54 York Street, Ottawa, (613) 241-3474 – Website
Date of Visit: March 23, 2012
I have visited the Fish Market Restaurant some half a dozen times over the last 9 or 10 years. I have had a few good meals there, but also a couple that were not so good. This most recent visit was one of the better experiences…
Ambience and Service
I arrived at the restaurant at about 6pm. It was quite empty at first but quickly began to fill up. The interior is very nice and comfortable with lots of wood and nautical trimmings. It is decorated much like many of the seafood restaurants one finds in coastal resorts but it manages to avoid the tackiness of some of them. I would have liked to have had a table that had a better view but the place was hitting the early dinner busy time and I was only one person so I was relegated to a small table off at the very back near the kitchen.
I was served, that evening by a pleasant young lady was efficient and personable but who had the annoying quality of being just a little *too* efficient. Repeatedly, she kept asking if I was ready to order even while I was still obviously reading the menu and had explicitly indicated that I would be taking my time. It is a habit I find very irritating in restaurants as it always makes me feel uncomfortably rushed. Beyond that, though, here service was fine and I still tipped accordingly.
While I was perusing the drinks menu, the waitress brought me the complimentary appetizer you see above. It consisted of a dinner roll with a side dish of oil seasoned with chopped sweet peppers and olives. It was very pretty, and quite tasty, but the peppers could have done with being infused a bit longer.
Malpeque Oysters: These were presented very nicely but were not as good as some Malpeques I ate the previous night at Lapointe’s Restaurant. In my review of that dinner, I mentioned that Malpeques seem to be enjoying a decent season this year but these ones, possibly because they were quite a bit larger, were less succulent and not nearly as sweet. One was actually bad and, while I am sure that the restaurant would have been happy to replace it, I didn’t bother asking for one, as they really weren’t worth it. I gave them an oyster rating of only 3 out of 5.
Bouillabaisse: This is described in the menu as ‘A fresh fish & lobster stock with saffron, brimming with fresh Nova Scotia lobster meat, queen crab legs, succulent tiger shrimp, sea scallops, calamari, smoked & fresh fish and mussels with potatoes & fresh vegetables’. When it arrived though, it was clearly more of a Cioppino than a proper Bouillabaisse. There was no saffron color, nor taste for that matter, and the broth was tomato based, which is really not very traditional. Despite that, however, it was actually very good and the soup component, though heavy on tomato, managed to escape being overly acidic and had a nice ‘marine’ flavor. The vegetables, beyond the potatoes, consisted of tomato, celery, and something else that I tentatively identified as fennel. All the seafood was very nicely cooked, including the lobster, which consisted of a single claw and some smaller chunks. That was not a lot of lobster, but really no less than I would have expected given the price of the dish. Some years ago, I ate a Bouillabaisse here that was a little more traditional and was obviously based on a saffron flavored fish broth. It was very good but this one, even though it was not that close to a traditional Bouillabaisse, was very enjoyable and I rated it at 4 out of 5 stars.
Caliterra Sauvignon Blanc from Chile: This was rather sharp with apple and lemon notes along with a faint trace of fennel. It was quite flat, had a bit of a metallic aftertaste and was not at all well rounded. I rated it as only a 1 out of 5
Caliterra Cabernet Sauvignon from Chile: This selection had a lovely warm bouquet with spicy peppery notes. The body was very nice and velvety with blackcurrant and cherry notes along with a hint of chocolate. Unfortunately it was quite heavy on the tannins and these dominated near the end for a very astringent finish. Rating: 3 out of 5
Despite making me feel a little rushed, the service was generally very good and the surroundings pleasant. The oysters I had for my first course were not especially enjoyable (though this was not the fault of the restaurant), but the Bouillabaisse I had was excellent. I had a very pleasant dining experience on the whole.