Poutine at Absinthe Café Resto Bar
Fondue at Absinthe Café Resto Bar
Absinthe Café Resto Bar
Absinthe Café Resto Bar
Absinthe Café Resto Bar
Foods from Absinthe Café Resto Bar

2012 Dec 16
A couple of months ago I went to Absinthe for a drink after a dinner out in Hintonburg. The service was great – we sat at the bar, and got the spiel about absinthe – the drink. I thought the whole concept was cool and totally appreciated that anyone in that place could give that spiel.
So, then, in October, a friend from TO was visiting. We tried to go to that *other* place in Hintonburg but alas it was Sunday. Somehow, dinner on a Sunday is……….er…….difficult in Ottawa. Frankly, fun dinner for two girls is difficult still, but I digress……

We went to Absinthe. It was freakin’ amazing. From start to finish. We sat at the bar – which is beautiful by the way. In front of the lovely green Absinthe backdrop. Patrick waited on us. It was so so so so good – a delicious surprise from start to finish. The wine also good.

Service fantastic. Presentation beautiful. We even called out the chef so my friend could tell him how awesome he was.

I had the tuna/scallop appetizer followed by the arugula salad and then…..the duck and fois gras. Same as Bonvivant!

I will love this place as long as they keep doing it up this way. The service is great, they know their stuff – enough camaraderie and enough space. But also, I have to say, I went back over a month later, and not only did the waiter Patrick remember me, but I got up to go to the washroom, and another server (who had brought and presented one of our courses) said to me “Welcome Back”. And, Vonvivant, I had this same combo AGAIN because it was so damn good!! Yep, tuna/scallop, arugula salad, duck with fois gras. OMG!!!

The wine was awesome too – I was prompted to write this because we had the Irony Cab Sauv which was available recenty on a Vintages release (thank you!!).

All I can say is “Keep up the great work!!!!”. And the quality staff adds to the bonus dining experience.

But as a final comment, can I throw out there, that it would be so much more fun in Ottawa if people didn’t think it was odd for women to eat at the bar (or anyone for that matter) and to say, that I sit at the bar because its fun to be entertained by the server (he’s captive) not to get picked up – not that there’s anything wrong with that. This town just seems a little behind……

Anyhow……..Absinthe – I love you.

2012 Sep 4
I'm thinking that the review got so many thumbs down because she did not talk about the food beyond that she expected to be very disappointed and gouged and was not, and that despite her personal dislikes she was very happy. If you are a regular on here you know that over enthusiasm without balance will get you a thumbs down, especially if you don't talk about the food in terms other than it was great, it was yum etc....and don't at least provide a pic if your descriptive writing skills aren't sharp.

2012 Sep 4
lighten up people, 7 thumbs down because the review was over-enthusiastic??

2012 Sep 3

I know exactly the server you are talking about, he is excellent and really contributes to the overall experience.

2012 Sep 3
Well, if we're rating the food by the number of exclamation points, I'd say that Absinthe has to be rated quite high indeed.

I count 47 in the last post alone!

2012 Sep 3
So, I was challenged to write my first blog. Actually, I’ve received previous suggestions and encouragements to blog, review, start my own reality show (lol); and have been told by a friend, that if she authored a novel about a sassy 30 something – her main character/heroine would be based on me. So evidently, I respond to challenges more than I respond to suggestions – but I digress.

I recently dined at Absinthe in Hintonburg, and the dining experience was amazing to say the least. But let’s start at the beginning… shall we? I’ve heard of Absinthe through friends and acquaintances. It even made the short list of possible dining places a few months ago. However, I have to say, that when I researched the venue and the menu, I wasn’t necessarily left compelled or inspired to check it out. Recently, it made the recommended list again, and that’s where I ended up. And truth be told, my expectations were set to have some fancy, overpriced salad with chicken on top. Well!!! Was I ever wrong!!! Let me tell you!!!

