Dining Out: Dishes are Delicious, Well-Crafted at the Pomeroy House
The Pomeroy House
749 Bank St., 613-237-1658, thepomeroy.ca
Open: Sunday 5:30 to 9 p.m., closed Monday, Tuesday to Saturday 11:30 a.m. to 2 p.m., 5:30 to 10 p.m.
Prices: Appetizers $13 to $19, mains $24 to $32
Access: Step to front door
Gluten-free options: full gluten-free menu available
The ducks touched down quickly, two by two, with nary a quack.
We’re talking about four gorgeous plates of duck confit that arrived at the table beside me at the Pomeroy House last weekend. Maybe the guests were regulars at the three-month-old Glebe restaurant, and had determined the menu’s must-have over other alluring options. Maybe intuition and a yen for crisp duck skin and succulent leg meat had guided them. Either way, they were unanimous.
They were likely delighted with their duck. Or at least, I know I was that night. Pomeroy’s chef and co-owner Rich Wilson, formerly the sous chef at Beckta Dining and Wine, had taken the bistro staple and made it sparkle. The duck’s taste and texture were just as it should be, while creamed corn, kale, spiced walnuts and slices of apple made the dish beautiful and doubly delicious.
That duck of one’s dreams was no fluke. Over my two visits to Pomeroy House, many dishes were deeply satisfying and even the betters of similar dishes in Ottawa. Just a few could have used a tweak in the kitchen.
Meanwhile, the room’s classy but relaxed vibe and its servers’ exceptional attention have made for special nights out.
The Pomeroy House, which for the last half of 2014 was called Segue, and before that was the first of Ottawa’s Fratelli restaurants, is a sleek room with a subdued colour palette and music at the right volume.
The long, narrow room’s 17-seat bar is a focal point, with a backdrop of brick and timber and upside-down carafes strung up as light fixtures. In the back of the room, beyond the line of tables that share the comfy banquette, there’s a cosy table beneath the huge window that looks into the kitchen. You can imagine the VIPs eating there.
You might feel just as special in Pomeroy’s cheaper seats, given how staff treat you. Guided by general manager and sommelier Lindsay Gordon, chef Wilson’s partner in life, our servers have been as welcoming, well-informed, attentive, wine-savvy and friendly as any we’ve dealt with in recent memory.
Dinners at Pomeroy have begun with much appreciated freebies — slices of bread with containers of superior caramelized, savoury-sweet-herbed compound butter.
I’ve tried four appetizers and each was distinctive and spot-on.
Seared foie gras ($21) served on top of granola and an apple slice fried in the foie-fattened pan was a beaut.
With its confident, eye-opening seasoning and house-made cottage cheese, a dish of roasted carrots ($14) reminded us of simpler, essential pleasures.
Chunky, fresh tuna crudo ($16) was perked but not overwhelmed by a bright pepper crumble and caper vinaigrette, plus morsels of olives, cauliflower and radish.
Miso parsnip soup ($9) was hugely portioned and luxuriously smooth, with bits of pickled shiitakes as an accent.
The restaurant’s one-page menu includes a category called “mids,” meaning cheaper, mid-sized dishes, rather than a middle course, and we’ve found some elevated renditions of simpler, protein-centred dishes here.
Baby back ribs ($16) were as good as a restaurant — as opposed to a barbecue pro with a smoker — can make them. These ribs were superbly balanced — boldly but not excessively seasoned, tender but not overcooked, with smokiness to appreciate after their meatiness and spice. Toothsome cheesy grits sealed the deal, although our party’s younger diner was happier still with crisp, notch-above fries and malt mayo ($7).
A holdover from Segue’s more simple menu, “Hot” chicken ($15) here was spicy, crisp, fried chicken with cauliflower purée to cut its heat. Bison short rib pastrami ($19) could also have been called pastrami-style cured bison short rib, but by any name it was a carnivore’s stand-out, speedily picked at and devoured at our table.
Lamb risotto ($18) was the rare instance of a dish that crossed the seasoning line, with much-too-salty lamb kielbasa sausage, along with blue cheese, making for a dish that hit one note far too hard.
Closer to faultless was this main course — a thick slab of crisp-skinned arctic char ($31), served with lentils, shiitake, sunchoke purée and pumpkin seeds.
Among the mains, the vegetarian choice has been a risotto-stuffed beet roulade with king mushrooms on the side ($26). As much as we admired the craft of the roulade, we wished for a little less of it and more of the swoon-inducing mushrooms.
Desserts by pastry chef Adrienne Courey have been involved creations with classic roots. Take the baked Alaska, for example, made with a chocolate-peanut-butter twist, which I wish I’d tried. Banana cake St. Honoré ($10), united gumball-sized banana caramel profiteroles, dulce de leche cream, salted chocolate almond toffee and bourbon crème fraiche. An apple pull-apart cake ($12) was on point flavour-wise (extra marks for the lemon ice cream) but also on the dense side.
A smaller and less complicated, but no less satisfying, finish: the house’s strawberry frozen yogurt or chocolates.
Given the résumés of Wilson, Gordon (who worked at Fraser Cafe) and their business partner Ion Aimers (Fraser Cafe, The Rowan, Wilf & Ada’s and more) you might simply expect the Pomeroy House to be the smash that it is.
Of course, it’s not like the three of them just snapped their fingers and a gem of a restaurant materialized. It must have taken sustained, conscientious hard work. Whatever they’re doing, they should keep at it, because what they do vaults Pomeroy House onto my very short list of Ottawa’s top new restaurants.