#FULCRUMFOODREVIEW

Modern French restaurant MeNa breaks tradition with Canadian ingredients

Photo courtesy of Peter Hum

Walking in from the cold November wind, you’ll feel welcome and warm from the numerous candles lighting up the barn-style restaurant called MeNa. The main floor is very small with limited seating, so even if you reserve a table for two, you are placed beside the door. It took me a while to feel relaxed because I felt cramped within earshot of the hosts and they could hear every word of my life story until another flow of hungry people came rushing in.

The service is extremely attentive, and chef James Bratsberg is knowledgeable in the philosophy of French techniques, and uses fresh farm-to-table Canadian ingredients. MeNa is great for picky eaters since most of the menu offers mains based on fish, poultry, beef, and gnocchi (for vegetarians), only done with more oomph. They offer bread freshly baked in the restaurant, though the small and hard buns are a bit of a barrier to sampling their garlic butter.

For my appetizer I chose the cauliflower soup featuring gala apple, romanesco broccoli, and hazelnut butter. It was interesting since the cauliflower puree came to me in a milk jug contraption, so I could see the separate foods in the bowl before they were covered by the puree. The gala apple notes helped cleanse the palette for the entree.

For the main, I tried the roasted Cornish hen. It features fennel, polenta, and red pepper caramelized under the hen so each piece makes for a sweet and salty bite. It’s often hard to wow someone with poultry since it’s bland and depends on the seasoning; MeNa’s execution is near perfect, but could use more bite than the simple sweet taste.

I tried the chocolate and banana ganache tart for dessert, delicately plated with blueberry ice cream. The natural sweetness of the banana helps the mild chocolate and blueberries.

MeNa is great for a special occasion, an anniversary, or just a day where you want to feel a little fancier. One thing about MeNa that still stuck with me is how much the staff kept checking in on us, asking if we were done with our plates even though there was still a significant amount of food left on them. I felt extremely rushed. I suggest trying to go there on a quieter, less frantic evening—and specifically ask for a table far from the door.