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87 Murray Street
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Vintages Interview with Sylvia Taylor
Ottawa Magazine's Eating & Drinking Guide 2012
Rave reviews for both Domus Café and Taylor's Genuine Food & Wine
Ottawa Magazine May 2012 Review ****
Ottawa Citizen – by Anne DesBrisay
An inspired chef always lets the food shine -
And that it certainly does at Domus Café
Domus is one of the very finest restaurants in this city because of what it does not do; namely, twist ingredients to suit its creative whims or as a vehicle for some chef-ly grandstanding.
Not that chef/owner John Taylor is short on creative whims. But his whims don't overwhelm his ingredients. His cooking is ingredient-driven and it eats accordingly.
And they're the best, received from farms or foragers that meet Mr. Taylor's standards and values. He gives credit to those providers (all over his monthly menu) and then he presents those materials in ways that express their innate goodness their aesthetic pleasure and the time of the year in which they shine. His menus are Taylor-fit (as it were) to show off a season's bounty. You will never find an asparagus soup on a January menu at Domus.
I'll get my one problem with this place out of the way. I find the service at Domus sometimes great and sometimes maddening, depending on who you get. This food requires gracious manners to match. I've had that here. But I've also had offhand, pretentious service with attitude. Something should be done about that.>
To the good stuff: on a January menu, a starter of foie gras (from Mariposa Farms) arrives flash grilled, its surface darkly bronzed, its inside meltingly soft, its flavour deeply satisfying. It rests on slices of grilled brioche. Beside it is a wee, runny quail egg, sunny-side up, a scattering of caramelized pearl onion and a spoon of grated apple, crimson in a cider reduction, sweet and tart and magnificent with the liver. For the "Full Foie'' accept a glass of Stoney Ridge ice wine and damn the price. (The combination of wine and foie is $30.50 and a steal at that.)
Mushroom risotto is splendid here – made with all the care, thought and attention to complementary savours and textures the dish demands. Purple basil, shaved truffles, radish sprouts and shards of sharp Parmesan crown the mound of moist rice.
Next we were fed faultless steak-frites. Quality meat, properly aged, grilled right, seasoned right, served with grilled portobellini mushrooms, a sticky reduction of beef and mushroom I, a mound of big, fat fries and a homemade mayonnaise livened with horseradish. When you're in the mood, it doesn't get much better.
Skate was the fish selection, soft and buttery, if a little too intensely salted. It came with whole green onions fried in a tempura batter, red jacket potatoes and spinach.
A Domus lunch began with an intensely flavoured wild and tame mushroom soup with goat cheese and radish cress and a swirl of infant canola oil. A great pile of nutty arugula arrived dotted with toasted hazelnuts, balsamic-sweetened red onion strings and many fat chunks of goat feta. It was dressed with a sharp and sweet balsamic vinaigrette pungent with grainy mustard.
These were followed by a stew of white beans, chunks of beef shank, good smoky bacon and vegetables – all braised with long, tender, attention and crowned with fried focaccia croutons and thin slices of pungent Parmesan. And then Ontario quail, bronzed and succulent, resting on Asian flavours – a miso ( bean paste) and sesame treated broth with braised Asian greens, rice noodles and shiitake mushrooms.
Favourite Domus desserts include a textbook crème brûlée dotted with the black specks of the infused vanilla bean and a comforting warm "stew" of wintery fruits served with a moist spice cake filled with crème fraîche. As you'd expect, given Mr. Taylor's values, the bulk of Domus' extensive wine list is comprised of Canadian bottles, with lots of interesting choices by the glass or half-litre.
With a mid-range bottle, expect to spend $130 for two to dine at Domus on food worth every loonie.
#1 2009 Ottawa City Magazine Top Ten Best Restaurants in Ottawa
Chris Knights has rated John Taylor at Domus Cafe number #1 for 2009-2010. The criteria was restaurants that "really really care about the food". We are pround of our team and hope you will join us.
Link will be arriving soon.
The Ottawa Sun – October 2003 – by Michael Botner
Canada produces great food and wine. “Celebrating the wonderful bounty of our land is what Thanksgiving is all about” says John Taylor.
He and his wife Sylvia run Domus Cafe, a small, casual, quality-focused restaurant on Murray St. in the By-ward Market quarter, dedicated to promoting Canadian regional seasonal cuisine.
“As the chef at Domus Cafe, my mission is to find those unique Canadian-grown products that I believe are some of the best in the world,” John says.
“This is the easiest time of the year to stick to locally grown produce,” he says. “There are many traditional farmers with stalls in the market here and on Parkdale Ave., and they are brimming with seasonal vegetables like squash, Asian greens, beans, frisee, chicories, corn, tomatoes, as well as cauliflower and broccoli. I go there every morning before setting our daily menu.”
Whenever possible, Taylor searches out farmers and producers that run certified organic and environmentally sustainable operations and programs.
“For example, my fall harvest menu embraces colourful organic Heirloom tomatoes and potatoes from Bryson Farms; Asian greens and organic baby green, along with frisee, from Orient Farms; pattypans and later, winter squashes, from Ken Rubins’ farm; and soft Yellowfoot chanterelle mushrooms from Christophe,” he says.
To complement fine Canadian cuisine, serving Ontario's own VQA (Vintners Quality Alliance) wines is a must.
Having won the prestigious RBC Financial Group Award for Best Ontario VQA wine list at the 2003 Niagara Wine Festival, Domus Café’s wine list presents an impressive selection of Ontario's top wines.
“The percentage of Ontario wine sold by the glass is 80%,” says Sylvia, co-owner of Domus Cafe and a graduate of the Algonquin sommelier program.
“Because we have maintained close ties with several Canadian winemakers we have wines not available elsewhere, including many rare jewels of Niagara,” she says. “The selection changes regularly to reflect availability of rare and interesting stocks.”
Ottawa Plus Review
"The best place to experience Canadian regional cuisine in Ottawa? The answer comes in the form of Domus Café."
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