Recently, I had the opportunity to enjoy a meal at Signatures in Ottawa. The Cordon Bleu Paris cooking school (as I understand it, the only location in North America) has moved to the former location of Le Cercle Universitaire, once a lavish private club. They have lovingly redecorated this beautiful old mansion, and have opened Signatures, which is a formal French restaurant in the traditional style. Two restauranteur friends were with us, and they agreed that the school's students will benefit immeasurably from the experience of working in a restaurant kitchen while they train. We unfortunately were rushed that evening, but this is a place that deserves to be the evening's event. The food and service were both splendid, from the scallop soup to the perfect rack of lamb, and sea bass en croute. My wife had roast veal, the whole of which was brought to the table and presented prior to her portion being expertly carved and returned under the requisite silver dome, along with the other mains. The wine list was a pleasant surprise, with excellent selections from around the world, and many wines in the $30-$40 range (although plenty of $300 bottles adorned the list as well). So many French restaurants ignore the world's bounty in favour of an all-Gaul wine list, that it was refreshing so see such open minds at work.
We ran out of time for dessert (on our way to Diana Krall at the NAC), but were favoured with plates of petits-fours that were garnished with elaborately beautiful sugar sculptures of flowers.
All in all, a beautiful experience that I am looking forward to repeating, albeit with more time to take it all in.