Anne DesBrisay is the restaurant critic for Ottawa Magazine. She has been writing about food and restaurants in Ottawa-Gatineau for 25 years and is the author of three bestselling books on dining out. She is head judge for Gold Medal Plates and a member of the judging panel at the Canadian Culinary Championships.
Two forks up for two lunch dishes at the new Beechwood Gastropub. I plan to do a proper review of the place in due course, but this first sortie was encouraging. It was a Friday, which might explain the crowd, but the place was packed and the feeling merry.
The look hasn’t changed much since it was Farb’s Kitchen, other than a wall that’s been boarded up with ye-ole barn beams, and a brush that’s coated another wall with teal.
Two dishes to praise: a comfort sandwich, well executed, and a yummy bowl of gnocchi. The Cubana — a classic sandwich, reworked — was a ciabatta loaf sliced and stuffed with fine ham and a slice of melty Jacobsons cheddar, but also with thin slices of the house porchetta, the right amount of fat drooping out, and a smear of a crunchy pickle-mustard that delivered excellent smack. It came with fine fries, an aioli for dunking, and a little salad dressed with a (too-sweet … for me) tarragon vinaigrette.
The poached-then-fried gnocchi were crusty without and softly-perfect within. You had to pass through a pile of wilted kale and shaved parmesan to find them, but well worth the effort. Bathed in a luscious lemon emulsion, with roasted cauliflower adding sweet-earthy flavour and with the warm, softened kale tasting happily of butter and onions, this was a treat of a dish.
Donuts to end. Cause it’s Christmas, and a girl can only have so much shortbread.
18 Beechwood Avenue, 613-744-6509