Going into this place, I had high hopes. I’d been told the food was a mix of Mexican and seafood. I would add to that description ‘southern comfort food’. And I love Mexican and southern comfort food…not usually a fan of seafood though. Overall, the menu is actually quite diverse, with everything from oysters, to burgers, to fried chicken. And, despite the ‘raw bar’ title, some of you will be delighted to know that there is also cooked seafood.
After lengthy deliberations with myself, and the tragic revelation from the waitress that the kitchen had run out of pecan crusted mahi-mahi (an exception to my rule alluded to above), I finally settled on the $18 half rack of baby back ribs. And I had some major mixed feelings. The dish itself sounded amazing on the menu. It came with a side of fries and slaw and the ribs were glazed with a honey and peaches bbq sauce. My mouth is watering just thinking about it!
Yet, when all was said and done, I was left somewhat disappointed. On the plus side, the honey and peach glaze was great. I probably could have just eaten a bowl of that stuff alone. It was the right amount of sweet, with chunks of fruit and a nice spice to it. Actually, quite a bit of spice. Like, nose-runny spice. But if you can handle it, it’s well worth a try.
However, the ribs themselves let me down. They were cooked perfectly, so fall-off-the-bone tender. Yet, I found the flavour of the meat itself underwhelming. Don’t get me wrong, there does seem to be plenty of skill back in that kitchen. But, even though the glaze was delicious, it didn’t really come together with the ribs. Most of the bites I took contained primarily meat and not a lot of glaze because the chunks of fruit keep falling off. I’m used to ribs that soak up more flavour and become “one with the sauce”.
Unfortunately, that wasn’t the only letdown. My girlfriend ordered the braised beef enchiladas and they were pretty terrible. My ribs were far superior to these enchiladas. The ends of the tortillas were overcooked and hard, and the beef was awfully dry. It was like someone left them under a heat lamp a little too long. And no, this isn’t just my girlfriend’s opinion. This is me talking. I had a bite.
Now, this is a new place. They are going to have growing pains. I can say that I’ve heard anecdotally from others that the food is pretty good. In fact, the very next day, my girlfriend went back and enjoyed a very nice brunch. And apparently the head chef is Louis Charest, Rideau Hall’s executive chef *… So, I hesitate to count this place out completely.
Because the ribs were cooked so well and the honey and peach glaze was quite tasty, I would be willing to give this place another shot. Plus, someone there does have a great sense of humour. These were in the mens’ bathroom:
* See Ottawa Citizen review by Peter Hum