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Renowned restaurant Alice has closed — but its chef isn't done yet

Chef Briana Kim, seen here in 2017, has closed her highly regarded restaurant Alice and plans to open a fermentation-focused restaurant later this year. (CBC - image credit)
Chef Briana Kim, seen here in 2017, has closed her highly regarded restaurant Alice and plans to open a fermentation-focused restaurant later this year. (CBC - image credit)

One of Canada's best chefs has closed her renowned vegetarian restaurant in Ottawa's Little Italy neighbourhood — and is opening a new one with a new focus this spring.

Briana Kim, who won gold at the 2023 Canadian Culinary Championship, was slated to serve her last meal at Alice on Sunday. The restaurant on Adeline Street featured a plant-based tasting menu.

Now, Kim is setting her sights on launching her new fermentation-focused restaurant Antheia, which she described as an "evolution."

"I'm looking at each restaurant as a project. We're moving on to something better and bigger," said Kim, who previously ran Hintonburg restaurant Café My House, in an interview last week with CBC Radio's All In A Day.

Award-winning chef Briana Kim ran her vegan restaurant Alice out of this nondescript house in Ottawa's Little Italy neighbourhood. Alice served its final meal on Jan. 28, 2024.
Award-winning chef Briana Kim ran her vegan restaurant Alice out of this nondescript house in Ottawa's Little Italy neighbourhood. Alice served its final meal on Jan. 28, 2024.

Vegetarian restaurant Alice ran out of this nondescript house in Ottawa's Little Italy neighbourhood. Its final meals were served Sunday. (Benjamin Steven/CBC)

Kim said she and her team wanted to do more with fermentation than they had at Alice.

Over time, Kim said the team decided they wanted to build their own fermentation laboratory and be "a little more than a restaurant."

Kim said they've done a lot of work fermenting ingredients in glass containers, but they want to try other materials such as clay.

Because clay is porous, there's more oxygen and carbon dioxide circulating and "the flavour develops even deeper and richer," she said.

"So we want to study [that] and do more experimenting."

Fermented grape jelly and pine nut custard is one of the dishes on Briana Kim's eight-course menu.
Fermented grape jelly and pine nut custard is one of the dishes on Briana Kim's eight-course menu.

Fermented grape jelly and pine nut custard was one of the dishes on Alice's menu. (Supplied by Briana Kim)

New space in the works

Antheia, which is named after a Greco-Roman goddess of vegetation and gardens, doesn't have a finalized location yet, but Kim said there are a few options.

The plan is to build an "intimate dining space" with 12 to 16 seats, Kim said, with the food prepared right in the middle of the restaurant.

"We are sort of envisioning it as going to a show or a theatre and a lot more engaging with the guests."

Kim and her team also hope the dining experience will be educational: the plan, she said, is to offer diners a tour of the fermentation laboratory after their meal and answer their questions.

The ingredients and recipes are being kept a secret for now, Kim said. Her team will also be taking a few months off to work on different projects before Antheia opens, she added.

"Our goal has always been discovering new techniques and new flavours," Kim said. "We're excited to present something different and something new."