When I first walked in, it seemed like any other pleasant restaurant (remember – overpriced salad with chicken on top); that was until our server Naj introduced himself, and set the tone for an outstanding dining experience, in which him and his colleagues in the kitchen completely delivered on. Naj romantically (in a Foodie kind of way) explained that everything was made in-house, that all of the ingredients are as local as they can get, about his esteem for the chefs, and that they all loved what they did. Naj struck the perfect balance between being attentive, anticipating your next need, and allowing you enjoy your dining experience.
We started with the arugula salad. Again, I was thinking it was just going to be some fancy, overpriced salad. Well, when I took my first bite, it was so good, that I was distracted from the conversation – pay attention… there`s a theme here. I mean, I was with really good company, having a great conversation, and it’s hard to get excited about a salad and or a salad dressing… but the salad was THAT good.

Next came the steak frites, Yukon Frites, Horseradish Aioli, and Allium Braised Green Beans. Well… let me tell you!!!! The steak was seasoned and cooked to perfection!!!! It melted in my mouth. Like I said, I was with great company, but the steak was so good, that it was distracting me from my dinner conversation!!! The main was so good that is was competing with, and making it hard to talk/converse about anything else, and let me tell you… I’m an experienced talker!!! The Yukon frites were the best ‘fries’ I have had yet. I don’t even like horseradish, but couldn’t get enough of theirs. And the green beans – well, while I’ve had lemon/garlic seasoned veggies countless times (and have never really been a fan), I don’t know what kind of magic those cooks did in the back, but they totally rocked it!!!

The way things were going … who could say no to desert? We had the vanilla bean panna cotto with shorbet and raspberries – and it essentially tasted like a big candy!!! In between all of this, our waiter Naj was attentive, complemented our dinner conversation, gave us his take on red wine, and had a great sense of humour. Ladies I think you can all see where I am going with this; If (and only if!!!) this lad is single…. Get on it!!!!!! (Blogging and set ups all in one shot – what can I say – I am sassy and efficient!! No wonder I would be the heroine in her novel!!!)
The food and the dining experience were by far one of the best and memorable to date!! It was so good, that I was reflecting on it days later!!
My only regret from my dining experience was not ordering the Zinfandel with the steak frites, as recommended. And my only complaint I that the food was so good, it was difficult to talk about anything else over dinner. But I will still tell friends, and go back (wink).

Mangia e Salute,
Silvana Sicoli

2012 Jun 4
Oh Absinthe...

This will probably be my go-to restaurant for any sort of higher-end meal. I don't know if I wrote up my visit last year but everything about the previous experience was great.

I returned this evening with a party of four. There was something for everyone and a couple of us took advantage of the table d'hote (3 courses for $40-$48). An amuse bouche of raw duck with green onions and an asianesque sauce was quite enjoyable and a nice, speedily-served start to the evening. Some fennel bread (but not art-is-in) with butter quickly followed.

I had the beet salad which was actually beets 2 ways -- pickled and in a salad with candied walnuts -- and included a deep friend goat cheese fritter. The fritter was really rich and funky but paired with the tangy pickled beets, it was a great time. Someone else had the Korean quail with apple/kimchi slaw and happily devoured it all.

Everyone at the table loved the carrot/kaffir lime soup. I'm sure that it wasn't the healthiest of soups, but it was truly fantastic.

I then had the hangar steak and traded my fries for the duck poutine that another at the table had. The duck poutine was awesome with a good amount of duck confit included in large chunks. The gravy was tasty although the whole dish was on the salty side (no surprise, really). The fries were good too. Delicious.

Sad to say, I was too full to finish much of anything near the end. I ate as much as I could of the poutine and took about half the steak and green beans home. The steak was cooked to my liking although it wasn't outstanding and did benefit from the horseradish aioli. Nice char on the outside though. Others at the table had the burger (which quickly disappeared), the stuffed pork tenderloin with mushrooms (which also vanished), and the duck which got off to a good start but ended when I stole the leftovers -- maybe I'll report back on them tomorrow.

Service was uniformly excellent. The waiter was friendly and efficient and engaged in what seemed like the perfect amount of conversation for a server. I do wonder if the timing between dishes was a little bit on the long side but I figure that if we had been in a rush, we could have seen that changed.

