Dinner (at eight) at E18teen

I first reviewed the Ottawa restaurant, E18teen, some six or seven years ago and I have, a number of times, written about excellent dishes I have had there since then. Recently, however, I visited for dinner and had an experience that was not as good as usual. One dish I just happened not to like all that much, but another one, unusually for E18teen, was just not that well executed…

PEI Crab Cake – I became rather interested with this particular seafood dish a while ago and have been trying it at many different places to try and get some understanding of the scope of different variations available. I was very much looking to see how E18teen approached the basic idea but, I have to say, I was not especially impressed.

The menu described it as being served with ‘celery dill aioli and bitter greens’, but, unfortunately, only the aioli turned out to be any good. The sauce was very nicely made and delicate, and it was well conceived as an accompaniment for crab. The greens, in contrast, while as bitter as advertised, were actually rank enough to the point of being acrid. Indeed, two forkfuls were enough for me and I did not finish it.

As for the crab cake itself, it was certainly edible but had little else to commend it. The crab was very finely minced and had a ‘pasty’ texture, while the coating was far too thick and was cooked to the point of being overdone and hard. This was surprising, really… Crab-cakes can be tricky, and are a good test of the skill of a seafood cook, but I very much expected a place like E18teen to have done a much better job. Perhaps it takes a proper East Coast restaurant (like Salty’s in Halifax) to do them right, or, possibly (one hopes), the chef at E18teen was temporarily having a bad night…

 

Hudson Valley Quebec Foie Gras with Brioche – Now, I have never had Foie Gras before, and I was a little hesitant to try it as I am not a huge fan of liver, or liver based pâtés and sausages, but I very much like trying things I have not had before and I thought it was time I crossed this off my bucket list…

Now the first thing I have to say is that the plating job here was very impressive. The liver was a small rectangle, seared with a blow-torch, placed on top of a small circle of brioche, and these were centered on a swath of wonderful colors and textural additions. My server explained them all to me and, as best as I can recall, these consisted of a bed of crushed hazelnuts for the brioche, two tiny cinnamon meringues, squares of jelly made from sweet Moscato wine, some pieces of strawberry and pear, and, finally a couple of other puree’s and a ‘dust’ the nature of which I can no longer recall. It is a shame I wasn’t able to record everything as it was described for me in loving detail, but I think you can see that the visual appeal of the design is undeniable.

As for the Foie Gras? Well… unfortunately, I gave it my best shot (and I did eat it all), but the truth is that I just did not like it at all. I can usually manage a pâté or spread that has liver in it but, here, the taste was exceedingly strong and very much ‘in-your-face’. It seemed to be very nicely prepared, as far as my limited experience with the delicacy allows me to judge, but even when sampling the liver with various combinations of the accompaniments, I was unable to enjoy. Pity, given it was such a pretty dish…

Anyway, nothing about the meal… even the poor job on the Crab Cakes… has ruined E18teen for me. I have had too many excellent meals there to be discouraged and I will almost certainly visit again on my next trip to the city….

 

 

2 Comments

  1. I’ve only eaten Foie Gras once. A friend bought me a tin that had been imported from France. The first taste I was a little hesitant but it take long for me to realise just how much I could come to like it. I looked up on-line how much it is to buy and I haven’t tried it since.

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