1465 Merivale Rd.
Rating: *** 1/2
Pasta dominates the menu at Tavola, an Italian restaurant tucked among the big box stores on Merivale. Its high ceilings, large mirrors and open kitchen make it feel fashionably cosmopolitan in its suburban setting. We were greeted by such a friendly waitress that we all commented that she must love her job or is a talented actress.
A basket of freshly-made white buns shaped like mini loaves burst with steam upon pulling them apart, ready for a dab of butter or a dip in the spicy, herbal olive oil. The Caesar Salad ($9) was crispy, full of garlic, lemony and the croutons golden.
On the pasta front, the Lasagna alla Bolognese ($17) was flavourful, but lacked layers and reduced into mush. Although the Spaghetti ($17) noodles had a nice bite, the sauce was watery and needed more time in the simmering pot. But save room for the classic Italian meatballs that are both large and juicy.
Faltering pasta dishes were saved by the perfectly cooked and juicy Stuffed Chicken ($23). The pockets of tangy, grassy and herbal goat cheese hidden in the chicken were delightful as were the roast potatoes, which were crisp on the outside and creamy on the inside. Even the bright green al dente asparagus was impeccable.
At Tavola, enjoy reasonably good food while feeling transported to Italy through the great atmosphere and excellent service.
West End Station Bistro Every Friday night, this little bistro in the West end offers a three-course meal that includes a choice of appetizer, main course, and a dessert for only $30. 659 Richmond Rd. (613) 721-9639.
Mille et Une Frites This little spot specializes in homemade French fries and hamburgers. Even the mayonnaise is homemade! 58 Eddy St., Gatineau (819) 205-1095.
EXPERIMENT with sous vide demonstrated by Chef Michael Hay from the Courtyard Restaurant on Monday at The Urban Element from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. Tickets are $115 per person www.theurbanelement.ca.