Fondue just got a fun, fresh makeover thanks to chef Luc Doiron, with guidance from food impresario extraordinaire Robin Duetta, who are serving up pots of deliciousness at Patty Boland’s Pub in Ottawa’s ByWard Market. The pub’s gorgeous Abbey room is now home to Fondue, a new dining concept that more than holds its own against the great pub fare already on offer there.
Filled with old world charm, the space is cozy and welcoming, just the kind of place where you’ll certainly feel comfortable lingering over warm pots of cheese, broth and chocolate.
Chef Doiron has updated the traditional fondue by introducing some intriguing elements that I found very appealing at a recent tasting. Forget the classic Emmental cheese/kirsch combo; his cheese fondue is a brie-gorgonzola blend which gets a lovely flavour boost from new Ottawa product TreeWell Carbonated Maple Sap.
While the bread dippers were available, Doiron takes cheese fondue to a whole new level, thanks to his build-your-own poutine concept – simply ladle the cheese sauce over some of his delicious hand-cut fries, then sprinkle with crispy bits of double smoked bacon. Ridiculously delicious.
The broth fondues on offer are similarly inventive. A fresh and flavourful Thai-inspired version, infused with kaffir lime leaves and lemongrass, is ideal for cooking morsels of top quality seafood.
The same broth quickly becomes a fragrant soup when ladled over cooked vermicelli noodles. The sesame-dressed side salad that accompanies the noodles is full of flavour and provides a nice, crispy counterpoint to the various protein elements.
Traditional Fondue Bourguignonne gets a makeover here as well, with thinly sliced sirloin arriving alongside a pot of well-made veal stock. The meat was so tasty I wasn’t even tempted to dunk it in the accompanying aioli. Little slabs of ham, bacon, proscuitto, banana peppers and assorted blanched veggies were other great options for either the veal or Thai broth though my fork seemed to reach for the beef, over and over and over….
True to its roots, Fondue offers up a great sweet finish to the meal. Traditional Belgian chocolate fondue arrives with a variety of dippers, including bacon (what a concept – dipping bacon in melted chocolate. Yum!). I loved the Canadian Maple Taffy – hot, reduced maple syrup drizzled over a plate of clean snow, then conveyed to the mouth with pretzels.
Fondue is open Friday and Saturday nights for now but will be expanding its days of operation as word gets out and demand builds. Chef Doiron is already planning some clever adaptations to the menu for the warmer weather and is confident that Fondue will be a hit with locals and tourists alike. “It’s such a fun way to share a meal together,” he explained. “We like to offer our fondue at a relaxed pace and we know that having knowledgeable servers makes the experience just that much more enjoyable. We expect our guests will include those familiar with fondue as well as people who are exploring this great dining concept for the first time.”
Fondue is at 101 Clarence Street; call