Along the lines of our Weekend Sushi Respite post, this post aims to provide a suggestion for dinner this holiday season as you rush to purchase gifts (shopping within 5 days of Christmas requires a lot of patience), bake holiday treats, decorate the home, and host holiday events. The season may be about celebrating with friends and family, but having an easy dinner option just makes things a little less complicated.
One of our former boxing day traditions involves visiting Les Grillades (85 Holland Avenue) for lunch. Owned and operated by Chef Ali Chebbani, the restaurant serves authentic Lebanese cuisine. It has attracted quite the following for grilled chicken. When last we asked our friends, our colleagues, and Twitter Ottawa for the city’s best options for roast chicken, Les Grillades was suggested more than once, especially by our neighbours who live in the Hintonburg neighbourhood. Here, the family-run Les Grillades is celebrated for its food, everyone remarking Chef Chebbani and his sons prove good things come to those who wait. The menu is entirely made to order. This can mean long wait times between ordering and service.
In fact the Ottawa Magazine chose Les Grillades as its “Budget Gourmet” option for Middle Eastern and African cuisine. Riva Soucie’s writeup is included in the December 2010 issue. Like Soucie, we think Les Grillades’ whole spatchcocked (back-bone removed and flattened) chicken, grilled on an in-house wood-chip grill, makes a great meal.
After a long day doing chores, Jenn and I save time by calling Les Grillades for takeout. We call when we get back into the house with our packages and groceries. By the time we are settled in, everything has been put away, and we have checked our messages, we take a leisurely walk over to pickup our usual takeout order: one grilled boneless chicken plate with steamed basmati rice and re-hydrated sultanas, fresh salad, hummus, and in-house garlic sauce ($17.99); and a side (usually fresh-cut potatoes for $2.99). Everything comes with bread, 4-5 pitas.
Trust me, the grilled chicken (marinated, seasoned with spice, and perfumed with smoldering wood) and its accompaniments are enough food to feed two people. After two Saturday ago’s Christmas’ing, we ate hungrily, but still had leftovers.
That said, for anyone working in the near vicinity, Les Grillades serves vertical rotisserie shawarma. The rotisserie only comes out midday on weekdays. The “trio” combination (shawarma sandwich, a side, and a drink) is one of the best Jenn and I have come across in Ottawa. It is made with freshly carved chicken. You can have the option of any appetizer on the menu for a side. I love opting for falafel.
What we particularly enjoy about the shawarma sandwich is Les Grillades using fresh romaine lettuce, instead of iceberg. It provides an almost peppery counter flavour and much crunchier texture than iceberg. Paired with freshly rotisseried chicken, in-house garlic sauce, and pickled turnips in a soft pita, you’ve a great workday respite.