Working with East India Company Restaurants’ Wares on Valentine’s @east_india_co

Butter Chickpea Wrap Butter Chickpea Wrap

Chatting with Paul Shevsky, head bartender at Stephen Beckta’s newly re-visioned flagship restaurant, the eponymously named Dining and Wine, we learned it’s Valentine’s “weekend.” While the wine bar at the rear of the lovingly restored Grant House on Elgin Street saw the usual traffic from people arriving early for their reservations, it remained largely empty. Conversely, the restaurant’s proper dining rooms were busy. Every “fine dining” table was reserved. The few couples that dropped in to claim the first-come first-served tables by the bar ordered drinks and bar bites. The bar area is the only... | Continue reading article

Belmont opens in Old Ottawa South

Inside Belmont Inside Belmont

Tucked away in a one-storey building along Bank Street in Old Ottawa South is the city’s newest entry onto the dining scene: Belmont Snack & Liquor. Once the home of Carmen’s Veranda (1169 Bank St.), Belmont threw its doors open to the public this past Wednesday evening after a soft opening for family and friends over the weekend. Having snagged an invite, a good friend urged me to join him for dinner last Saturday. Needless to say, I did not need any convincing as I love checking out new restaurants. Sadly for Don, he was... | Continue reading article

Ottawa’s Nominees Vying for EnRoute’s Best New Restaurants People’s Choice Award 2014

Mena Restaurant's Bar Mena Restaurant's Bar

While San Pellegrino‘s “World’s 100 Best Restaurants” list has snubbed Canadian restaurants for four consecutive years, Air Canada’s in-flight magazine, EnRoute, continues to celebrate Canada’s developing culinary identity. In 2010, San Pellegrino named Calgary, Alberta’s Rouge Restaurant to the 60th spot and Cambridge, Ontario’s Langdon Hall (now under Chef Jason Bangerter) to the 77th. Canadian restaurants have never broken the top-50. Conversely, EnRoute prepares annual lists of “Best” new Canadian restaurants for the year, collecting nominations from a panel of local journalists and visiting various city’s nominations. In the end, the submitted restaurants are judged... | Continue reading article

Fauna Finally: Jon and Kate Svazas Open their Highly Anticipated Restaurant

Fauna Restaurant Fauna Restaurant

Forty-eight hours have passed since Chef Jon Svazas and his wife Kate threw open the doors of their much anticipated restaurant to the public. Leading up to Fauna’s first dinner service, the Svazases engaged in a bit of tongue-in-cheek marketing, routinely changing the papers covering the slightly tinted floor-to-ceiling windows. Emblazoned with Fauna’s Momofuku-esque branding, they communicated the restaurant’s status, from “opening soon” to “opening slowly” and finally counting down the days until reservations were being accepted. Located directly across from Josh Bishop’s almost decade-old Whalesbone Oyster House, the embattled Fauna has been the subject... | Continue reading article

Pop quiz, hotshot! You’re Hungry! You’ve a Credit Card! Ordering by Phone is so 2000-and-Late

Big Plate Chicken from Ju Xiang Yuan Big Plate Chicken from Ju Xiang Yuan

With the beginning of September, a scary thought comes to mind. Patio season will end. Eateries and shops will pull back their encroachments onto public sidewalks as the weather takes on a familiar chill. Leaves will change colour and fall from their branches. Meteorologists will forecast the city’s first encounter with snow. Eventually, tables and chairs will be gathered together and put into storage until the next spring. Interestingly, 15°C seems warm after 6 successive months of frigid winter weather. When the temperature dips below 20°C during the summer months, Ottawa locals threaten to turn... | Continue reading article

Relatively Wordless Wed…I mean Thursday: Atelier Home Delivery

Atelier Takeout Atelier Takeout

Honestly, I thought I had seen it all last week. Jenn and I sat down at the bar of our favourite diner, Mellos in the ByWard Market (290 Dalhousie Street). We ate a rather late dinner, chatting with the amiable kitchen and laughing about many things food. At the end of a surprisingly thin service for a Friday evening, Mellos’ dishwasher asked for a plate of poutine and ate it with sliced white bread. He made poutine sandwiches. Chef Mike Franks, who takes over the 70’s era diner at 2 pm, shook his head, but... | Continue reading article

Titans Fall: ZenKitchen and Domus Close

Kyle Mortimer-Proulx's Brigade from Zen Kitchen Kyle Mortimer-Proulx's Brigade from Zen Kitchen

Traditional media takes sides. It largely has to to ensure brevity-is-wit pieces are published according to the aggressive timelines required by modern journalism. You gotta be first to break the story. You gotta get that quote. You gotta polarize your audience to ensure viewers tune in; customers buy issues; and readers click links. There are good guys. There are bad guys. Issues are black and white with few shades of gray. The words chosen tend to be inflammatory. Increasingly, content consumers are grazing, getting their news from a multiplicity of sources. Loyalty to one newspaper... | Continue reading article

Return to El Camino: Something’s Up…

El Camino El Camino

If you’ve heard me describe popular El Camino (380 Elgin Street) as Ottawa’s “answer” to Toronto’s Grand Electric, you may be wondering, “What on earth is that food nut mumbling about now?” Odds are I am tweeting with someone, visiting from the Big Smoke who asked for recommendations for where to eat. Odds are that someone is familiar with Toronto’s food scene. Odds are that someone also asked for unpretentious dining and value-oriented plates. Contemporary takes on classic Mexican street tacos usually fit the bill. Tacos, soft or hard shelled, are already universal crowd pleasers.... | Continue reading article