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I had a friend coming into town who had done the CNE course with me, and knew exactly where I wanted to take him. I’ve been wanting to try this restaurant forever (since I watched the TV show on their crazy restaurant adventure), and who better to enjoy it with than a fellow culinary nutrition expert.
The Zen Kitchen is a gourmet vegan restaurant in Ottawa, located just outside of Chinatown on Somerset St. Ottawa is a little behind in the holistic nutrition movement, so it is nice that we have at least one vegan restaurant to go to (a raw one will be opening very soon if I have anything to do with it!). We got there early and were the first ones in the restaurant for dinner, but it filled up quite quickly. So I definitely suggest making a reservation! We quickly skimmed the menu, but Dominic and I are total foodies who are up for anything. So the chef’s tasting course it was! We had 5 delicious courses and got the wine pairing to go with; a beautiful, smooth Australian Red. The owner Dave was great, checking up on us and getting our feedback with each course. We felt like quite the vegan food connoisseurs!
First was the amuse-bouche, a vegan cream cheese filled endive leaf. To be honest, neither of us are fans of vegan cream cheese. Remember the flexi rule, just because it’s vegan does not make it good for you! The endive did have a nice crunch and it looked pretty so they get points for that.
Next was a salad, with carrots, dates and cara cara oranges. The sweetness of the dates went well with the saltiness of the dressing; really refreshing. We had never heard of cara cara oranges before. They look like mini grapefruits with a sweet, but tangy zing. You learn something new everyday!
Next up was a take on french onion soup. I forgot to take a picture of this one before I dug in, but it had caramelized onions in a dark, rich broth with a cute little crostini on top. Nothing really compares to real french onion soup, but they did a nice job trying.
The main was both of our favorites. They made us qunioa and crumbled smoked tempeh filled cabbage rolls in a tomato sauce, with a side of homemade potato perogies with roasted pearl onions and a cashew sour cream. My mouth is watering just thinking about it again. I think I am going to make crumbled tempeh everyday for the rest of my life now…
Of course we were absolutely stuffed by the end of this course, but there is always room for dessert right?! We had pecan pie with coconut ice cream, dragon fruit, and mint syrup. Probably the best pecan pie I have ever had, but would have been that much better if they had served it warm. Maybe next time?
Overall it was a great experience, with even greater company. I definitely recommend it to all vegans, veggies, flexis, and foodies alike. It’s a place for anyone who is in the Ottawa area and wants a yummy plant-based meal with a fancy, gourmet twist. Thanks again Dominic!