is raw and "tartar" means it is served with tartar sauce. However, fish "tartare" is cooked fish served with tartar sauce. (more info here: en.wikipedia.org ) So order the chicken tartar but never the chicken tartare. ;-)

2015 Jun 27
You know a restaurant is great when Mrs Fresh Foodie* wants to go back a second time within half a year! :-)

We had an 8pm reservation and were offered a not-great seat at the end of a communal table. The bar was empty, so we asked to sit there instead. No problem. Staff here are universally pleasant, friendly and fun, yet still professional.

Our food was all top-notch--creative, beautiful, and delicious. I think it has improved since our last visit.. these plates are definitely among the best in Ottawa now. Prices are in keeping with the complexity of the dishes and the quality/cost of the ingredients. Here's some of what we shared:

scallop crudo ($18, top left in pic)
raw scallop / lemon / carrot crackers / cilantro / salmon roe / olive oil / radish

burrata ($18, top right in pic)
walnut pesto / sourdough / tomatoes / olive oil / maldon

jumbo soft shell crab ($15, bottom left in pic)
tempura / smoked tomato / lemon / ginger / slaw

hanger steak ($21, bottom right in pic)
bacon, walnut, blue cheese potato salad / mushrooms / cherry tomatoes / asparagus / smoked harissa

The burrata was probably the most mind-blowingly delicious plate but they were all great really. Highly recommended!

*Note: Yes, she may kill me for referring to her as Mrs FF. :-)

2015 Jan 18
Visited with wifey on a Saturday night. The spacious room was packed and quite loud during our entire stay. It's a cool spot for sure and the light fixtures get a lot of attention from patrons.

Our overall impression of the food was in line with the comments of others: good to great, but not all wow. Presentation is wonderful and the wine list is excellent.

I was seriously tempted by an 80-day dry-aged 16 oz ribeye for two, which looked absolutely incredible, but we opted in favour of trying a variety of dishes instead.

Two dishes that really stood out for me were the red curry soup and the sweetbreads with smokey bacon and aligot (yum!). Both of these exhibited perfectly melded flavour components and were an absolute joy.

Other dishes were good to very good. One dish I wouldn't get again was the octopus. My wife has a Luso-genetic love for octopus, and preparing it with chickpeas and chorizo is a classic combo, but here the tomato made the chickpeas acidic and overpowered the chorizo. The octopus itself was pretty good, but the accompanying roasted potatoes added only bulk to the dish.

A quick rundown of the picture here, row-by-row:

* "Svazerac" - sweet and weak, tasted of anise not of whisky. Not for classic sazerac lovers!
* Red curry soup - delicious, rich, perfect!
* Bourride - A richer, Provençal take on bouillabaisse. Good, fishy, but the gravy was reeeally rich. Would have gone well with a wedge of bread.
* Oxtail ragu - Nice and meaty, a little too much connective tissue and fat for fancy food. Yummy gnudi!
* Boar cabbage roll - Nice and gamey, but fell a bit flat on flavour depth.
* Octopus - (comments above)
* Sweetbreads - Wonderful! Flavourful and generous, with well matched components.
* Sticky Toffee - Excellent! (comments below)
* Panna Cotta - Good. (comments below)

The sticky toffee dessert was perfectly executed, with moist squash cake, crème caramel ice cream, and garnishes of preserved apple and dulce de leche. The lighter panna cotta turned out to be a thin-slab gelatin version of the dessert; the delightful parts of this dish were the berry coulis and what tasted like basil sprouts (a stroke of genius if you ask me!).

It's really all about what you order. If I had walked in and had only the soup, oxtail, sweetbreads, and sticky toffee, then I'd be touting Fauna as amongst the very best in Ottawa. The ability to create multiple excellent dishes is indicative of true skill, and a little more experimentation and menu-weeding will surely result in a culinary gem.

Our primary server, Alex, was friendly and helpful. The staff at Fauna seem happy to be there and that definitely adds to the atmosphere. All in all, a great place to visit!

2015 Jan 15
Went to Fauna last night with 3 other women. On balance we enjoyed it and would return.

Let me start by saying I'm not crazy about the small plates concept. The server suggested 2-3 plates per person and we each ordered two. We did not share!! This was an ample quantity of food.

I had the tuna starter and a short rib served with a blue cheese & bacon perogie. Two others started with the same tuna. The fourth had the beet salad which she said was excellent. One order of the scallops, one of octopus and one of a curry with Tofu completed our food order.

Everyone was very happy with the food, the only exception being the short rib which was a bit over cooked and dry.

The only down side was that (AGAIN) the room was very noisy. Very challenging to converse which was what we wanted to do!! They say they are addressing it.

Don't understand why resto's renovate the whole space at great expense but do not address this
sound issue in the design phase!

2014 Dec 28
I had great expectations for Fauna based on the anticipation that grew over the 2 years it took them to open combined with the difficulty of getting a reservation once they did open (I was consistently offered 6pm or 9pm, even during the week).

