Sunday Brunch Buffet at Le Café
Sunday Brunch Buffet at Le Café
Le Café
Foods from Le Café
Comments

2011 Nov 14
I finally used my brunch voucher here the other day. There were both hits and misses. I found General Blackie's chicken to be quite good, crisp and a little sweet with a good savoury flavour not common to chicken. Coconut/shrimp soup was good with just enough heat and the beef with garlic and eggplant was well prepared. French toast was pretty good but nothing special and the creme brulee, profiteroles, and mousse were nice, well-sized desserts.

Not so great: the pork shoulder was too sweet and the cornbread was subpar. Cannelloni was really salty, shanghai noodles were poorly cooked, bok choy was bland. Sushi was not particularly well executed, nor did the potstickers make any sort of lasting impression despite their good looks. Nanaimo bars were nothing special despite the hype from the dessert lady.

Standard brunch fare like eggs benedict and sausage and bacon was nothing out of the ordinary.

Overall, I ate quite a bit and enjoyed myself but it's pricy if you're just looking for a more traditional sort of brunch. If you're getting brunch, it looks like it's only $3 more to add a cocktail... so maybe good value for some. Would maybe go back if there was an updated menu; overall, I thought the quality was pretty inconsistent. Service was quite good.

2011 Aug 7
Extremely disappointed with my most recent visit to Le Café a couple of weeks ago. The food was just not up to the calibre of this chef or the amount of promotion of this restaurant!

The watermelon soup was so unpleasant it was difficult to finish (a really weird mixture of flavours). The lobster salad was flavourful but was surrounded by big chunks of tomatoes (not at the standard of presentation expected).

The two mains were an improvement but were not overly memorable. I don’t even remember the dessert.

Two other comments:
- Although we were sitting outside by the canal on a lovely night, the restaurant was essentially empty which did not help the atmosphere and they had many of their side walls down which made it feel like we were in a cave
- I found our waiter to have a very self-important and unhelpful attitude (like he was extremely annoyed he was at work)

The only good thing was that we were there after 7pm which meant we were able take advantage of the Two Can Dine for $39 Special. This is a good deal and I guess some of the disappointments can be disregarded when you only pay $39 for two meals.

If you are looking for an “upscalsih” dinner out, there are lots of other restaurants in Ottawa serving superior food to this (The Wellington Gastropub, Fraser Café, Allium, Canvas, Black Cat Bistro, The Whalesbone Oyster House, Arc Lounge, to name only a few). I will not be returning to Le Cafe.

2011 Jul 31
Just returned from Sunday brunch at Le Cafe, we usually try and make it down there at least once a summer to enjoy the patio by the canal.
After reading many things about people's mixed experiences recently, I was curious whether it would live up to my memory of it.

We made a reservation for 10:30, and it was lucky we did. By 11, they were turning away walk-ins because they were full. This is most certainly a result of their LivingSocial coupon since I have never seen it so busy. We also had one of these coupons but there is absolutely no stigma to using it, since everyone in the restaurant seemed to have one!

The food was once again very good, certainly no complaints. We dined with our two young children and the serving staff was very accommodating and prompt. I am always a fan of the Blackie Chicken, but the cannelloni was also delicious this time through.

There were no problems with dishes being full while we were there, although we were one of the first people in the restaurant so I wouldn't expect there to be.

All in all, another great visit, especially given the bargain of the LivingSocial voucher.

2011 May 7
I also got the group buy coupon for the Sunday brunch buffet at Le Cafe, and used it with partner about a month ago. We had really high hopes and had been looking forward to it for weeks-- one more than planned, as they cancelled our reservation the first time around because of 'a problem with the kitchen.'

It was really a mixed bag-- some stuff was a hit, but there was plenty of miss. Unfortunately, there wasn't much offered in terms of vegetarian options-- and what was offered, wasn't all that good. We were content with it at the 2-for-1 price we paid, but wouldn't have been had we paid full price ($28/person).

