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Coconut Lagoon returns with extra refined meals after 2020 fireplace

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Coconut Lagoon returns with extra refined meals after 2020 fireplace

The reopened restaurant will cast off lunch service, quick meals meals, and buffets to concentrate on a extra refined and ever-changing dinner menu.

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When the Coconut Lagoon officially reopens on Wednesday, one of Ottawa’s most popular Indian restaurants, which finally welcomes customers back after a devastating fire in May 2020, will show much more than cosmetic renovations.

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Owner Chef Joe Thutongal, who finished second in the 2017 Canadian Culinary Championships, says his flagship restaurant on Saint Laurent Boulevard will strive to offer more refined foods as it operates according to sustainable practices post-pandemic.

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“When the fire broke out, it gave me a chance,” Thutungal said in an interview. “When I get a new slate, a blank sheet of paper, I have to draw really well. Now, I think I can do it.”

The new Coconut Lagoon is brighter and airy, with white, black, gray, and blue banquettes replacing the dark wood walls and tables that came with their extensive pre-fire renovation in 2017.

File photo: Joe Thottungal, award-winning chef and owner of Coconut Lagoon, shows damage after a fire broke out at the former venue of the popular restaurant, Saturday, May 23, 2020.
File photo: Joe Thottungal, award-winning chef and owner of Coconut Lagoon, shows damage after a fire broke out at the former venue of the popular restaurant, Saturday, May 23, 2020. Photo by Ashley Fraser /Post Media

Totongal, who owns the building that was once a convenience store and then a modest sports bar, ditched two two-story apartments during the most recent year-long renovation. There are now high ceilings and two upstairs rooms, called Cinnamon and Cardamom, respectively, for private dining.

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Since the Thottungal Coconut Lagoon first opened in 2004, Thottungal has been a culinary pioneer in Ottawa, spreading the vibrant foods and flavors of Kerala, his state on the Malabar Coast of southwest India.

He said the reopened restaurant will do away with lunch service, takeaways and buffets to focus on a more refined and ever-changing dinner menu that will offer more small plates and use locally sourced ingredients. A six-course tasting menu will also be available for $80 per person.

I am positive Ottawa is now prepared for Kerala connoisseur fantastic eating,” Thotungal stated.

He identified that “the butter chicken is off the menu.”

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The Coconut Lagoon web site offers two causes for ending the lunch buffet, which Thottungal admitted was standard. First, COVID-19 has made eating places and clients extra cautious of the potential well being dangers posed by buffets. The location additionally says that buffets end in “numerous meals losses.

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“In a world (and in this city) where there is a great deal of food insecurity, eliminating as much waste as possible has become a top priority for us,” the site says. The restaurant will also ask for reservations to “be sure we purchase and prepare dinner solely sufficient for the day’s wants,” the site adds.

Chef and owner of Coconut Lagoon, Joe Thottungal, held a minor opening last weekend to welcome guests to his restaurant, two years after a fire destroyed his former space.
Chef and owner of Coconut Lagoon, Joe Thottungal, held a minor opening last weekend to welcome guests to his restaurant, two years after a fire destroyed his former space. Photo by Ashley Fraser /Post Media

Thottungal played an important role in the nonprofit Food For Thought launched in 2019 to fight food insecurity and provide meals to Ottawa in need.

The reopening of the Coconut Lagoon is the latest major achievement of one of Ottawa’s culinary pioneers.

Thottungal has been a frequent participant in fundraising and culinary events, winning the 2016 Ottawa Gold Medal Competition, and qualifying for the 2017 Canadian Culinary Championships where he placed second in the field of 11 chefs.

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Thottungal’s 2019 cooking book naturally called Coconut Lagoon Won a gold medal in 2020 at the Taste Canada Awards. That year, Thottungal was also awarded the Ottawa Medal.

Meanwhile, Thottungal has been upfront about the hardships Ottawa restaurateurs have faced in recent years. While he was pivotal after the fire to focus on his second restaurant, Thali, this business, which Thottungal opened in December 2018, has faced its own challenges.

The O’Connor Street restaurant has had to contend with a prolonged abandonment of downtown with remote working of employees, as well as the occupation of downtown streets in February by the so-called “Freedom Caravan” protest.

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