Beef Carpaccio at Restaurant E18teen in Ottawa
Well, I have start out by saying that Restaurant E18teen is one of my favorite restaurants in Ottawa. The ambience is great, the service always top-notch, and the dishes I have been served have all been pretty much excellent. Occasionally, though, every good restaurant is going to produce a ‘clanger’ or two, and the Beef Carpaccio interpretation I had on my last visit sadly fell into that category.
The menu described the selection as follows:
Smoked oyster emulsion, fried caper, pickled shallot, garnished with baby shiso leaf
Well … to unpack this, component by component, I can say that the beef was just fine. It wasn’t seared at all, which you get sometimes, with Carpaccio in some places, but was raw, as is traditional, and was both tasty and tender. The meat was sliced well and laid out nicely, which made this pretty good so far a ‘Carpaccio’ dish goes, but, from there, unfortunately, things started to go downhill.
The Pickled Shallot was nice, and added a bit of tang to the overall effect and the fried Capers had a nice smoky taste. The smoked oyster aioli, however, just did not work. I though the idea of making a mayo type emulsion using the oil from smoked oysters was a truly inspired idea, but the pairing here was a bit unfortunate. Somewhere else, perhaps, but not for this dish …
The real mistake was the olive oil. In other Carpaccio dishes, there is almost always a drizzle of olive oil over the beef slices but here, the drizzle became a river … everything was basically swimming in the stuff so that all the delicate flavors were overwhelmed and the textures largely lost in an unctuous mess. It was a complete shame, really.
Sorry E18teen. I will be back, but this one was not a winner …