Eating & Drinking

DesBrisay Dines: Two Six {Ate}

The last time I went morel hunting I was with Ottawa’s brilliant forager, the octogenarian Ivan Roy. We searched for hours, sniffing around decaying apple trees and in disturbed bits of ground, revisiting secret spots where Ivan had found morels in the past, cursing pine cones and their look-a-like edges (to my eyes, not Ivan’s).


After three hours, we had not found one of those elusive buggers. It had been a lovely morning, but still, we were dejected, returning to the lot where we’d left the car empty handed. And there, five feet from the Subaru, right where the gravel met a well needled rutt in the ground, was a mushroom! Three morels. Then four. Then eight, twelve. We laughed and cried, and ate very well that night, a simple sauté of morels in butter with herbs, topped with a poached egg.

Two Six {Ate}’s charcuterie board. Photo: Anne DesBrisay

I was taken back to that parking lot treasure at a May dinner on Preston Street. I was revisiting Two Six {Ate}, the little three-year-old charmer run by chef Steve Harris and his partner Emily Lenzi.

One of the day’s special was a sauté of morels with cavatelli and pickled ramps, with dollops of pesto and a sunnyside-up egg. It was a splendid plate of spring, the pasta hand rolled and perfectly cooked, and the egg — once pierced — enriched everything it touched.

There were other treats: a beet salad layered with fresh cheese, and scattered with pickled hazelnuts and the crunch of boondi (those small, crisp balls of chickpea flour), and a board of the house-made charcuterie and Quebec cheese, notable for its copa and well flavoured pear-studded poultry terrine. A smoked pork chop had admirable juiciness and smack, set in a fresh tomato sauce.

Two Six {Ate}’s pork with freshly-made tomato sauce. Photo: Anne DesBrisay

I hadn’t returned to Two Six {Ate} since it opened in 2013, and was instantly pleased to be back. Pleased, too, with my cocktail — another spring charmer. It featured Buchipop, the fizzy fermented tea (kombucha) crafted by Ottawa chef and bee keeper Patricia Larkin, in a cocktail mixed with rum and lime juice, and filled in with chopped apple and cilantro. They call it Dr. Greenthumb.

Which is helpful in hunting mushrooms. Morels and Buchipop. Quite the combination.

Two Six {Ate}, 268 Preston St., 613-695-2800
Open wednesday to monday, 4 p.m. to 2 a.m.