Ottawa Restaurants

November 2016

Navarra

93 Murray Street
Ottawa, ON

This wasn’t my first visit to this restaurant and it has been about 4 or 5 years since my last visit.

Since I love all things Spanish, when our friends suggested visiting Navarra after the wine show for some last nite bites, I was excited.

After sampling several wines for hours, I was craving big flavours and some comforting traditional Spanish dishes that I know well.

I was disappointed this time, unfortunately. Pretty plates and heavily-scripted server announcements did to make up for the food’s lack of authenticity or just good taste.

Where to start…

My husband and I ordered some Catalan bread to share as a starter. This snack is quick and easy to prepare and will easily soak up any excess alcohol. However, for $8.00, we were expecting more than 4 x 3-inch pieces of ciabatta baguette. The taste was ok, however.

The chimichurri mushrooms that arrived were flavourful and plentiful.

The creamy, classic Tortilla Española as served in Bilbao, Spain.

The creamy, classic Tortilla Española as served in Bilbao, Spain.

Navarra's Tortilla Española

Navarra’s Tortilla Española

What I was most excited for was the classic tortilla española. Having tasted this classic Spanish dish so many times throughout Spain as well as teaching it in my Tour of Spain classes, I nodded in agreement with the server who announced my dish and correctly referring to the traditional “barely cooked interior” that gave the recipe its fame.

What arrived in front of me was a pretty plate, but the tortilla itself consisted of about 90% potato, very little onion and only held together by enough egg to secure its shape. It was dark and dry. The two lovely sauces served with it didn’t make up for my disappointment, unfortunately.

The most distressing thing about our visit, however, was to our dinner guests. They had ordered the Catalan rice with whole garlic prawns and were excited to dig in when the large bowl arrived. After they found one raw prawn (not slightly undercooked, but a solid grey), they tore open one more and then another. Not one of them was even half cooked. I understood the chef not wanting to overcook the beautiful prawns, but these looked like they had barely grazed the heat.

We summoned our server and asked that the dish be removed from the bill and to take the bowl away after the prawns were pointed to. Within a few minutes, he returned to our table and STUNNED us by giving us a long explanation of how “this is how West Coast prawns” are supposed to be cooked. I pressed him further to explain, adding that I have travelled throughout Spain and Mexico (the two countries inspiring this menu) and I have never seen raw prawns served anywhere aside from sushi restaurants. He stammered and kept trying to insist so I decided to end the discussion there. He tried one more time to offer us a new bowl of the rice and we refused.

We paid for our meals and left. We ate enough, but just weren’t thrilled.

I am hoping that we just caught Chef Rene on a bad night.

I am also hoping that those prawns were still frozen when they were cooked for us and they are usually prepared well.

I am hoping that the server learned his lesson when he tried to lie his way out of a discounted bill. Even if he was asked to do so by management, it didn’t get him very far.

FAV item? The Catalan bread is a classic and it hit the spot. Just wish we ordered two orders of it that night…but it would have then cost us $16.00 which would have been crazy!


Looking for a speaker for your next event or conference?

Stephanie Piché hosts a public cooking demonstration.

Stephanie Piché hosts a public cooking demonstration.

Cooking demonstrations, wine pairing events and lectures, travel talks and MORE…

She speaks with passion, insight and FLAVOUR!

To book an event or learn more, email us by clicking here