Special occasion, Tapas

Top Chef

Update: This restaurant has permanently closed.

To celebrate the legal union of 2 self-proclaimed foodies, we embarked on a gluttonous adventure this weekend. To start things off, Aaron had reservations at Navarra – his favourite restaurant in Ottawa. Apparently, the chef, Rene Rodriguez, won Top Chef Canada Season 4. No big deal. Narvarra is a Spanish/Latin America inspired contemporary restaurant. Its menu consisted of various tapas, with varying amount of spice. It provides an intimate setting and is located on Murray St. – which I believe is THE foodie street of Ottawa’s Byward market.

First things first, drinks. Although not officially on their menu, I always get their red sangria here. It is full of fruity flavours, almost comparable to the ones I’ve had in Spain. Aaron had the Pascual Toso Reserve Malbec, a great medium to full bodied red, which paired nicely with all the dishes we had that night.

Next, our choice of tapas. After some deliberation and discussion with the server regarding their most popular dishes, our menu for the night consisted of the Pulpo Gallego (confit octopus – WHAT?), Chimichurri Mushrooms, Carbonara Pasta, and Seared Foie Gras. Firstly, I was very impressed by the knowledge and enthusiasm of the server regarding their menu choices. Just hearing her talk about the preparation of the pork cheeks made me appreciate the thought that went into this dish. After a few more (maybe more than a few) sips of wine/sangria and some reflection upon our previous dates at this restaurant, our first dish arrived – the Pulpo Gallego. Not only was the presentation spot on, the taste was amazing. The yam, perfectly cooked with a blast of flavours. The chorizo, which can never disappoint because chorizo is chorizo. The octopus was also delicious but I’d hate to say that the highlight of the dish is probably not the octopus in Aaron and my opinion (but rather the yam). We also learned that confit is a process of “preserving” where an ingredient (in this case the octopus) is covered with fat or syrup, then slowly cooked. Next, the Chimichurri mushrooms did not fail to disappoint. As it was perfectly paired with crumbled queso fresco, pickled sunchokes and cilantro. The next dish – Carbonara Pasta was definitely the front runner of the night for me and it even contained their famous pork cheeks. Each penne was a tasty package of deliciousness. They served the foie gras last and it was unlike any other foie gras I’ve had in the past. It was served with a cocoa blini (think brownie) and a beet curd (frozen beet tasting like fluffy beet goodness).

As the foie gras was supposed to serve as a “dessert” and because we were stuffed, it was, unfortunately, time to bid farewell to our culinary evening. This has probably been the best meal we’ve had in a while, enough to inspire me to write this food blog post after a bit of a hiatus from this blog. We’ve even considered having a standing reservation every Monday to take advantage of their “industry night” special – $15 tapas!

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