Foie Gras at Restaurant E18teen in Ottawa

Foie Gras at Restaurant E18teen in Ottawa

I have previously mentioned that Restaurant E18teen is one of my favorite restaurants in Ottawa. I have had a couple of unfortunate dining experiences there over the years, their ill-conceived Beef Carpaccio comes to mind, but mostly, everything I have been served there was terrific. In all honesty, the Foe Gras Appetizer I was served there, and pictured above, fell well and truly into the latter category but, alas, I really didn’t like it.

The appetizer appeared on the menu as Hudson Valley Quebec Foie Gras with Brioche. Foie Gras, for the uninitiated is fattened Goose Liver, and it can be quite expensive. There are a lot of horror stories going around about geese being force fed under horrendous conditions to produce the fatty livers, but these, from all I can gather, are largely nonsense. The Geese are overfed, however, and the result is a very pale liver, unctuously rich in fat.

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. I am glad I have done it now, but I probably won’t do it again.

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 additions 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. Finally, there were 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.

Comments, questions or suggestions most welcome!