EXECUTIVE CHEF DAVID H. VINOYA DROPS A NEW FUN AND INSPIRED MENU AT TULIP RESTAURANT & BAR
I love themes.
I love a good story.
I love great food that tells a great story.
Fun, inspired and innovative is how one would describe the latest menu drop by the well-loved, award-winning Executive Chef David H. Vinoya.
As one of the city’s new-ish restaurant, the purple-themed Tulip Restaurant & Bar is not a new restaurant by any means.
In fact, it has developed quite a solid reputation when it comes to its food and service. What we meant by new is that it always tries to deliver something fresh and with a new perspective.
A TRUE HIDDEN GEM IN THE OTTAWA FOODIE SCENE
I have been raving about this restaurant as a true hidden gem, both literally and figuratively.
If you aren’t in the know, you wouldn’t have guessed that there’s a beautiful restaurant inside a Hilton Hotel in Downtown Ottawa.
You wouldn’t have known that on Queen Street at the end of Sparks Street, there lies a patio, a bar and a restaurant that have become our top go-to destination for special occasions, night out and where we bring friends and out-of-town guests for a surely unforgettable dining experience.
Since moving to Ottawa from Saskatchewan, Chef David has been on a mission to deliver an amazing culinary experience that customers go back to over and over again.
Moreover, he is also in a mission to introduce Filipino food to the city and dare I say, the whole country.
For someone who genuinely believes that Filipino cuisine is one of the most underrated yet most delicious food on the planet, I wholeheartedly salute and support the chef on this mission.
I do believe the world needs to try more Filipino food and if you can get yourself to Tulip Restaurant and Bar, I think it’s a very good place to start.
Speaking of unforgettable starts, we commenced the evening by getting ushered into a long table in the middle of the restaurant annex. The entire place, as huge as it was, was reserved only for us.
BOOK A MEMORABLE DINING EXPERIENCE AT TULIP RESTAURANT & BAR
We knew right away that the night was going to be a memorable.
Adorned with candles on coconut shells, we did, for a moment, felt transported to an island in the Philippines. It was the perfect ambience to match our colourful tropical cocktails and wine.
NEW MENU AT TULIP RESTAURANT & BAR IS INSPIRED BY THE CHEF’S LIFE, WORK AND HERITAGE
Inspired by his life, work and heritage, the new menu is nothing but fresh, exciting and promising.
The list of new appetizers alone made the task of choosing our meals extra difficult.
Fortunately, we didn’t have to invoke “Sophie’s Choice” as we had a generous taste of the Pan de Sal (The Philippine’s ‘unofficial’ national bread, which incidentally, is also the same for many Latin American countries like Colombia) and the Crispy Pata (Undisputed national treasure made of pork hock, so it offers a delicious balance of meat, fat and skin), which is an ABSOLUTE MUST-TRY.
CRISPY PATA: AN ABSOLUTE MUST-TRY AT TULIP RESTAURANT & BAR
While crispy pata is traditionally eaten with rice or just by itself as ‘pulutan’ (beer food or food items you would eat while drinking), Chef David did a brilliant twist of serving it alongside a steaming basket of baos.
Soft, hot and plump as pillows, the baos proved to be the appropriate vessel for the slivers of tender meat, velvety fat and crunchy skin of the crispy pata, the hoisin sauce and the cucumber and carrot slaw, which provided just a tiny hint of zing.
TRY A LEVELLED-UP PAN DE SAL STUFFED WITH MELTED MOZARELLA
The Pan de Sal was warm, served in a skillet with golden herbed butter and filled with melted mozzarella… the cheese pull is definitely worth its own Instagram Boomerang. This was no ordinary Pan de Sal and we highly recommend that you DO NOT SKIP this part.
YOU CAN NOW ENJOY HIGH QUALITY SUSHI AT TULIP RESTAURANT & BAR
Nor should you skip the sushi…
You may think – this is not a Japanese restaurant. The sushi surely cannot be that good.
And you would be wrong.
The sushi were thaaat good.
Check out Milaine’s HAPPY FACE above for proof!
With names like Lyon Sparks, Bay Empire, Sparks Galore – it’s details you can’t miss as a die-hard Ottawan.
You see, all the sushis are named after the streets around the restaurant – Bay Street, Lyon Street and of course, Sparks Street.
As a self-proclaimed sushi connoisseur, I hereby declare these sushis to be really, really good.
AWARD-WINNING EXECUTIVE CHEF AT THE HELM IN TULIP RESTAURANT & BAR
This really shouldn’t come as a surprise as Chef David have had formal Japanese culinary training and over the years have had an extensive professional experience in a range of high-end restaurants and 5-star hotels.
