Acclaimed Ottawa chef Briana Kim has a new restaurant in the works to replace Alice

Acclaimed Ottawa chef Briana Kim has a new restaurant in the works to replace Alice

This year’s Canadian Culinary Championship winner will close Alice in January to focus on her third restaurant: Antheia.

Published Oct 11, 2023  •  Last updated 1 hour ago  •  3 minute read

Chef Briana Kim
Chef Briana Kim poses for a photo in her acclaimed restaurant, Alice. Photo by Tony Caldwell /Postmedia

Briana Kim, chef-owner of Alice on Adeline Street and the winner of this year’s Canadian Culinary Championship, will close her celebrated plant-based restaurant at the end of January before she opens a new, larger restaurant in Ottawa later in 2024.

The new restaurant will be called Antheia, after the Greek goddess of vegetation, gardens and blossoms, Kim said Tuesday in an interview. She is still looking for a location, but hopes that Antheia will open in late spring and have twice as much usable space as Alice does.

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Kim said she has outgrown Alice, not because she wants to serve more customers, but because Kim’s cutting-edge focus on fermented foods requires more room to store large jars and vessels filled with fermentation projects and ingredients in the making.

“This is an opportunity to redesign our space and start our new chapter,” Kim said.

“I knew this was coming,” Kim added. “I quickly realized that to do fermentation the way we are doing it, it’s very labour-intensive and it takes up a lot of space. We will need a dedicated space in the future if we are to focus on fermentation and innovation.”

Currently, guests at Alice are greeted by a wall-sized cabinet filled with large jars filled with products in various stages of fermentation.

Antheia will be Kim’s third plant-based restaurant in Ottawa. Before Alice, which opened in 2019, Kim launched Café My House in 2009, which was first on Bank Street and then in Hintonburg. Café My House was initially more casual, but as the self-taught chef became more interested in fine dining, her food grew more advanced and experimental, even as it won over diners and judges with its deliciousness and visual flair.

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When Kim won the 2023 Canadian Culinary Championship held last February at the Shaw Centre, Alice, which serves a blind-tasting menu to just 25 guests a night, was quickly booked solid for six months, Kim said.

Briana Kim, chef-owner of Alice restaurant in Ottawa, won the 2023 Canadian Culinary Championship held in Ottawa Feb 3-4, 2023.
Briana Kim won the 2023 Canadian Culinary Championship held in Ottawa Feb 3-4, 2023. Photo by Ben Champoux

“It happened almost immediately after I got off the stage,” she said. “It really shocked us.”

At the national culinary competition, Kim prevailed over eight chefs who had won qualifying events across the country. Kim’s winning dish was a deeply imaginative and surprisingly savoury creation that consisted of an onion tuile, smoked potatoes, rhubarb jerky, maitake mushrooms, pickled onion, dill, lacto-fermented green tomato and koji broth.

Alice will close at the end of January when its lease is up, Kim said, even if her landlord wants her to stay for another five years. She will launch Alice’s last menu on Nov. 1, which will be a “best of Alice.”

On this year’s list of Canada’s 100 Best Restaurants, Alice ranked 31st. It was the top-ranked of eight Ottawa restaurants that cracked the prestigious list.

Kim said that to build Antheia, she will work with the Montreal firm Appareil Architecture. It has designed some top Quebec restaurants and shares Kim’s appreciation of Nordic esthetics.

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The chef-owner said she wants her kitchen team to serve guests at a U-shaped counter that will be “comfortable and luxurious,” and lower than a conventional bar.

“We want people to see us getting their food ready,” Kim said. Antheia, she added, will better showcase Kim’s exploits as a trailblazer of fermentation, which is central to her creating new flavours and complexities for both dishes and house-made juices and beverages.

“When people dine at Alice, the most asked questions are about our process,” Kim said. “We weren’t really able to give a tour of what we do. We hope to be able to do that.”

Kim has just returned from a week in Copenhagen, where she is working on collaborations with two forward-thinking beverage companies, Empirical and Muri.

In the fall of 2021, Kim was invited to share her insights with the fermentation team at Eleven Madison Park in New York City, which was acclaimed as the world’s best restaurant in 2017. Eleven Madison Park itself switched in 2021 to a plant-based menu, and Kim was on the elite restaurant’s radar after she did an internship there in 2018.

phum@postmedia.com

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