The highlight for both of us was the French toast baguette-- we loved the concept, and it was reasonably good. I kind of liked General Blackie's chicken at first, too, but wasn't sure by the end.
Desserts were okay. Not much good or bad to really say about the food itself.

As for the buffet: The cold, salad and veg area was presented so nicely at the beginning, but it wasn't refreshed for the entire time we were there, discouraging repeated visits. There were also long stretches where the hot foods were depleted and not refilled.

The service was great overall, with a couple blips. The fresh orange juice refills were unlimited and always prompt-- maybe the best part of the brunch! Just as I was lifting my fork-to-mouth for the first bite of brunch, our waiter appeared and plopped the group buy voucher on the table for me to fill out and sign. Also noticed the woman (manager?) at the front reception getting stressed and not getting along perfectly with her staff, with some grumpy/clueless-looking diners looking on from the line as we left.

No plans to return or recommend to others, though it's worth a try if the menu interests you.

2011 Apr 10
The food was very good. Everything listed on the brunch menu were set up at three stations around the floor of the restaurant, a sweets section, hot section and cold. I was able to stomach a little bit of each and overall, most things were very good and a few were excellent. My favorites of the brunch were the raw salmon slices, the seared beef and eggplant, the thai coconut broth, the eggs benedict, the pork shoulder and the desserts.
included beverages were a choice of grapefruit, orange juice, tea and coffee. I had the coffee and it was, again surprisingly, very good coffee. Wasn’t able to snap any pics, but overall, presentation was good for a buffet and food was pretty top notch for a brunch buffet.

Everything was made to a good standard of quality.
overall a very good brunch experience and would go again.

more on
foodismmm.wordpress.com

2011 Mar 27
I was a little worried about service and food quality at Le Cafe because of what I had read on this blog recently, but when we went today to use our Living Social coupon, we were pleasantly surprised.

We booked a reservation on "open table" and when we showed up half an hour early the hostess was clearly upset that she had no window tables available for us, but the view was unimportant and we really didn't care where we were seated.

I think the service throughout from waitstaff and busboys was very good. Polite, attentive and friendly. There were also kitchen staff constantly replenishing the buffet tables with fresh items. At one point the manager stopped by the table to make sure we were happy with everything and to see if there was anything else we needed. Is it possible that management looks at this blog and took corrective measures?

Regarding the coupon, there was no problem redeeming it, no rolling of eyes or sideways glances and our server was apologetic that parking could not be reimbursed on this deal.

I am not a huge fan of buffets, but I think that the food we had this afternoon was impressive. Standouts for me included the thai coconut seafood soup which was velvety smooth with bits of sweet crab. The roasted cherry tomato and fried bread salad exploded with flavor, and there was a beet salad with acidulated celery and pecans that I also enjoyed. Thickly sliced bits of rare roast beef were presented with a creamy roasted eggplant salad. On the hot table, the General Blackie's chicken was a favorite, as the coating on the chicken remained crispy, despite being served out of a steam table and being liberally doused with sweet and spicy sauce. A singapore noodle dish had tiny shrimp that were tender and perfectly cooked, and the mashed potatos with chorizo were a spicy compliment to the house pierogis (carb overload?). I skipped the eggs benedict, as they didn't look that appetizing; maybe they had been on the steam table a while? French toast was done the way I like it good thick crusty baguette slices fried in a very eggy dip that were crisp on the outside with a rich custardy interior. A pork shoulder served with cubes of spicy cornbread was nice, as was a cherry smoked salmon with fennel salad. There were a few more dishes on the hot buffet and the sushi/salad bar but I did not try them all.

There were 4 nice quality cheeses available with a variety of artisanal breads and toasts. I skipped the offering of breakfast pastries, but all looked quite good; muffins, danish etc. We shared a tasting assortment of the many desserts and most were quite good. Elegant custard and fruit tarts were pretty and featured a sweet and crisp crust. A berry creme brulee had a lovely fresh strawberry flavor, and a creamy tapioca pudding with very large pearls was delightful. A chocolate mousse offering was only so-so, and not bad, but not worth choosing over the other selections. The macarons (we had a raspberry and a lemon) were perfect with lovely crisp/chewy texture. I liked them better than the last ones I had at the French Baker.

