For Joe Thottungal, Executive Chef at Ottawa’s popular Coconut Lagoon, it seems it’s not enough to be one of Canada’s most celebrated chefs. Clearly Chef isn’t ready to rest on his laurels. On December 3, his newest venture, a chic downtown space called Thali, opened for lunch and dinner.
At a pre-opening party, Chef Joe and his kitchen brigade, including longtime chef de cuisine Rajesh Gopi, treated those in attendance to a sampling of what to expect at Thali. Just as at Coconut Lagoon, dishes are fresh, delicious and influenced by the seasons. The innovation, however, is the service. A collection of small copper bowls brimming with fragrance and flavour are served up on a round copper Thali (the Indian world for platter). This format makes it easy to integrate and savour all the elements as you eat, including vegetables, curries, rice, chutneys, salads and more. Each Thali is structured to offer the full range of taste experiences, including salty, sweet, bitter, sour, spicy and astringent.
The space’s minimalist décor – designed by Project 1 Studio – gives the food room to shine. Sleek wooden tables accented by copper-coloured light fixtures add to the air of elegant simplicity. The space is light and bright, with a stylish bar anchoring one wall; seating includes communal tables and a window-side counter with stools.
If you don’t know Indian food well, Thali offers the perfect introduction to complex, appealing dishes that are inventive and satisfying. Takeout service will launch soon as well, sure to be a hit with downtown office workers.