The Wellington Village (aka: West Wellington) has grown substantially since my better half and I moved into our one bedroom condo in its arts district. I am discovering that more and more of my colleagues happen to live in the area. Some of my old friends have even moved into the area. The rationale: its myriad of foodie establishments, its many indie art galleries, and its small shops and boutiques. Best of all, if you live in Hintonburg or the Wellington Village, you can partake of a car-less existence. Both Hintonburg and the Wellington Village border on the oc-transpo transit way, so you’re but 15 minutes from downtown Ottawa and 45 minutes from Kanata.
Regarding foodie establishments, there are many restaurants in walking distance of one another. Some serve domestic food. Others serve foreign foods. One ethnic restaurant, called “Les Grillades”, re-opened after an almost year-long hiatus. The reason it closed is related to Allium’s temporary closure. Both restaurants are located in the same building. A grease fire that started in the Les Grillades kitchen on the second floor made its way downstairs. The smoke and water damage caused both restaurants to close. Allium re-opened last July (2007). Les Grillades re-openned last January (2008) and it is a triumphant return. As before, I can’t say enough good things about it.
This, to a friend who looked to foodiePrints as a guide to good eating in West Wellington:
If you want really good middle-eastern food, try “Les Grillades.” It just re-opened and my posting for Les Grillades is in the works. Warning: If you do go, set aside at least an hour. It’ll take 20-30 min for you get your food, but the wait is worth it: best barbecue chicken in town – spatch-cocked (almost boneless), gently spiced, perfectly seasoned, wonderfully grilled
As with any other business, the first couple months of opening are critical. Restaurants need positive cash flow to cover significant investments in re-modeling be it new furniture or decorating. Continued business covers ongoing maintenance. As such, my better half and I rushed to be one of the first patrons of the newly re-opened Les Grillades.
We determined that the restaurant itself changed only slightly in its layout. The front of the house sports a newly rebuilt counter and a quieter hood above the charcoal grill. As far as we could tell, there were new ceiling tiles, new table clothes, new tables, and some new lighting. The walls seemed to have a new coat of paint.
Happily, neither the atmosphere nor the food changed. Ever friendly and welcoming, Chef Ali Chebbani still greets you warmly and takes your order before you find a table. The food is still made to order from fresh ingredients. The faint smell of grilled meats and spices still wafts through the air.
That night, we ordered a half chicken meal and a couple lamb kafta kebabs.
Les Grillades is renowned for making the best barbecue chicken in the city. There is good reason. Firstly, entire chickens are grilled and served halved or whole. The chicken is nearly boneless. When you are served, both the dark and white meat are cooked to succulent perfection. It is gently spiced and “herbed” and perfectly seasoned. The juicy flesh, Middle-Eastern spices, and charcoal grill flavor produce a harmony of texture and flavor with every bite.
The lamb kafta is also gently spiced and very tender.
As always, the sides are fresh. The salad is vibrant and crisp. The garlic sauce and hummus taste like they were just made. The rice, while reheated, is never hard. In fact, the rice is more of a pilaf than the typical rice that comes from a Shawarma restaurant. There are no short brown noodles in it. Instead, it comes with raisins. The raisins add a pleasant sweet sweetness and balances the rice’s savory seasonings.
The only issue we have with Les Grillades involves service. Since Chef Ali Chebbani puts the same time and attention to each order, this means that you can wait between 15 and 20 minutes for your food. When Jenn and I are lacking in time, we actually drop by, order for takeout, run our errands, and come back to fetch our meals, packaged and ready to go. The wait time is usually 20 minutes.
Good luck to Chef Ali Chebbani. We’ll be back soon!
Here is Les Grillades’ Business Card
85 Holland Avenue