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Ottawa


mkjr
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Tried to post this in another thread but no response so decided on a new thread.

Need to choose a place for about 10 -12 - very good budget.

Choices are Luxe, Domus, Stella, e18hteen, Social (these last two seem more like bars though) Kinki is also there but if is it too sushi type fusion (similar to Blowfish in Toronto), it may not please all (me yes, but not a group). Vittoria Trattoria is also a choice but I have not been there for many many years and wonder if it is still a good place or not. Not sure if there is flexibility outside these choices but feel free to add advice on others.

No idea about the Ottawa dining scene and not been there in over 5 years.

Also a factor is a very good wine list - and by that I mean 100% (not 300%) mark up and good, non-LCBO product selection in the 100-120 dollar bottle range - i.e. I do not want to pay $100 bucks for a $30 dollar bottle.

Thanks for your input.

officially left egullet....

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Your intuitions are pretty much exactly right. Kinki is definitely a sushi-fusion place...and not an especially great one in my opinion. Social serves some good food, but is better known for it's late night upscale party scene (which is pretty good). I'm not a big fan of e18hteen myself, although there are others who do like it. I've heard good things about Luxe and Stella but haven't been myself.

If I were to choose from your list, I would certainly choose Domus. The food there is always superb. If your options extend beyond what's on the list I'd also recommend Beckta (which I give a slight edge over Domus), and Perspectives restaurant at the Brookstreet Hotel in Kanata (possibly too far away). Beckta is similar to Domus in many ways, offering slightly more modern uses of local ingredients, whereas the food at Perspectives is more southeast Asian (the chef formerly worked in this part of the world).

Vittoria Trattoria is still good, but I wouldn't call it great and it's certainly not in the same league as these other places. Although, they do have a very extensive wine list.

As for wines, I can say that I've been happy at the places I recommend, but I'm really no expert in this area. Beckta is owned by a former sommelier so I'm assuming that it would meet your needs.

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Your intuitions are pretty much exactly right.  Kinki is definitely a sushi-fusion place...and not an especially great one in my opinion.  Social serves some good food, but is better known for it's late night upscale party scene (which is pretty good).  I'm not a big fan of e18hteen myself, although there are others who do like it.  I've heard good things about Luxe and Stella but haven't been myself.

If I were to choose from your list, I would certainly choose Domus.  The food there is always superb.  If your options extend beyond what's on the list I'd also recommend Beckta (which I give a slight edge over Domus), and Perspectives restaurant at the Brookstreet Hotel in Kanata (possibly too far away).  Beckta is similar to Domus in many ways, offering slightly more modern uses of local ingredients, whereas the food at Perspectives is more southeast Asian (the chef formerly worked in this part of the world).

Vittoria Trattoria is still good, but I wouldn't call it great and it's certainly not in the same league as these other places.  Although, they do have a very extensive wine list.

As for wines, I can say that I've been happy at the places I recommend, but I'm really no expert in this area.  Beckta is owned by a former sommelier so I'm assuming that it would meet your needs.

If you really have to stay in the Byward Market area (alot of choice and alot of mediocrity) your best bet would maybe be Domus. It is smallish and bistro style and so you should inquire about whether they have a private room as I'm not entirely sure they do. I have still not been to Sweetgrass, which specializes in Aboriginal cuisine, but others I know and trust have said they really liked it for something a little different.

I would really give Beckta two thumbs up were it not for Stephen Vardy's departure to Whalesbone, and were it not mildly overpriced. Aroma, on the same street, is quite good if you like Mediterranean.

Edited by CharityCase (log)
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CharityCase:

I had not been to Ottawa in quite some time until two visits in February and March respectively earlier in the year.

On three of the evenings I ate at Beckta and thoroughly enjoyed myself. I never ate there when Vardy was the chef but it certainly did not disappoint. Owner Stephen certainly does know his wine and his wine list is not overladen with "trophy" expense account bottles. Well chosen for what his chef is preparing.

On another evening on my waiter's suggestion I ventured to Whalebones. Vardy had the night off but I thoroughly enjoyed myself chatting with who I think is the owner of this small spot. Good oysters, decent wine. Good time.

On Stephen Beckta's suggestion I hailed a cab out to the Wellington Village and a top notch evening at the Wellington Gastropub. Excellent food in a relaxed setting. Good wine list and friendly discussions with chef Chris and front of room Shane.

I am flying out there again on Sunday for a few days. Not very interested in the Market but Domus might be a good suggestion. Quite a number of years ago I almost dropped in...back then I frequented Meditheo [sp?], Black Tomato, another one with a large deck whose name escapes me which had a good wine list but was quite expensive and Au Claire de Lune.

Truth be known, in years gone by I usually ended up "paying" for the two hour time difference in that wine bar downstairs below the fish restaurant in the Market...Vinelands?...seemed early until the alarm clock went off for the morning meeting....

I almost went to Aroma twice...it is the one diagonally across Nepean from Beckta isn't it? I was caught in a snowstorm walking up to where I thought Beckta was and saw the lights. If, I can convince one or two others to join me so we can order a lot of taps offerings that might work.

I would appreciate any other suggestions you might have especially for my first night Sunday.

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On another evening on my waiter's suggestion I ventured to Whalebones.  Vardy had the night off but I thoroughly enjoyed myself chatting with who I think is the owner of this small spot.  Good oysters, decent wine.  Good time.

Whalesbone is very small, so with 10-12 people I would certainly call ahead to make sure that they can accomodate you.

