Relatively Wordless Wed…I mean Thursday: Happy Halloween from Hooch Bourbon House

Hooch Halloween at Oz Hooch Halloween at Oz

It is always an honour to partake of meals made by chefs for their peers. Michelin Stars, AAA/CAA Diamonds, and listings published by Air Canada’s enRoute magazine are nice and all, real boons to business, but it’s often judgement from your peers that count. Who else beside those that brave the heat of a commercial kitchen to put intricate plates of well executed food on the pass for service truly understands what you do? Members of Ottawa’s restaurant and catering industry cooking for their own is what makes the exclusive “Chef Appreciation” night at Oz... | Continue reading article

Search for Tartare: Take Your Hands Off My Meat

Beef Tartare and Salad for Brunch Beef Tartare and Salad for Brunch

In all honesty, this post was intended to be a flippant response to what turns out may be an unfounded controversy. Last Friday, a rightfully irritated Michael Blackie, Executive Chef of Next Restaurant in Stittsville (6400 Hazeldean Road), called out Jim Watson, our rather social media savvy mayor, on Twitter. Accordingly, the Ottawa Citizen contacted him to comment on Ottawa Public Health (OPH), asking local restaurants to remove tartare from their menus. The local newspaper then released a seemingly hastily written piece by a “business and technology” reporter named Vito Pilieci. An award-winning technology writer,... | Continue reading article

A Return Visit to Pho’licious

Here at the foodiePrints household, Saturday mornings are usually rather busy, tending to chores and errands. There’s something appealing about getting everything done and having the rest of the weekend to yourself. But, after a morning of toil, there’s nothing nicer than a nice bowl of noodle soup, especially on a cold day. And, that’s just how we treated ourselves the first weekend of September. Since its opening Spring 2009, Don and I have visited Pho’licious once, the day after Canada Day that year. Although we very much enjoyed our pho, we never made a... | Continue reading article

Food Fight – National Capital Region Scotch Egg-off

National Capital Region Discovers Scotch Eggs National Capital Region Discovers Scotch Eggs

Ever wonder how independent restaurants survive the summer or winter lulls? Margins are already slim when your menu serves real food and not “doubled down” fare. From January to February, diners are cash strapped post-Christmas. From July to August, regulars leave their cities for holidays, be it a luxurious cruise with family, a sojourn to the cottage, or a spot of camping. Toronto responds with “Summerlicious,” a municipal program of table d’hote menus to “put bums in seats.” This year, the value-oriented offerings includes a “Polish scotch egg” from venerable Czehoski restaurant (678 Queen Street... | Continue reading article

El Camino – A Restaurant that is Good for Ottawa

"The Road" in Spanish "The Road" in Spanish

A longtime observer of Ottawa’s food scene, I celebrate how far things have come in such a remarkably short period of time. No longer do locals have to travel to Montreal or Toronto for a decent meal. Now, Canada’s capital, newly infatuated with street food, raw bars, and craft cocktails, aspires to be a food destination. Fearless chef entrepreneurs have established destination restaurants, some award-winning. Consider Town (smaller plates of finer Italian-inspired fare), Navarra (Latin-inspired fine fare), Wellington Gastropub (beer-inspired gastronomy and now nano-brewery), and Murray Street Kitchen (German-inspired farm-to-table fare). Diners have kept pace,... | Continue reading article

8 for 8: A Summer Escape at Le Café

8 for 8 launch party 8 for 8 launch party

Earlier this week, Le Café at the National Arts Centre (53 Elgin Street) kicked off the summer season with Executive Chef John Morris’ new “8 for 8” tapas and drink menu. Consider enjoy a relaxing summer evening with friends or family on Le Café’s terrasse by the canal. A canopy provides shade from the hot sun (and shelter from rain) while soft music plays in the background. It almost feels like escaping to a different world. Ducks swim by, sometimes waddling right up the patio steps. Boats decorate the edges of the water. And, depending... | Continue reading article

The Cronut Reaches Ottawa: Atelier Pastry Chef Tries His Hand at the Compound Confection

Never look a gift paper bag in the eye... Never look a gift paper bag in the eye...

The cronut has taken the food world by storm. A creative hypbrid of “cro”-issant and do-“nut,” the dessert confection was created by noted pastry chef Dominique Ansel of Dominique Ansel Bakery in New York City (189 Spring Street). While deep fried golden, like a doughnut, the cronut sports the same light and buttery layers as a classic French croissant. Hysteria over the cronut has manifested in lineups starting at 6 am, people buying cronuts en masse and “scalping” them for $40/piece (resulting in a 3 cronut/person limit), and Craigslists postings. Most recently, news agencies mused... | Continue reading article

Levante Becomes Hooch, Ottawa’s Newest Bourbon Bar

Hooch Bourbon House Under Construction Hooch Bourbon House Under Construction

I dread restaurant openings, especially soft openings. There is usually palpable unease when patrons walk in. Hosts dawn a false bravado, their being first to interact with potential regulars. Tables, from deuces to four-tops, are set for the first time. The hardwood beneath the chairs is immaculate. The shiny bar is newly stocked with booze. Everything gleams. Extra staff, from bartenders to dishwashers, is on hand, bulking up the front and back of house. It’s showtime! Why? Despite the advent (and popularity) of social media, the reputation of a new restaurant is still largely a... | Continue reading article