The buffet as we experienced it today was well worth the full price of $27.95, but at half price thanks to Living Social, it was incredible value. I'd say the management has got things back under control, and I would recommend Le Cafe.

And the picture is of tap water chilled in bottles that is served on arrival, a touch that I really appreciated.

2011 Mar 20
I too went to the NAC's brunch for the first time thanks to the Living Social 2-for-1. We had a reservation for 1 p.m., and when we arrived, we were angrily told to wait by the confused and huffy hostess. So we waited, only to have half a dozen other groups arrive, pass ahead of us and be seated. Not sure what the problem was when we first arrived 30 seconds earlier!

It was a decent brunch, although the vegetarian options were very limited. I was disappointed by the lack of any warning about the meat content in certain dishes. For a buffet, I was also surprised that keeping the food stations stocked and clean wasn't more of a priority for the staff.

The table service was absolutely terrible. The waiter we had was extremely inattentive. We were never offered the coffee or juice (that was apparently included with the meal). We waited and waited and waited for water. The server never mentioned the food options or how the buffet was set up; however we were reminded (twice) that the Living Social deal did not include tax and gratuity, which I found to be quite presumptuous. Serve me a coffee or a glass of water, or deliver my bill to me within 20 minutes of being asked, and I might consider a gratuity!

This was Le Cafe's first (and last) opportunity to wow me and entice me to return with friends and family at full price; however they failed miserably. For much less, you can get a great breakfast at Manxx down the street.

2011 Feb 27
We decided to give this place a try after signing up online for a 2-for-1 special for the Sunday brunch buffet through the Living Social website.

I had heard many postive reviews, even comparing the place to Le Chateau Laurier's weekend brunch offerings. Well, after our most disappointing experience this afternoon I would have to say this comparison is an unimaginable stretch.

We arrived for our 1 p.m. seating to stand in line for 10 minutes. The hostess was apparently getting so nasty with people ahead of us that we witnessed a group of four turn around and head out - "It's getting ugly in there", they joked. People who did not call to confirm their own reservation(?)were being turned away, and being told the place was full, even though there were at least 10 empty tables remaining in the restaurant after we were finally seated.

The food was a disaster. Well, whatever remained of it. We arrived at the hot food table to find empty trays, no bowls or plates left, and serving tongs clogged unattractively with clumps of unrecognizable bits. After some time when the hot dishes were replenished at a painfully slow pace, it appeared there was little choice for vegetarians. Singapore style noodles and ham; fried chicken; Eggs Benedict with ham; some sort of chorizo; bacon; steamed bok choy; and French toast. A strange collection of brunch foods, in our opinion.

There was also a salad table, many of which they had run out of. This included, according to the placards on the table that we could only wistfully read out loud by this point, some sort of drunken tomato salad, tofu, daikon and cucumber salad, and cherry wood smoked salmon with fennel. There were some dregs of coconut chicken broth, with no bowls, some crusty rolls, and some basic sushi.

The dessert table was the only part of the buffet spread that offered some choice, albeit very pedestrian; an assortment of cheeses, though nothing too exotic, some glazed croissants and danishes, some small tarts and puddings, bite-sized brownies, and fruit salad.

It took our server 45 minutes to come to our table and bring us the orange juice included in the buffet; another 20 minutes to bring the coffee we asked for. We decided not to wait for the forks that someone forgot to set our table with, and swiped some from the empty table beside us.

We also weren't told that parking was complementary and that the hostess could validate our parking voucher; we only discovered this accidentally upon checking the wesbite afterwards.

