Location: 1385 Wellington St. West (near Island Park)
Tel: (613) 725-2757
Price: Over a 100$ after taxes and tip for two appetizers, two entree and three glasses of wine.
Ambiance: Family style restaurant. A bit tacky but tolerable. Clean. (link)
Menu: Although fairly traditional, the menu offers a good variety of options including fish dishes, vegetarian entrees and a surprising array of game meat. There is enough variety to satisfy the finicky eater as well as the more adventurous one. (link)
Service: Friendly, family style... the way it should be in such a restaurant. Perfect!
Food sampled: Appetizers: preserved vegetables soup and perogies; both were simple and good. The perogies were soft and creamy and were served with the usual sour cream. The soup's main flavour was created by the addition of sausage which, to a certain point, took more space then the vegetables. Main course: Wild boar roast and rabbit peasant style. The wild boar roast was quite bland and the accompanying sauce did not help. It has been obviously frozen for a long time before cooking or was simply badly frozen in the first place. It was a truly disappointing dish. The rabbit on the other hand was simple and delicious; nothing fancy here but well executed. The two dishes were served with mashed potatoes or spaetzles which were both OK (I would suggest that there was too much flour in the spaetzel batter but that is a very personal opinion) and a portion of cooked frozen vegetables.
Overall satisfaction: For the price we paid, I believe we should expect more then what was offered to us. Some dishes were at more reasonable prices but even those cheaper options should not be served with frozen vegetables. I have nothing against family style restaurant, on the contrary, these are places where everyone can feel at ease and eat good food at a reasonable price. I believe, however, that the otherwise very nice people at the Amber Garden failed at making their restaurant a true family restaurant. Maybe their goal was to offer a more refined dining experience but then they should avoid shortcuts (e.g. frozen vegetables), perfect their dishes (e.g. the wild boar) and improve on the visual both on the plate and in the dining room. If the food was disappointing, the people who served us were extremely friendly and helpful: always smiling, a nice and short introduction to some dishes, discreet... At the end, both my partner and I felt that a simple revision of the menu and kitchen practices would help tremendously; a tasting menu or a 'table d'hôte' option would also be more then welcome. We saw an unexploited potential for a great neighbourhood restaurant.