My only gripe was that the pint of Hogsback that I had seemed flat. That's not the end of the world though, so I drank it and followed it up with a great Beau's.

When all's said and done -- I think this place is turning out mostly great food while maintaining high-quality service. I think this place is underrated right now.

2012 Apr 29
After hemming and hawing about giving this place a try, we finally took the plunge and visited last month. What a complete disappointment, actually made worse by the fact that the staff are so damned friendly. I really wanted to like the place but the food and drinks were just dismal.

First off I'm going to pan any place that makes a big deal of talking about locally sourced, organic, whenever possible, yada yada yada, and then the serving staff can't even tell me where they get their beef. Seriously? After gently nudging him towards the kitchen to check with the chef, the server comes back and says with a straight face 'Cargill in Alberta'. Right.

Unfortunately I couldn't find anything else on the menu that interested me so I took a chance on the steak frites and was duly treated to chewy, tough factory beef that tasted like cardboard, even cooked at medium rare. (And yes, I've had hangar steak before, and do enjoy this cut.) I choked back half and then gave up, electing to focus on the frites which were just way too salty and possibly cooked in oil that had seen a few too many moons.

To round out my dismay, I paid $14 for their signature cocktail, a Sazerac. I'm always in search of well made classic cocktails and will keep searching because even after sending back my drink twice, the server just couldn't figure out the proper ratio of simple syrup to straight rye (hint: use a muddler and sugar cube), leaving me with an expensive and cloyingly sweet drink.

But the service... just excellent, on all points. Even the congenial way in which mine let me know that he assumed a woman would want her cocktail on the sweet side. The servers here really do want the customers to be happy with their choices, no hesitation in taking back the drinks or going over the wine list several times, and very, very friendly. Unfortunately however, their job is to serve food, and neither my husband nor I found this a reason to go back, and certainly not with so many very good choices along and off Wellington Street.

2012 Mar 21
I can't think of a better lunch in the area than Absinthe.

The 8oz Benevolent Burger with side salad and fries is absolutely amazing. This is a serious burger. Thick, juicy, buttery, rough & crumbly texture (not overmanipulated and squashed), the bacon cooked perfectly, the sharp cheddar... the icing the cake. Even the bun is excellent and different from the usual supermarket issue.

Washed down with a Beau's draft and I'm a very happy man this afternoon.

The service is very quick and attentive. The space is open and bright with the large sliding windows open on a gorgeous day like this.

The fries are some of the best in town, and always fresh and hot, nothing sitting around.

There's a number of options for lunch, I believe this burger trio is $14 which is right on the money. There's a steak frites option for $15, a duck sandwich and some other choices. The 3-course soup, lamb burger, and dessert was $20 but I passed given the size of the main.

This is giving Fraser a run for its money as the best burger in town. It's bigger, that's for sure!

2012 Mar 9
A little blasé with the Ottawa restaurant scene, we chose to give Absinthe a go for celebrating our birthday with a friend. Apparently, the restaurant has been around since 2003 and the only disappointment is that I had not tried it sooner. Let's say it and get it out of the way, Absinthe is by far one of the best dining experiences I have had in my 15 years in Ottawa.

We were greeted by a server with a smiling face who managed to make an impression within the first few minutes with was possibly the best Kir Royal I have had in this town: tiny bubbles and the perfect amount of cassis. After studying the menu closely, I soon realized I would need help to shortlist the wonderful selection, so I chose to follow the server’s advice on his favourites and came out of the restaurant one year older and much happier than when I walked in.

I started off with the tuna and scallop appetizer. The tuna was a lovely, fresh sushi-grade carpaccio topped with a beautiful scallop tartar. I truly wish I had thought of photographing the food as it was a work of art, both from an aesthetics and taste perspectives. Next, the arugula salad was perfectly seasoned generously sprinkled with roasted pumpkin seeds. The main dish I was recommended was the Duck and Foie Gras duo. While I generally prefer to eat a smaller meal for dinner, the dish was so perfectly composed that nothing was left on the plate. The duck was tender and cooked to perfection, the foie gras was melt-in-your mouth delicious and… warm – which seems to be a rare feat these days to accomplish by many and was served on a scrumptious slice of pain perdu, that I had on its own, it was that nice! I topped off my meal with the warm chocolate fondant dessert which was served with a delicious scoop of decadently rich chocolate ice cream.

