for Ottawa Magazine, published March 16, 2012
A digital timer arrives with tea. It’s the only jarring ingredient at a Nectar lunch. But once it dings – three minutes, forty three and a half seconds later (give or take) – indicating that the ideal steeping time for that particular brew has been met and you then dutifully remove the pouch of leaves from the edge of the white pot and place the soggy brown bulge on the waiting saucer (which is then scurried away), there remains not a thing about lunch at Nectar to ruffle a feather. Which is the idea. Service is sweet, the pace is gentle, the tea delicious (ideally steeped), the food really very tasty and the portions – be warned – dainty.
It’s likely inappropriate to say, but this is a lunch for ladies. Bring your great aunt, your neighbour, your BFF. But bring a 17-year-old boy at your peril: the delicate arrangements will be scarfed before the timer has dinged.
The tea luncheon at Nectar begins after you’ve selected your brew from an inventory of over forty loose leaf teas, handsomely displayed in large silver tins on white shelves. Then you choose your sandwich – Cheddar Cucumber with Mango Chutney Mustard or Chai Baked Chicken were the two on offer – and lunch service begins. A gentle South Asian flavour wafts through it. A small cup of curried orange and ginger soup is hot and tasty. The chicken infused with Chai tea is moist in an open-faced arrangement with a roasted grape tomato. A wedge of turnover is stuffed with curried potato and leek and is very fresh and very yummy.
Next round: a perfect little scone (vanilla cream or cranberry orange) with Devon cream and strawberry preserves, along with a shortbread star scented with lemongrass. All scrumptious. Portions are not large, but you do end up feeling well fed somehow – might be all that tea.
We left Nectar recharged, with a few bags of leaf tea for home steeping and a plan to keep an eye on the clock.
Nectar’s Tea Luncheon costs $12.95 pp
Open Tuesday to Saturday from 10am to 4pm (5pm on Saturday), Sunday noon to 4pm
1250 Wellington Street West, 613-759-8327 www.facebook.com/pages/Nectar-Fine-Teas/