He’s had culinary training and knowledge on a wide range of cuisines including Modern, French, Asian, Western and Canadian and he continues to hone his skills every time he steps into the kitchen.
While the table was divided on which one is the best, my personal favourite is the Bay Empire. Who doesn’t love a heaping of more umami-rich fresh tuna on top of their sushi?
Truth be told, we had to take a break before taking on the challenge of choosing our main entrees.
The appetizers alone were plentiful as they were delightful but we needed space for what’s to come.
After much deliberation, our table ordered the following plats principal:
- Longganisa Burger
Homemade Filipino sweet style chorizo (The Philippines’ ‘unofficial’ sausage) made with veal, pork and beef. It’s served in a focaccia bread with pico de gallo, arugula, buffalo mozzarella, topped with sriracha mayo and served with golden sweet potato fries.
A true visual delight – crusted breast chicken burger, fresh salad and tomato, special kitchen sauce, dill pickle, served in a black bun (so fun!) with Foie Gras Poutine (I knooow!) on the side.
The fanciest poutine I have ever tasted… made with scrumptious crispy fries, topped with chopped chives, black olive crumbs, Padano cheese and of course, smothered with foie gras bechamel sauce. A must-try!
- Hanger Steak
We can’t not order the classics. 6-oz. steak, grilled to perfection accompanied by fried smashed potatoes, peppercorn demi sauce and herb mustard sauce. You can never go wrong with a tried-and-true bestseller.
- Beef Cheek
New to the menu is the most tender of beef you would have ever tasted. Chunks of beef cheek braised in local wine served with smooth potato and parsnip puree and tomato and fennel salad, which added contrast to this rich and deeply satisfying main.
- Whole Cornish Hen
Slow-cooked via sous-vide, the roasted whole Cornish hen was one of the most tender meats we have ever tasted. Served with barley risotto, arugula salad, drizzled with maple sherry glaze, it was like a Christmas Gift on a plate.
- Rainbow Trout
A fillet of fish pan-seared and cooked to perfection served with roasted baby potatoes, heirloom carrots, chimichurri and drizzled with creamy tarragon sauce.
Knowing from previous visits that Chef David’s dessert creation is a visual and culinary treat, we can’t skip the desserts even though we were completely full at that point.
And he did not disappoint!
The desserts – Tumeric Pana Cotta, served with walnut brittle crumbs, topped sorrel berries and Purple Yam (otherwise known as the world-famous UBE!) Ice Cream, served with blueberry coulis, crunchy granola and sugar cookie are TO DIE FOR.
DO NOT SKIP DESSERTS at Tulip.
Actually, if I may leave you with one life advice, my friends…
DO NOT SKIP anything at Tulip Restaurant & Bar.
It is evident that Chef David is extremely skilled at putting his own stamp on traditional dishes, putting a twist on the classics, creating new combinations and experimenting with new flavours.
Yet, he is also cautious not to compromise the freshness and originality of the food he prepares.
The young yet accomplished and award-winning Chef is also committed to working with local vendors, farmers and partners:
“The best part is to help the [local food] community grow and getting to know the people behind the product. When you personally know the people behind the business where you’re buying local products and services, you enjoy a connection you would not otherwise have.”
Interview with Ontario Culinary
I would be amiss if I do not mention this aspect of the dining experience.
Filipino warmth and hospitality are known the world over and you can experience that right here. Every single staff (and they have a super diverse staff, which I love!) is warm, friendly and truly caring of their guests.
[Special thanks to Ms. Nicole and her team who expertly juggled running the bar and making sure we are having a grand time all night long.]
Whether you are joining them for quick drinks at the bar, a night out in the restaurant, a short overnight or an extended stay at the hotel, you will be absolutely taken care of at Tulip and at the Hilton!
Don’t forget… they also have a great patio in the summer!
Don’t miss the new menu, you guys!
Book your table at Tulip Restaurant & Bar today!
Oh, and while you’re at it, do book a room at the Hilton Garden Inn & Homewood Suites, which are conveniently situated in Downtown Ottawa and offers the most gorgeous views and warmest hospitality and accommodation.
In fact, we celebrate a lot of our family and friend’s special occasions here – from birthdays to anniversaries and everything in between!
Cheers and MABUHAY ka Chef David. Mabuhay Tulip Restaurant & Bar!
Full disclosure: our menu tasting experience was gifted but all opinions are our own – honest, truthful and delightful.