A sure sign you’re Canadian is the uplifting feeling you get when the snowbanks melt away to reveal bare sidewalks again. You then throw off your heavy winter-wear. You don thick hoodies and vests and exclaim spring has arrived. The temperature, only 4C.
Greeted by sunlight this morning, Jenn and I wandered downtown to enjoy the newly warm weather; me, thick hoodied and she, vested. There, we decided try our luck at breakfast at the original SconeWitch (388 Albert Street). It is one of those eateries, we hear volumes about, but never found the time to try. Friends recently told us, the original was such a success another opened in the Beechwood area.
Unfortunately, it was not to be. When we arrived, we found the restaurant’s 25 or so seats were already taken. The scent of butter pastry filled the air. And, it was uncomfortably humid inside. In fact, condensation clouded the front window, giving patrons a little privacy and a complementary moisture treatment. We ended up picking up an Eggwitch ($5.50), a B.L.T. (bacon, lettuce, and tomato) with pesto SconeWitch ($5.50), and an Orange Cranberry sweet scone ($1.90) to go.
Jenn’s Eggwitch consisted of a savoury herb and onion scone that was hollowed out to hold eggs scrambled with cooked ham. Recommended by the line cooks at the back of the restaurant, my SconeWitch sandwiched baby mesculin with crisped and microwave re-heated bacon between the halves of feta scone. One half was brushed with a store-bought basil pesto. The other, spread with mayonnaise.
The Scone Witch is a canteen style restaurant. The dining room, decorated in a bistro style greets you when you walk in from the street. Against the wall is a graduation-style painting of chefs. In the middle is a witch with a tray of scones.
There is an open kitchen at the back. The separation is marked with a counter, where your order your food. We discovered lines formed at both the counter and at the door. The latter, for tables.
There are no servers. While the restaurant is professionally equipped, there is no traditional line. The three cooks who take orders and assemble scone dishes are also bakers and servers. When you eat in, they will bring your plates to you. After you eat, you head over to the cash and till to pay. When you eat out, they bag everything and point you to the cashier. Dishes are made to order. The cashier doubles as a dish washer, there being two dish washing stations in the restaurant. Given the turnover, I can imagine the restaurant going through a lot of dishes.
As we waited for our order, Jenn and I gave opening tables away and took our scones to a park bench on Kent Street, across from the Crown Plaza Hotel. There, we devoured our late breakfast. I found my sandwich quite the realization. Rich and decadent, well-made scones work in sandwiches. Mine was freshly baked, light and airy. Buttery, it tasted passingly of feta. With the peppery greens, nutty pesto, and salty bacon, I exclaimed with delight biscuit sandwiches did not even compare.
Jenn likewise enjoyed her breakfast, giving me her blackberry. The crumb of scone I stole from her when she wasn’t looking was likewise light and buttery with just the right amount of dill.
Total cost: $15.57 (after taxes)
Next time, we’re coming in when the place opens at 8:00 am on weekends for brunch. At $10.50, you get scrambled eggs, fresh fruit, a scone, and greens. The scone is accompanied with Moss Berry Farm jam or lemon curd. Everything is topped either with mustard-baked ham, a dollop of mushroom ragu, or Mediterranean vegetables and goat cheese.
Update 1: I looked into the comment from Pearl of the Eaten Up food blog that there was originally another Scone Witch in New Edinburgh neighbourhood. Indeed, the Scone Witch at 35 Beechwood Avenue was originally located on 42 Crichton Street. According to an older “The Materialist” blog by Kirstin Endemann of the Ottawa Citizen, the 42 Crichton Street location was takeout only. In September 2009, the former location was re-opened by Chef Susan Jessup as 42 Crichton Street Fine Foods.
Update 2: Apparently, the bakery from Heather Matthews’ Scone Witch is listed in the Ottawa magazine’s list of “101 Tastes to Try Before You Die.”
Tags: 101 Tastes to Try Before You Die, breakfast, New Edinburgh, The Scone Witch