For Valentine’s Day, Joe took me to Ousia for their set menu. Knowing that good food would suffice in making me happy, he didn’t go wrong. It was our first time trying Ousia, and although their regular menu looked outstanding, I didn’t mind the set menu either! Located off of the main strip of Whyte Avenue, Ousia has become one of my new favorite restaurants, making the list of “must try again ASAP”. “Ousia”, translated from the Greek noun, means “essence” or “substance” although it can be interpreted as “being” or sense of completion in life, as described to us by our server. Seemingly appropriate, as the dinner was outstanding — life now complete!
For the 8pm seating, we were one of the earlier tables to arrive. As soon as we were seated and our drinks arrived, the courses started promptly.
Our amuse bouche was an oyster on the half shell, pickled okra roe, gin granita, and fine herbs. Although delicious and fresh tasting, I would have preferred the “fine herbs” to be a bit finer… I had a mouthful of parsley (I think) with my oyster which didn’t go down as smooth as it should have! Joe’s was a bit more concise and didn’t cause any trouble. Otherwise, beautiful presentation and the gin granita made a great mignonette.
First main course of the night was a shaved radicchio and pea frond salad with grapefruit glyko (a Greek preparation of candied citrus peel), olives, capers, and a tea smoked duck breast carpaccio. The duck breast was beautifully done, although thicker than what I’m use to for carpaccio dishes, and was a substantial part of the dish (it’s below the salad in the photo). The dressing was just right and overall the dish was very well seasoned. My favorite component next to the smoked duck breast was the grapefruit glyko, which reminded me of the Asian version of candied kumquat peels!
As a palate cleanser, the brown butter sorbet was served next. Topped with a candied lemon and sea salt, the flavors were refreshing and definitely served its purpose. The only criticism: needed a bit more time to melt. Because ours was one of the first served, they must have come out fresh from the freezer, making it very hard to scoop out a spoonful. Super cute presentation and great flavors compensates any tiny mishaps though!
The main course was a seared beef short rib, spiced apricot purée, fried leeks, spinach horta, with a deep-fried soft poached egg. Component of the night: deep-fried soft poached egg. Say it out loud slowly and you’ll find yourself perplexed as I was when trying to imagine what that tasted like. It tasted amazing, FYI. In combination with the fried leeks, the apricot purée, and a piece of beef short rib, this was a perfect bite! I could have used without the spinach horta (I’m not the biggest fan of boiled down soft vegetables), although it did serve as a nice bedding for the beef and its juices.
Our last course of the evening was a mastic ouzo panna cotta, topped with fresita and black pepper macerated berries, rosewater cardamom-honey reduction and basil seeds. The panna cotta was silky smooth, and the berries with the reduction were not overly sweet. What looks like a blackberry in the photo is actually the basil seed mixture. So far, I’ve only experienced basil seed in the Asian preparation of desserts, so it was nice to see what it tasted like in it’s pure form: little balls of gelatinous beads. Refreshing!
Within the hour, we finished our 3 course meal (5 if you include the amuse bouche and palate cleanser). At no point did we feel rushed, but I appreciated how quickly the courses arrived. Our server was fantastic, very informative on what was served and very attentive. Can’t wait to return to try other dishes on their regular menu! Thanks Ousia and Chef Seiffert for the night!Ousia
10846 – 82 Ave