So I arrived with great anticipation. The room is very nice – love the innovative lighting fixture over the bar. The exposed brick wall and windows that wrap around the corner make for a unique feel. Unfortunately I felt the food just didn’t deliver. We shared:
- the black cod dish served on ‘hummus’ of black lentils, roasted blue fingerlings
- the beet salad with orange, feta, a sprinkling of nuts and greens
- the duck breast on a bed of spaetzle with kale and plum “jam” on the side

We have had versions of all three of these at other places around town and I would have to report that Fauna’s interpretations, although were good, each dish seemed to be missing that something extra that would make you say “wow” (similar to Peachy’s experience).

Maybe my expectations were too high, maybe it was an off night - either way I wouldn’t write it off completely – I would be willing to visit again.

2014 Oct 27
Very good lunch at fauna last week. Ordered the Sablefish and WOW! Fish cooked to perfection and seasoned well. Combination of fish, lentil and pickled daikon and carrot was really amazing.

Wife ordered the Lambwich and it was very good as well...Came deconstructed so Lamb Kafta (Sausage) on top with long strip of flat bread on sumac aioli with feta. Kafta was packed with flavor. Very good dish.

Dessert was ok and visually attractive. Grapefruit sorbet was nice, the almond cake was moist but lacked in flavor. overall good dessert.

Highlight drink was the Kimchi Ceasar. Personally, It is a must if you visit Fauna. Trust me.

I will return for the night tapas style menu with friends.

2014 Oct 15
Had dinner at fauna to kick off Thanksgiving long weekend; I had heard a lot of positive reviews of this place but I was frankly a bit underwhelmed. The menu is made up of approx 12-14 small plates, ranging from $10-$20, with most situated above the $15 mark (fauna does offer a well curated selection). The waiter recommended 3 plates per person which immediately struck me as quite a bit; if you go with their recommendation you're looking at almost $60pp for just food (before dessert!).

As a group, we tried the endive salad (good amount of blue cheese but needed more dressing to bring it together), the arancini (delicious), the elk carpaccio (good but nothing special), the duck breast (another standout with perfectly roasted meat) and the tuna crudo (the complex flavors on the plate didn't work well together, in my opinion). Dessert was a squash sticky toffee pudding (yum) and a cheese plate ($18 for a pretty small portion). All in all the food was good but I was not wowed; wouldn't rule out a return visit, but not for a bit.




2015 Jun 27
We were two so of course we ordered three desserts!

cafe au lait ($11, top left)
chocolate cremeux / coffee / milk / ice cream

japanese cheesecake ($11, top right)
rhubarb / caramelized white choc / strawberry sorbet

strawberry shortcake ($12, bottom left)
strawberry curd / custard / lavender / meringue / biscuit crumble / lemon sorbet

The cafe au lait was nicely balanced, with a delicious coffee ice cream and chocolatey cremeux that were so dense they seemed more like truffles.

The cheesecake was mild and light. This was my favourite of the desserts.

The shortcake was a bit of a disappointment. There didn't seem to be any cake at all (biscuit crumbs don't really count as shortcake) and the strawberry curd tasted more like jolly rancher candy than fresh strawberries. At the end of June in Ottawa, I don't think I'm out of line to expect at least one identifiable piece of fresh delicious strawberry on something called a strawberry shortcake. The lemon sorbet and lavender were wonderful together though, and the meringues were very cute!

How else to end such a wonderful feast but with an espresso?





Apr 7
The Kim Chi Caesar is very nice. It is $15 now though. I still order it every time. :)

2015 Jun 27
Sitting at the bar made cocktails a must! Here's what we had:

kimchi caesar ($10, left of pic)
kimchi / birds eye / soy sauce / black pepper / rye

spezio estate ($11, top right)
ungava / strawberry / basil / lemon / aromatic bitters

gold fashioned ($12, bottom right)
ungava gin / cardamom / citrus bitters / grapefruit zest

The caesar was topped with a generous kimchi garnish and ate like a light appetizer. Highly recommended.

My wife really enjoyed the spezio estate. I tasted it too and loved how the basil aroma and strawberry/citrus/juniper flavours worked together with the sweet/sour/bitter tastes. This one's a real gem!

The gold fashioned was very subtle, as any version of an old-fashioned should be. I tasted the gin and my nose was full of grapefruit but I didn't really notice any cardamom or bitters. This was the drink I started with and it was a perfect way to quickly shed the stress of the workday sprint.





Oct 20
The lunchtime Dry-Aged Hamburger ($18) is over the top! Loaded up with bacon, cheese, fried onions, and aïoli, it was delicious but almost a little too rich (even for me) with the already juicy perfectly cooked meat patty and the brioche-style bun.

My humbleburgerly opinion is that cheese, aïoli, and brioche buns only make bad burgers better; they do nothing to improve an already great burger. Only bacon can do that.

Faced with the unfair choice of fries OR salad, I opted for both (half-half). There might have been a surcharge for this but my father-in-law picked up the bill so I don't know. The fries were absolutely brilliant — hot, crisp, and salty, with a slight sweet-tang as though they'd been spritzed with malt vinegar.

Other lunch plates looked excellent too. Lunchtime is a wonderful way to experience the joy of Fauna without breaking the bank.