Absinthe: An Intimate Warm Restaurant with Fantastic Food!

By: Melanie Lloyd

Over a decade ago, while living in Hintonburg, Absinthe was one my favourite date spots. This was prior to having kids and having to plan for a sitter.

Back then, Absinthe was in a garage converted into a restaurant on Holland. It was small and cozy with limited seating, friendly service, and amazing food. After a great meal with a bottle of wine or two, we’d hobble back home, just a short walking distance away.

Fast-forward to today, Absinthe in now on Wellington. It seats many more people but the dim lights and warm atmosphere still captures a cozy romantic feeling.

The service was fantastic. Our server was charming, friendly, and knowledgeable. He had in-depth knowledge of food and wine without being snooty.

As an appetizer, our table shared smoked and pickled beets. The smoky flavours really came through and added an interesting layer to the beets. It was served with goat milk mousse and panko coated goat cheese which was amazing.

For my main course, I ordered duck. The meat was tender and melted in my mouth with slightly crispy and perfectly seasoned skin. It was served with scalloped white turnip and a mushroom ragout. My dish was drizzled in a Marchand de Vin sauce. Everything was absolutely delicious!

My meal was paired with Westcott Estate Pinot Noir 2013 from Vinemount Ridge, Ontario. The wine was medium bodied, juicy, and earthy, with notes of black cherry, violet, and sweet spice. It had silky tannins and good acidity. The food and wine suited each other perfectly.

Instead of dessert, we opted to end the evening with an Absinthe flight, a trio of absinthes which are half an ounce each. They each had their own characteristics, one with strong anis aromas, while the next two were more subtle and floral.  I loved the ritual of dripping water to let it seep through the sugar cubes that are placed on a spoon over each glass.

The spirit Absinthe can sometimes be wrongfully perceived as a hallucinogen. I definitely do not share this perception. Still, there is a different buzz to this beverage in comparison to other spirits. Perhaps this is due in part to the mentioned ritual.

To me, this beverage makes me feels toasty and content like I’m wrapped in a warm and snuggly blanket. In other words, the way the beverage makes me feel matches the intimate ambiance of the restaurant. What a wonderful way to end a great evening! This restaurant remains one of my favourite Ottawa gems.

Absinthe is located at 1208 Wellington St W, Ottawa, ON K1Y 2Z7. 

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