I am flying out there again on Sunday for a few days.  Not very interested in the Market but Domus might be a good suggestion.  Quite a number of years ago I almost dropped in...back then I frequented Meditheo [sp?], Black Tomato, another one with a large deck whose name escapes me which had a good wine list but was quite expensive and Au Claire de Lune.

Meditheo and Au Claire de Lune have both made way for other restaurants (including Stella, mentioned by mkjr). The one with the large patio is probably Empire Grill. I know there are some people that enjoy it for drinks, but their food is nothing special and I've sworn off the place after 2 horrible experiences with snobby service there.

The Black Tomato is still around and is still pretty good. Personally, I would go for the Black Cat Cafe, also in the Market. Maybe a little less inventive, but the food is always tasty and they have a fantastic patio at the rear in a quiet cobblestone courtyard.

Truth be known, in years gone by I usually ended up "paying" for the two hour time difference in that wine bar downstairs below the fish restaurant in the Market...Vinelands?...seemed early until the alarm clock went off for the morning meeting....

Vineyards! Yes, that is an excellent little wine bar. A little too dark for a nice summer evening, but especially when they have their live jazz setup going, it can be a fantastic spot to lose a couple of hours. Another great subterranean hangout is The Manx pub on Elgin St. They've got Ottawa's best on-tap beer selection (almost entirely Ontario & Quebec microbrews) and a fairly inventive food menu. It is small though, so it'd be tough to fit in a large group on a weekend night.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Just back after a few days in Ottawa. Did not have much time to get out and about but did manage a return visit to the Wellington Gastropub on Tuesday evening.

Another very good evening. Nice to chat with Shane again and this time was served up at my perch at the bar by Pooya.

Opted for their green salad accompanied by some delicious beets followed by grilled skirt steak served over barely ccoked crisp green beans and a blue cheese polenta accompanied by some port jus.

Very good. The beans were just the way I like them and the polenta, I can still taste the blue cheese.

Tartare was on the menu which I was told by Shane is something they are known for. I think this was bison. Although I did not decide to have it, if it is on the menu the next time I am in town, I will. I was given a taster. Nicely spiced accompanied by some truffle oil. Excellent colour and nice texture.

I had a number of glasses of wine from their good list and left feeling very well fed.

I got there barely after their 5:30 p.m. opening and people were steadily arriving and it was quite full by the time I headed back to my hotel.

The evening before a few of us wandered down to the Market after a reception we had back at our hotel that went to about 8:00 p.m.. As a result, the restaurants in the market were quite busy. When told it would be more than an hour at Stella we retraced out steps back to Luxe.

Very busy and crowded when we arrived. Nice friendly service did get us a table after a little wait. Our server was friendly and competent. Unfortunately, I do not think the kitchen was prepared for the numbers. Seemed to take quite a while for our food to arrive. I opted for their halibut. Was told it would come as requested, i.e. a little undercooked. Unfortunately it came a little more cooked than the flakey state I enjoy. The bok choy and other accompanying vegetables were delicious and did not suffer from "hanging around" which I think was the fate of my halibut.

The others in my party enjoyed their food especially the veal chop which was one of their specials. I am not sure that I would "race" back.

When I arrived Sunday afternoon I had also walked down to the market to stretch my legs after the morning flight. I was not too hungry but did want some wine and a little bite to eat. Grabbed a chair on the patio as Empire Grill and was going to skip the food part but was convinced by the server, Trish to try their crab cakes. Two round crab cakes slightly larger than golf balls fried to a crisp brown extgerior accompanied by a chipotle sauce which possessed some fire. The crab inside was quite good without a lot of detectable "filler". Quite rich. Hit the spot and I do not think I could have eaten much more.

I then wandered down the street and decided to check out Stella. I ordered some wine and their grilled calamari salad. I waited and waited but did not particularly care since it was a nice afternoon and perfect for people watching. Some time later my waiter came back and rather than apologizing profusely said something to the effect of "I will not BS you...I completely screwed up...here is your salad and wine...they are on me"....cannot complain about that.

All in all a nice trip.

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  • 1 year later...

Are there any upscale restaurants in Ottawa that attract a thirtysomething crowd?

I've enjoyed meals at Domus, would be hoping to find something at a similar quality level with regards to both food and service.

Edited by phoenikia (log)
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I was in Ottawa a couple of weeks ago and enjoyed my time there.

Murray Ave has certainly expanded. Had a very good lunch and charcutterie at Murray Kitchen-Wine-Charcutterie. Nice chat with the chef and some excellent roast pork. Decent wine list. Nice atmosphere. Friendly folks.

That nite I crossed the street to Navarra. Spanish influenced dining. Quite enjoyed it. Both have only been open a matter of weeks just down the street from Domus

If you do not mind going away from the Market, I would recommend the Wellington Gastropub which I posted about further up the list when I was back in Ottawa some months ago. Did not make it back there this trip but certainly will on another occasion as with Beckta.

Whalebones, Benitz, etc are also good.

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I was in Ottawa a couple of weeks ago and enjoyed my time there.

Murray Ave has certainly expanded.  Had a very good lunch and charcutterie at Murray Kitchen-Wine-Charcutterie.  Nice chat with the chef and some excellent roast pork.  Decent wine list.  Nice atmosphere. Friendly folks.

That nite I crossed the street to Navarra.  Spanish influenced dining.  Quite enjoyed it.  Both have only been open a matter of weeks just down the street from Domus

If you do not mind going away from the Market, I would recommend the Wellington Gastropub which I posted about further up the list when I was back in Ottawa some months ago.  Did not make it back there this trip but certainly will on another occasion as with Beckta.

Whalebones, Benitz, etc are also good.

Thanks for the suggestions...have added them to my list for my next trip!

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