A Fresh Tropical BreezePublished on May 10, 2010

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  • Savanna Café Albacore tuna bathed in coconut, lime and habanero.

  • Chef Michael Radford from Savanna Café

Billed as Ottawa's original fusion restaurant, Savana Cafe has been blending flavours and spices from the Caribbean and south-east Asia for more than twenty year

Now, there is a fresh tropical breeze blowing through this cheery eatery with the arrival of Executive Chef Michael Radford, who is busy putting his own stamp on Savana's menu.

Owner Cathy Dewar is quick to praise her new young chef, who comes to Savana with an excellent culinary pedigree. "Michael is fantastic at creating plates that feature an explosion of little flavours," she explains. "He is taking ideas from authentic tropical cuisine and refining them with a European approach to cooking."

Salt fish and ackee, a Jamaican classic, is but one of Michael's personal favourites that are drawing rave reviews. His version, a feast for all the senses, includes panko-crusted cod with a gorgeous yellow ackee puree, accented by tomato sofrito and lime cilantro aioli.

Michael's ceviche -- featuring sustainable BC albacore tuna bathed in coconut, lime and habanero -- is fresh and fabulous. Equally appealing are the boneless beef short ribs, done up right with a tamarind tomato glaze and accompanied by truffle-oiled cauliflower puree and a unique bread dumpling. "This dish is kind of like my unique take on roast beef dinner," says Michael with a smile.

Long-time fans are flocking back to Savana thanks to the new energy in the kitchen. They'll be glad to find the banana cheesecake is still on the dessert menu, however, I'd urge them instead to try the fantastic key lime semi-freddo, served in a deconstructed parfait format with multiple delectable elements.

In addition to its satisfying food and fun cocktail menu, Savana dishes up friendly service which matches its vibrant decor. Whether you are warming your toes by the cozy fireplace or lounging outdoors in patio season, Savana makes it possible to close one's eyes and conjure up visions of the tropics.

Savana Cafe

431 Gilmour Street,

613.233.9159.




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