By Anne DesBrisay
It was the “Lunch for 2 only $19″ Next announcement that really set the van rolling out to Stittsville. Next is the new venture for former National Arts Centre executive chef Michael Blackie, a big restaurant and event facility on Hazeldean Road that used to be called Issac’s 64 Hundred and delivered expensive, dreary, dated food.
I brought another mouth to Next, as the deal was (after all) “lunch for 2.” But upon examining the menu of small sharing plates (divided into cold and hot sections) and quizzing our server, it became clear the lunch promotion was any 2 (small) plates for $19.
It was still a pretty good deal, as these things go. But it was not what was advertised, and a bit naughty I thought.
Swallowing my sense of betrayal was easier when Blackie delivered — with some glee — his signature steak tartare. You may recall a bit of a tempest in a teapot recently over the announcement that Ottawa Public Health would be asking all Ottawa restaurants to stop serving beef tartare when some poor bloke reportedly became ill after scarfing some down at some undeclared restaurant.
Blackie was immediately and justifiably gobsmacked, and said as much, and other chefs weighed in, food blogs and tasteful tweeters had some fun, the city claimed ‘miscommunication’ somewhere, and calmer heads prevailed.
So we simply had to order the dish that caused the fuss, and the chef left his open kitchen to deliver it himself. We had a little laugh about the brouhaha. This was a full flavoured version, balanced and well seasoned, crunchy with onion and seedy mustard, served log-style with crostini dividers on a board with arugula bedding. No raw egg, however. Maybe too much for the city to take…
A second dish was less successful: the nasi goreng (Indonesian fried rice) was disappointing, missing both the promised egg crepe and the fishy element in the flavour. The side of beef satay was cold and dry.
Another round of tartare next time at Next methinks.
Cost: Any two small plates, $19
Open: Thursday and Friday for lunch; Tuesday to Sunday for dinner; Sunday brunch.
Next, 6400 Hazeldean Rd., Stittsville, 613-836-8002.