The corner of Beechwood and Charlevoix has seen some solid restaurants come and go, including the Beechwood Gastropub and Farbs Kitchen. The newest arrival is Jasper, a venture from André Schad (owner of Tavern on the Hill) and chef Gabe Roberge, whose resumé includes stints at Tavern on the Hill, El Camino, Oz Kafe, and Sidedoor.
The interior changes from previous incarnations are mostly decorative. Eclectic chandeliers offer warm light and a sense of occasion. The upholstered banquette absorbs lots of sound — making it a restaurant with a happy, not deafening, vibe.
Start with a craft cocktail. The “Smoke ’em if you got ’em” is a playful twist on a margarita, with tequila, mango, and a dash of orange liqueur, which is made in-house. The rim is coated with black smoky salt. It’s a very nice companion for sitting back and considering the menu.
Like many restaurants, Jasper offers a beet salad on its familiar bed of arugula and other greens. But here, the beets come with round marbles of apple that have been compressed with sherry and frozen. We also find crunchy, salty chips of microplaned sunchokes and a candied-seed garnish. The dressing is light and lemony. These creative touches inject this beet salad with personality and flavour.
Four small slices of smoked duck from Mariposa Farms come with an assortment of coulis and emulsified greens plus a delicate garlic foam and crispy fried leeks. It’s a treat for the eyes as much as for the palate.
For mains, we love the boars’ ribs — they’re smoky and not overly sauced or seasoned. The meat falls off the bones in delightful flakes. It’s a dish of restraint with a beautiful presentation of tented ribs over mashed potato, carrots, and microgreens.
Less of a success is the stuffed shell pasta. The plate offers five large ravioli: three are stuffed with mushroom and tarragon, the other two with goat cheese. Bits of flavours — tomato jelly, beet, and carrot foams — dot the edge of the bowl. But the pasta is slightly underdone and too far away from its flavour enhancers to allow for much mingling.
For dessert, the poached pear is also undercooked, but it’s tasty, with candied cashew on top. The simple chocolate cake is flavoured with almonds and a ring of salted honey for a magical dessert.
We like the wine list because it’s not very long and offers lots of bottles in the $40-to-$60 range. Among the many other things to like is the fact that Jasper’s kitchen is open until 1 a.m.
With an inventive kitchen that features local producers, Jasper is making all the right moves as it settles into the neighbourhood.
18 Beechwood Ave., jasperottawa.ca
Mains $16–$49. Open every day for dinner until 1 a.m., Wednesday to Friday for lunch, and weekends for brunch.