I know. It’s been a while. I was inspired to write on this food blog again after trying a few new restaurants in Ottawa the past couple weeks. It all started with Aaron taking me to Fairouz for my birthday. It is #46 on Canada’s 100 best 2017, the most highly ranked of all Ottawa restaurants on that list. It was also quite appropriate to try some Middle Eastern food as I have been following Mark Wiens closely on his Israel adventures lately. I was excited!
Fairouz is located in a heritage house on Somerset alongside many interesting restaurants, which we have yet to try. The setting was very unique with what looked like very thoughtful design and decor. They even have a patio for the summer months!
The drinks menu was good with a nice selection of wine and beer at a reasonable price. For those who would like to try something different, try the arak. This Levantine liquor is poured on top of water and ice, which changes it from clear to translucent. It is heavily anise-flavoured, so it’s not for everyone (myself included).
Now for the best part: the food. Plates are meant to be shared here, which works well for us since that is what we usually do anyway.
For starters, we had the muhammara, halloumi and pidé as suggested. The muhammara is a cashew and pomegranate dip served with a side of puffy pita bread. I was skeptical of pomegranate in my dip at first but it added a burst of sweetness and freshness to the creaminess of the cashew nut.
The halloumi was truly mind blowing. For those who a light, firm cheese baked to perfection, this is the dish for you. Not only did it look too pretty to eat (with flower pedals and all), the colourful accompaniments paired so well with the taste of the cheese. I particularly liked the peach slices (which was apparently from our server’s hometown), again, adding some sweetness to the dish. Dip this all in the lemon cream dollops and your tastebuds will thank you.
We couldn’t get enough of cheese, so we ordered the pidé, which is a cheese-stuffed flatbread with leeks and spinach. Again, I was impressed by how all the flavoured worked so well together.
For our main, it was suggested we order the meat plate. Unfortunately, I am not a huge lamb fan and the plate would have been very lamb heavy, so we passed and ordered the cornish hen and the beef kebab instead. The beef was served in a thick, tasty sauce alongside some bell peppers, onions and nicely-seasoned pitas. We decided to make a little wrap with all our ingredients, which was quite tasty with a hint of sourness. Think a simple, yet more polished fajita. Please correct me if this is not the right way to be eating this. My only critique would be that the beef’s texture was a little on the tougher side.
The hen was nicely spiced served on top of pickled fruits and vegetables. I quite liked the pickled cucumber but was not a big fan of the pickled dry peach (?). The hen itself was flavourful and juicy.
For dessert, we had the tahini ice cream bar, drizzled with salted caramel along with a side of – get this – popcorn. Yet, who would have thought that popcorn and ice-cream can actually go well together. Aaron quite enjoyed this dessert, but as someone who does not like tahini, I felt this was pretty good but not my favourite.
The service was superb. Our server gave excellent recommendations for food choices and offered to change up the menu for me even though they don’t usually do substitutions. They also remembered it was my birthday from the booking and wished me happy birthday a few times.
This is definitely a one-of-a-kind restaurant in Ottawa that I would keep in mind and come back for a special occasion. They also hold special “Mezze” nights every Sunday and Monday with a small-bites menu – something I would like to try in the future!
For more information: https://www.fairouz.ca/
Photo credit: Aaron.