This first experience was enough to bring Absinthe into my top 2 favourite restaurants in Ottawa. Yes, I did say top 2. It has to be… because my palate is still thanking me (and so is my friend). The staff was knowledgeable (absolutely do try the wine pairing), thoughtful, friendly, offering a kind service. I intend to be back over and over again and hope to have many more experiences to share – not only with other foodies, but with friends and family.

Too bad for the reviews with a negative connotation, if you appreciate good food and service, know they are absolutely not representative.

Newer · Older
Wine 2


2007 Apr 9
I had the wine paring with my 3 course meal and each selection matched the course perfectly! Excellent selection.


Fries 2



2009 Jun 5
They now serve homemade ice cream in 1L containers to go, looks like they're stepping up to the Gastropub!






Poutine 2


2014 Jan 19
Crummy iPhone photo of the benevolent burger with poutine and Caesar salad sides. For your consideration. :)

2014 Jan 19
Can I go out on a limb and name the poutine at Absinthe best alternative poutine in Ottawa? Ok it's painfully rich, served with mushrooms and bacon, and it's a SIDE to a delicious BURGER!? But it is super satisfying and I think I like it better than my previous favorite alternative poutine, the Murray Street spaetzle poutine. Thoughts??

PS - For reference, my favorite classic poutine is a tie - stand beside the Dom, stand at Bank and Sunnyside, and Mellos, although its been a while since I've had any of the three.

Steak 1




Clams 1



Fondue 1


2014 Jan 8
The next person that goes should ask about the broth option and the reference on their homepage that says "a main course of meat cooked in a hot oil or broth at your table"

2014 Jan 7
Went for the fondue last night, and I must say I was extremely impressed with the quality of the food and service.

Our server was very professional and friendly. We had a few technical difficulties with the fondue burner (it kept going out)but she quickly fixed the issue with a smile and sense of humour.

The cheese fondue was very good and we both loved the flavour of the cheeses used. Beef fondue was tasty but, and as others have commented, I think I would have preferred the broth option. The chocolate fondue was exquisite. The quality of the chocolate was top notch and the fruit was nice and fresh.

Will definitely return to have fondue again and try options from the regular menu

2014 Jan 6
Went for the Monday fondue in late Dec 2013. I'll echo lemontart's post: Great food. Totally enjoyed the experience. Would have liked the broth option for the beef.

Service was excellent, wine pairing was spot on.

Nice to have a reasonably priced fondue option in Ottawa. Was pretty much limitted to Meule and Crquelon over in Gatineau and while i enjoy that place, it's way more family than fine dining.

Would go back, would send others.

2014 Jan 3
A couple of months ago Absinthe introduced fondue nights on Mondays. I think this idea is innovative and a welcome addition to “single night special menus” which are offered at some restaurants around town. I was surprised to find out that their regular menu is also available so if you are not in the mood for fondue you do not have to avoid Absinthe on Mondays.

For $44/person you get:
- Cheese fondue served with baguette, broccoli, apples and pear. I liked this course the best – cheese sauce was very flavourful and the accompaniments were a perfect mixture
- Beef fondue with four (if I remember correctly) sauces. The beef was very tasty and we were appreciative of the tip from one of the waiters about how long to keep the beef in the oil so as not to overcook it. I was disappointed that the cooking liquid was oil and not a broth which also works and is a lot lower in calories (I see on their website that they reference a choice of oil or broth but this was not offered to us)
- Chocolate fondue with a mixture of fruits – enjoyable but a little difficult to finish - unfortunately the use of oil for the beef fondue made me feel very full after the second course so I didn’t enjoy the final course as much as I would have liked

I would try it again in a couple of months but request the broth instead of oil. Also, fondue to me is a winter-type meal so not sure if this is going to work in the summer months.