Many, if not all, of the reviews of Fauna have focused tirelessly on the restaurant’s delayed launch, than of what it actually brings to the culinary table. The definition above is about as far as I’ll go into the background of “Fauna”. Today, we are talking food and all of the other goodies to be found at the new Ottawa eatery. If you want to learn more about how Fauna came to be (a long and harrowing tale) read this.
So, lets talk about the grub. “Deliciously different”comes to mind.
Though a ‘teenth of their menu offers the typical, Ottawa-menu fare (like a slab of tuna, served rare with Asian-inspired accouterments or the beet and creamy cheese combo that rooted every menu in the city last year) there are at least a few interesting twists and turns that make this menu stand out from the rest.
The bill of fare consists of very small plates, anywhere between three or four plates per person is recommended for complete gratification. Among the four plates that I sampled, two were particularly distinguished and delectable.
Pictured below as course #3 and course #4, respectively the arancini and boar belly are both decadent and original. The arancini is a mouthwatering, knock-out – something to win awards with. Layers of pureed jalapeno combat the richness of melted cheese and deep-fried, creamy rice and is accompanied with a smoked tomato and bacon infused creme fraiche. Drooling, yet?
The boar belly (how very “fauna” of them) is gamey, of the earth and undeniably more-ish. The boar is paired with tender fingerling potatoes, black kale and a sweet, yet slightly tart gastrique.
The libations are also outstanding. Sweet and savoury creations are a guarantee on the artistically crafted cocktail list. A must try is the “Blue Sea”- a seamless combination of black pepper, cucumber, gin and grapefruit. The wine list is impressive too, created by one of Ottawa’s younger sommelier starlets, Alex McMahon. The list boasts eclectic, funky, fresh wines – not unlike Missy Elliot in the early 2000’s. A few to note were the Grange’s Gamay (one of my personal favourites from Prince Edward County), Gaia’s Agioritiko (a light, Greek red) and a collection of peculiar whites from all over the place.
Definitely worth a visit and an absolute must if you’re looking for a couple of kick- ass small plates and a quirky cocktail (or two).