121 Clarence St.,613-627-2353, acemercado.comOpen: Sunday to Thursday 5 p.m. to midnight, Friday and Saturday apex to 2 a.m.Prices: $6 a taco, appetizers starting at $7, capital courses starting at $26Access: No accomplish into restaurant, but washrooms bottomward some abrupt stairs
UPDATE: This restaurant bankrupt in November 2017.
Some like it hot. My dining accessory at Ace Mercado on Clarence Street the added night, though, not so much.
He approached his aboriginal bites a little nervously at the five-month-old, Mexican-inspired restaurant, accustomed that the braised lamb taco was topped with, amid added condiments, “lime habanero mojo.” Fortunately, he was appropriate to go out on a limb. “Oh my God, that’s good. Spicy, but good,” he said.
You could abundance agnate acclaim on the best items on Ace Mercado’s tautly composed menu. The dishes that we would appetite to acknowledgment for adored us with complex flavours, ambrosial or otherwise, working harmoniously, additional some commendable craft.
That’s what you would apprehend from a glance at the sandwich lath in the restaurant’s entrance that announces the aptitude in the kitchen.
Ace’s card was developed by René Rodriguez, the chef and buyer of Navarra on Murray Street who enjoyed a blemish year in 2014 afterwards acceptable Top Chef Canada. “I’m alone there as a consultant, about 10 hours a week,” Rodriguez told me in backward August, as Ace was about to open. “Navarra is still my baby.”
In allegation of Ace’s kitchen circadian is Trisha Donaldson, who over the years has angry out accomplished aliment at the Black Cat Café, Pelican Grill and Almonte Riverside Kitchen, and who was Rodriguez’s sous chef along the way.
In some ways, Ace Mercado is to Navarra as Clarence Street is to Murray Street. Ace is larger, darker, and added bar-like, with abounding high-top tables for four surrounding a ample bar. Drinks at Ace are a big accord — specifically, Mexican-themed affair and several dozen varieties of tequila, offered with a befuddled verdita (a green, refreshingly herby, jalapeno-spiked concoction) or sangrita (a red, tomato-and-orange-juice-based accessory bolstered with chipotle, hot sauce, bend booze and cilantro) on the side. Also, Ace grows abundant louder than Navarra as the night goes on.
Food-wise, some of Navarra’s absolute dishes — Rodriguez’s spins on steak tartare and cockle ceviche — accept fabricated the move to Ace. Otherwise, the aliment pitches a little lower. Rather than Navarra’s new tasting-menu treats, Ace offers tacos, tortilla soup, guacamole or Caesar salad, although we’re talking about aesthetic renditions, not fast food.
Refinement costs extra, apperception you. Ace’s prices ability accord some account for pause. At $11, that guacamole ought to cure cancer, I think, and I didn’t adjustment it. Tacos are $6 each, authoritative them Ottawa’s priciest, I believe, and they charge be ordered two at time. Apperception you, the braised lamb and snapper (with chimichurri and blah relish) versions were characteristic creations. Like he said, OMG.
Lamb tacos at Ace Mercado
Red Snapper tacos at Ace Mercado
We additionally swooned over the adolescent tostada ($14), with its seared, coriander-crusted exoteric and comedy of candied caramelized onions, its acerb hits and brittle tortilla.
Tuna Tostada at Ace Mercado
Kudos too for Ace’s spins on several standbys, including a Caesar bloom ($12) that consisted of perkily dressed broiled babyish romaine with thick-cut, about sweet, house-smoked bacon and balance of aged manchego cheese.
Caesar bloom at Ace Mercado
Tortilla soup ($9) had abyss of flavour and acceptable crunch, additional the change of liquid-nitrogen-doused popcorn. Afterwards the smoke bound cleared, the absolute wow was its tomatoey advantage and bit-by-bit heat.
Tortilla soup at Ace Mercado
Tuna tartare ($17) addled visually, with bogie of raw bend abutting on a continued bean slab by abounding additions — chicharrons, broiled avocado, basis chips and different splashes of colour. It was an all-embracing and agreeable dish, but I admired alike added the huddled tuna tostada.
Tuna tartare at Ace Mercado
Scallop ceviche ($17) was below active than expected. I anamnesis the Navarra adaptation that I ate in 2012 had abate slices of scallop, added almighty contrasts of flavours, and aloft all, added brightness.
Scallop ceviche at Ace Mercado
Fries ($7) were bigger than abounding about town, ample but crisp. They came with hot booze abundantly applied, but I’d ask for them au naturel. Indeed, we accustomed a comped brazier of unsauced chips afterwards some misgivings were expressed.
Papas fritas (fries topped wiht manchego cheese and hot sauce) at Ace Mercado
Rib-eye steak at Ace Mercado
Chicken tamale at Ace Mercado
Duck duo (duck bonbon empanada, avoid breast) at Ace Mercado
Ace serves aloof two desserts, but both assemblage up able-bodied adjoin agnate rivals elsewhere. Amber fondant block ($7) came with above raspberry sorbet, amber clay and caramelized banana. Churros ($7), while a bit greasier than hoped for, were adored by a counterbalanced attic caramel dipping sauce.
Chocolate fondant with caramelized plantain, amber soil, raspberry sorbet at Ace Mercado.
Churros with attic caramel booze at Ace Mercado
I see that Urbanspoon’s crowdsourced booty on Ace is not acceptable — a bald 59 per cent like it. This doesn’t band up with my two visits, area in accession to commendable, beginning and at times blood-tingling food, the account was abreast and amiable.
My advancement to optimize a meal at Ace is to go aboriginal aback it’s added quiet and below busy, bend for the adequate banquette below the gaudily corrective skulls or the added clandestine aback room, and accomplish accompany with a tequila, verdita on the side.
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