41 William St Ottawa – (613) 680-3107 – Website
Date of Visit: March 12, 2013
Must Wine Bar is a tiny little establishment that is just a few doors down from Vineyards Wine Bar Bistro which I generally visit when in the capital. I have passed by the place many times, and even perused their posted many a few times, but it was only on my last trip south that I gave it a try. On the whole, I was very happy that I did…
Ambience and Service
Must is a shotgun-narrow little cave of a place that seats about 15 downstairs and not many more on the second floor. When I attended on a Tuesday night, I was the only patron and, as only a few people came later, I was left with the whole of the lower floor to myself. I took a seat by the window overlooking the street and was able to read quietly in the pleasant, comfortable surroundings as I sampled some of the cuisine. The waitress who served me was cheerful and friendly and I would normally comment on how attentive she was but for the fact that, given I was the only patron to look after for much of the time, she was hardly overburdened in having to deal with me.
This wine bar cum bistro advertises itself as offering Tapas, but, though it certainly leans towards ‘small-plate’ delicacies, I thought that most things on offer were a bit too involved to be tapas type dishes. There are 13 appetizers on offer as well as 7 ‘Mains’ and a number of charcuterie meat and cheese selections as well. The wine list is quite extensive and, best of all from my perspective, they offer over 20 different types by the glass.
There are 5 meats and 4 cheeses to choose from (with various combinations allowed) and all come served with Ashton Ale spicy mustard, a Raspberry Confit and a very nice (but much too large) Baguette drizzled with oil and salt. I chose Swiss cheese (which was unfortunately a bit dry) and the following meats:
Red pepper and Dijon Red Deer Sausage – This was really good. It had a slightly crumbly texture but was succulently moist and beautifully seasoned with a light peppery heat. The Ashton Ale Mustard was a bit raw tasting but it went fairly nicely with the sausage and I rated this offering at 5 out of 5.
Brome lake In-house Smoked Duck – Also excellent… This consisted of beautifully rare and tender slices of breast that were wonderfully smoked with a light hand. The mustard complimented it somewhat (while the raspberry confit really didn’t pair well with either meat) but, in truth, nothing was needed with it at all and I also rated it at a 5 out of 5.
Small Plate Selections
Pan seared Scallops with Squash Puree and Crispy Prosciutto – I was a little hesitant about selecting this as I am not a fan of squash generally and I was rather expecting the scallops to be wrapped in prosciutto which always turns out to be too rich for me. As it happened, though, the execution was very well done. The prosciutto was just a crumbled garnish over beautifully seared scallops that were tender and lightly season with just salt and pepper. The puree was also nicely seasoned and, despite my general dislike of squash, I found it delicious. I gave this a 5 out of 5 as well.
Empanadas with Red Yucca, Achiote Oil and Espresso BBQ Pulled Pork – After the previous excellent offerings, this was a disappointment. The empanadas were too large and more like samosas than proper turnovers. They were served on top of coleslaw and then slathered in sauce with the result that they were sodden and unappetizing. The yucca and achiote were not much in evidence really, and the sauce was far too assertive, leaving the pulled pork filling barely tasteable. This was a failure and I could only give it a 2 out of 5.
Attending on a busier night with a few more patrons at least would have made the ambience a little nicer but I still enjoyed my evening here and tasted some lovely dishes. I will definitely visit again and I rate the place at a solid 4 out of 5.