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Ottawa area -- Par-fyum -- report (long)

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Ottawa area -- Par-fyum -- report (long)

marno | Feb 10, 2006 10:17 AM

Okay, so this report is loooong overdue. My apologies.

We dined at Par-fyum on New Year's Eve. It was a set menu, and a set seating time, so I realize this isn't the best way to truly assess what a restaurant has to offer. Nonetheless...

Decor was very nice. Interesting and different. Extremely modern, with large glass globes hanging from the ceiling. A large, open, airy space, which was surprising, as from the outside it just looks like a regular storefront. I found the lighting level (my personal pet peeve -- bright lighting) to be just right. I liked that the decor was modern and "hip", but still comfortable. We sat in the upper area and our table was a good 5 ft. from the next table, so we did not feel crowded at all. On the other hand, it is definitely not a "cozy" place.

A DJ was spinning throughout the latter half of our meal which I understand is the norm on weekend nights. Also, there was a bit of a bar scene that was picking up, which I understand is also the case on ordinary weekends (not just NYE). So the restaurant was definitely buzzing.

On to the food. Par-fyum has an open kitchen, which although we were a bit far from the action, I still enjoyed watching the chefs preparing everything. Seemed surprisingly orderly, and very clean (as all open kitchens must be), considering the volume of people dining. To start, the set menu allowed a choice of oxtail consomme with a scallion crepe, or a goat cheese/arugula/grapefruit/pine nut salad. I tasted both, and both were excellent, fresh, and well-presented. For the second course, one could choose lobster ravioli in a lobster bisque, or 5-spice duck carpaccio. We all had the lobster option, so I can't comment on the duck. The ravioli was clearly house-made, and had a HUGE chunk of lobster in the middle, which was pleasantly surprising. The bisque surrounding it was fantastic -- thick and rich enough to stand up to the ravioli, but not so strongly flavoured as to overpower it. Again, nice presentation. For the main, the options were filet mignon with pinot noir sauce, chicken supreme with a lemon creme sauce, or seared yellowfin tuna with cilantro pesto. I tried both the filet and the tuna. The tuna was very light and fresh tasting, similar to spa cuisine. I like this, but my boyfriend found it way too light and subtle for his tastes. The filets were all perfectly cooked to order, the pinot noir sauce was a rather standard red wine reduction, and the vegetable (grilled portobello and pearl onion) and potato it was served on was very tasty. Dessert was a truffle layer mousse terrine or baked alaska. The mousse terrine was unbelievable... an extremely dense, rich, high-quality chocolate taste. I loved it. I was hesitant about the baked alaska, and was expecting the standard 1970's-style retro version, but instead it was updated and served on a crispy wafer and instead of vanilla ice cream was made with some kind of lighter, tropical tasting sorbet (perhaps passionfruit?). It was also very tasty.

To drink, we had a nice bottle of Australian cabernet (I can't recall the label). I did notice that the wine list was somewhat short, though well-selected, and also a bit pricey -- fairly priced for what was offered, but no bargain bottles to be found.

Service was extremely friendly and efficient. I was nervous at first, as our server was a young female around 20-23, and I thought she might be inexperienced. But she was very sweet and accomodating, without missing a beat.

All in all a very good experience. I recommend trying it out. I know I am looking forward to returning to try the full menu.

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