For $27.95 per person, I would expect more cordial service, better organization, larger variety of dishes for vegetarians and fish eaters, and at the very least, maybe an omelette made-to-order station, some carved roast beef, some seafood, and way better desserts.

Better choice of music would be appreciated - I don't want to listen to pop lyrics asking me to "get down low" when I'm in a place that bills itself as classy and with a top chef on its team.

This dining room is very well lit with floor-to-ceiling picture windows overlooking the canal. It's a great piece of real estate, and deserving of a much better restaurant. But at this rate, it's got a long ways to go to be comparable to the Chateau Laurier.

2010 Jul 1
My son and I went to lunch yesterday at Le Café following the public unveiling of the life-sized bronze statue of Oscar Peterson by the NAC facing Elgin Street.

We decided to have the lunch table d'hôte. Two lunch items for $18.

I started with a salad which was excellent. Arugula, goat cheese, pear, radish and lightly sugared pecans. My son had a substantial bowl of very tasty black bean soup.

Our mains were a rainbow trout with jasmine rice and side of carrots and rapini. Dreamy sauce. So rich and creamy. And then the 'beef shins'. An osso bucco style dish. No skimping on the meat here. Served with mashed potatoes and the same side of veggies.

The starter buns were not great. The trio of spreads were! Pumpkin pesto, salted butter and then roasted red pepper, sun-dried tomato and garlic.

No room for dessert but I did like the cup of coffee. Nice and strong.

I look forward to going back as I would like to try the Taste 5 menu.

If you would like to see pictures and read more, you are welcome to check out my blog at:

ottawafood.blogspot.com

2010 Jun 6
Back in the dark ages of the last millennium, this was one of our go-to places for special occasions, but then they went downhill. After a couple of disappointing visits, we stopped going... must be 14-15 years ago now. But now, with Blackie at the helm, we figured it was time to head back there. Based on our lunch there last week, I'd say they're definitely back as one of the better downtown dining options.

My meal was a two-parter special that wasn't on the regular menu, starting with a really nice salad with mixed greens, candied walnuts, thinly sliced radish, and shavings of a cheese whose name slips my mind. The main was a generous portion of rainbow trout, perfectly cooked, and served with jasmine rice, carrots, rapini, and a tasty sauce that did not overpower the fish. The only nit I would pick is with the rapini (fried), which was fairly tasteless and bitter. Some chard or spinach would have improved the dish. My wife had the "Cape Breton" lobster, done up with a Thai red curry sauce and accompanied by jasmine rice. Very nice indeed. At lunchtime, starters are in the $9-$14 range, and mains ring in at $14-$19. At dinnertime, the mains jump up to the $29-$40 range.

They have a fairly interesting wine list that is about 50% Canadian, which is pretty good - but I'd like to see them bite the bullet and take it to 100%. Prices are fairly typical for downtown Ottawa (which is to say, too high).

Service was okay, though our server didn't seem to know too much about wine, and he wasn't particularly friendly. I don't expect a server to be effusively friendly, but he was just a little too far in the other direction (aloofness?). That's one aspect of our recent visit that harkened back to earlier times dining at the NAC.

On the plus side, though, they have one of the best patios for outdoor dining in the area. It was a great place to be on a warm and sunny afternoon... except for that woman nearby wearing way too much perfume - sheesh! Fortunately, the playful breezes only occasionally pushed the fumes our way.

We'll definitely go back to sample some more of Chef Blackie's creations.

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2007 Feb 19
Then came the main course, Le Café’s Rendition of the Classic “Cassoulet”, a confit of duck (from Quebec), grilled saucisse de Toulouse and roast pork breast (from Ontario) and Sauvignon Blanc braised white beans with fresh tomatoes and herbs. Delicious! The confit was moist without being too greasy, the pork breast was perfectly cooked and the sausage was grilled, but not dry. The beans were delicious, full of tomato flavour and hint of basil maybe? I thoroughly enjoyed the meal with a Mission Hill Merlot.



