http://www.blackcatcafe.ca/Black Cat Cafe
93 Murray St
Last Monday, we made our way to the Black Cat Cafe, a small bistro restaurant on the edge of the Byward Market, to celebrate my wife's birthday. We had never been there but read favorable reviews online and were intringued by their simple but appetizing menu.
The restaurant is small and uncomplicated, a blank canvas for the succulent delicacies prepared in the open kitchen at the back. We were seated promptly by a sidewalk window in comfortable chairs. There was instrumental music playing softly and when it got dark outside, small candles were lit on each table, giving the whole place a warm glow. The menu was simple and is printed seasonally, on plain paper, to highlight carefully chosen ingredients at the peek of their freshness.
I started with a gin Martini (Bombay Sapphire) which was clean, crisp and perfectly chilled. Our waitress started us of with a small plate of freshly baked bread (traditional baguette and sun dried tomato flavored) sliced thin and served with fresh prepared butter. Then followed a complimentary amuse-gueule which consisted of a piece of red juicy watermelon, skewered on a toothpick with a small heirloom tomato, resting on a drizzle of balsamic vinegar. The quality of the produce used was evident from this delicious first bite.
We both selected the Crispy Duck Confit appetizer, elegantly displayed on a white rectangular plate with Apple Butter, Rhubarb Compote, Mizuna and Gorgonzola cheese. The duck's skin was perfectly crispy and all the flavors blended harmoniously to the credit of this wonderful dish. To accompany the food, I selected a white Chardonnay from Burgundy France and my wife chose the Australian Zinfandel in anticipation of her main course.
Of the 5 items on the main course section of the menu, I was instantly drawn to the Seared Sea Scallops ‘Saltimboca Style’ (Sage, Serrano Ham and Lemon Confit with a ‘Poutine’ of Roasted Fingerling Potatoes, Parmesan and Truffled Mushrooms). My wife went for an old favorite, the Lamb Rack (Fingerling Potatoes, Buffalo Mozzarella, Eggplant Confit & Red Wine Jus). Both our dished featured fresh local produce which the waitress explained, varies with availability. Both of our dishes included a miniature corn cob, still in it's green leaves with the delicate silk. My dish also featured some sugar snap peas, sweet and crispy, and my wife's has a fesh whole baby carrot. Everything was fesh, delicious and presented beautifully on large white square plates. The scallop dish was generous (4 large perfectly seared scallops resting on crispy green asparagus and full flavored Serrano Ham). As much as the scallops were tender and tasty, the best part was the side dish which featured fingerling potatoes served "poutine
" style with truffled crunchy enoki mushrooms, grated parmesan and a brown gravy which brought it all to a peak of mouth watering flavor! My wife alos enjoyed her generous serving of lamb (3 large tender pieces on the bone) which was perfectly cooked to her specification.
After such a great meal, there was only one choice for desert: the Quebec Cheese plate (St. Honore and Bleu Bénédictin with Spiced Pecans & Apple Butter). The cheese was served with thinly sliced French baguette and "pop in your mouth" fresh Concord grapes. I selected a glass of sweet desert white wine (Castelnau de Suduiraut Sauternes 2003 France) and my wife a 10 year old port (Smith Woodhouse) to enhance the wonderful artisan cheeses served on a large square white plate.
The service was perfect throughout, our waitress pleasant and knowledgeable about the food served. As with all quality restaurants, the bill was steep but not unreasonably so in light of the quality of the food and wines served. I highly recommend this delightful little island of gourmet delight for special occasions or spontaneous escapades.