In late August I finally had the opportunity to experience Atelier. Yes, experience. Atelier isn’t just a meal – it’s a feast for the senses.
I heard about Atelier shortly after moving to Ottawa. I was starting to learn about the food and wine scene in the city, starting the sommelier program at Algonquin College and trying to experience what was on offer in the city. Atelier piqued my interest but I found it very difficult to find a friend who would be willing to invest both the time and financial resources to make it happen. I watched Atelier from afar, vowing that I would eventually try this gem of the Ottawa food scene.
My expectations were definitely surpassed. The location of Atelier – which is a grey house, without a sign – is on Rochester St, outside of Ottawa’s major culinary neighbourhoods. I was expecting a formal dining experience but the small dining room was cozy, clean and modern. Canadian indie rock softly played to an almost empty dining room (it was the middle of the week), staffed by a personable waitress and Steve Robinson, the sommelier.
I took only a few photos, just enough to generate some interest. The tasting menu is $110, wine pairings are an additional $75. We didn’t do the wine pairings because it was more cost efficient for our group to purchase bottles. I was slightly disappointed as I was looking forward to seeing what Steve would come up with.
The menu is replaced at the rate of one dish per week. With 12 courses on the menu, you could visit the restaurant quarterly and not have a repeat dish. There is a sense of playfulness at Atelier – the dishes have fun names, the server had an irreverent sense of humour – which is much appreciated in an upscale restaurant.
Also, the butter for the bread came in toothpaste tubes. I don’t know how they made this happen, but my mind was blown.
Another exciting part of Atelier was that the 12 course menu included two desserts. No one ever loses with two desserts.
Basically – you really need to try this restaurant. On a date, on a special occasion, just because, whatever. It doesn’t matter. The food was fantastic – they even accommodate dietary restrictions with advance notice – the service was fantastic, the atmosphere was amazing.
And – another highlight – they even let you do a kitchen tour!