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2012 Feb 16
Aside from the coffee, I found the macarons at the dessert table to be the most welcome surprise. All-you-can-eat *macarons*!!

The quality of all the desserts was a notch above what you would normally see at a buffet.

2012 Feb 16
As far as buffets go this is a pretty decent one. Selection is somewhat limited but the quality is relatively high, like a good cafeteria. You won't find some of the "traditional" things you might expect, like pancakes or a carvery station with roast beef and ham. But you will find some innovative combinations and Asian-influenced dishes.

And the coffee was absolutely spectacular!

2011 Feb 18
Brunch deal today
livingsocial.com

2010 Jun 15
Was here on Sunday for the brunch buffet and could not have been more impressed. It helped that it was a beautifully sunny day and we were able to sit right beside the canal.

The food was excellent, I can't think of one dish that I was disappointed in; the list of items from the web site is exactly what was served at the brunch. Particular standouts for me included the lamb and the homemade perogies. Service was great and they were very attentive to our two-year old daughter and our calls for copious amounts of coffee refills.

For the two of us (under five are free), our total with tip and tax was $73. If I remember correctly, this works out to about $10/person cheaper than the Laurier and I would say they are very comparable, with the advantage going to Le Cafe on a bright sunny day.

We will definitely be back to enjoy again.

2009 Jul 27
Le Café now serves Sunday Brunch! (Starting July 26th) Their sample menu can be found here:
www.nac-cna.ca



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2011 Apr 18
New User 3740, I feel the need to say something because some of your comments leave me confused.

* Bacon being undercooked is a matter of taste unless it's raw. I like extra crispy but I rarely find that at buffets.
* Asian food looking scary does not sound like the problem is with the food.
* Desserts often have a glaze to preserve their freshness. This is normal and considered desirable. I bet they would have tasted nice.
* Roast beef *is* grey. Meat turns grey when cooked in the absence of nitrites.
* Sushi may be dry, but to describe it as "disgusting" doesn't really mean anything without more information.
* Are you honestly saying that the only vegetables in the salads were radishes and onions, or is that hyperbole?
* A plate of cheese to share with everyone else sounds quite normal for a buffet. There's usually a platter near the desserts with several cheeses and a garnish of real or fake grapes. You are expected to carve off little chunks of the cheeses and take them to your table on your own plate.
* You can't say "Bread? Barely." and expect that to mean something! :-)
* I'm sorry to hear that you vomited later that evening. You should call Le Café and let them know that this happened. There's no reason to think it was caused by the brunch food unless it happened to multiple customers.

2011 Apr 17
This is my first food review ever, normally I wouldn't bother but for what you are paying, people should be warned.

Went for brunch in April 2011 and had been looking forward to is based on the price. What a joke. The place is not well designed, the food tables are small, and the service was what you could call 'absent'. For the price $28+ you would expect to have tasty, well cooked food or a variety. Not so. The warm food was cold and the cold food was lukewarm and nasty looking. Trust me, I love to eat but was hard pressed to find something to eat after trying out the 'warm' breakfast items. The bacon was undercooked and greasy, the asian food looked scary, and the desserts all had a slimey/sticky glazed over cover.

The line ups are long because people are waiting for the trays to be filled up again. The roast beef was grey and the sushi was dry and disgusting. The smoked salmon was too fishy and not enough smokey. The salads lacked vegetables. Come on, put something out other than seeds, radishes, and onions. You had to hunt down servers to get coffee refills and the overall lack of anything other to drink at your disposal other than tap water was unfortunate. Cheese? Forget about it. There is a plate of it to share with everyone else. Bread? Barely. The fruit salad was lame and soggy. They looked like frozen fruit (mostly melon variety) that had been sitting out over night.

Short and sweet of it is...save your money and eat elsewhere. The atmosphere is lacking plus there was dropped food all over the floor and the price is overpriced for underwhelming food. $30 and time I wish I could have back! And, I eventually puked what I could find to eat up by the end of the evening...it was making me sick.