The eastern suburbs have been something of a gastronomic wilderness for years. There are lots of places to eat in Orleans, but precious few that raise the bar. There are a few exceptions: I’ve eaten very well at Cuisine & Passion, though it’s more a catering, take-away and cooking school than a restaurant proper; I have a soft spot for the Lebanese food at Cedar Valley in the Orleans Garden centre. And then there’s this spot, St. Martha’s Brasserie d’Orléans, tucked into the Centrum Mall across from D’Arcy McGee’s.
Open in 2012, I’ve yet to mine its menu deeply, or its evening fare, but the two lunches I’ve had have been more than satisfying. The opening chef and part owner, Ryan Feltmate, continues to run the kitchen.
French onion soup – because the day was calling for that comfort classic – was very good. A rich beef broth, sweet, with slow-sizzled caramelized onions, and topped with house-made focaccia croutons, Gruyere for flavour, mozzarella for stringy fun, and fresh thyme leaves. It came with grilled bread and it filled me up for hours. And then bruschetta —not something I ever order in January, but this one read well and counted on more than winter tomatoes for flavour. It had dobs of chevre, a mushroom tapenade and house-smoked chorizo sausage. The $14 portion was generous.