You get the feeling that Fraser-brother food would be treated with the same exuberant informality whether it’s being served at Fraser Café, at a fancy chef competition, or hanging out at a cottage with friends. The idea of asking beautiful natural ingredients to behave like foot guards on Parliament Hill or transforming them into perfect cubes or pretentious quenelles just wouldn’t fly with the lusty vibe that fills the seats nightly at their popular New Edinburgh restaurant. It came as great news to Fraser fans last year that the talented duo of Ross and Simon Fraser had decided to take over the convenience store next door and transform it into a new kind of social venue, a sibling restaurant called Table 40. On Mondays, when the café is closed, Table 40 opens up into a casual communal dinner party with a single set menu that changes each week. It’s impossible to pin this kitchen down to a theme: prepare for any given three-course family-style menu to riff on cuisines from around the globe. So while the carrot and cumin soup might have you thinking Morocco, the roasted duck and scallion pancakes come along, and it’s hello, Hong Kong. Then suddenly there’s the kick of Korean kimchi sharing a platter with a tangy Thai-inspired mango and papaya salad. Now for dessert — what else? Good old retro-American banana cream pie. Enough to feed the neighbourhood. It doesn’t make any sense, but, wow, is it delicious! When the wagonload of food arrives, you imagine you won’t be able to make a dent, and then the next thing you know, you’ve polished it off. The fact that the same cool space — with its hip mid-century modern chairs and dangling Edison light bulbs — is the set for wedding receptions, pharmaceutical meetings, and a variety of other events the rest of the week is a testament to just how well the Frasers are tapped into the needs of their neighbours and the state of the city’s social behaviour. So here’s to Ottawa’s breaking bread with strangers and helping ourselves to seconds while jumping on one of the hottest trends in dining out right now.
11 Springfield Rd., 613-749-1444, www.frasercafe.ca/table40.