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Ottawa Restaurant Recommendations


Jinmyo
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Had dinner at Beckta. Here are my impressions:

The focus on unusual ingredients (like east coast seaweed), a few favourite stand-bys (like steak-frites), an emphasis on experimentation (like foie gras poutine) and interesting combinations (like duck confit and squash bisque) make for a menu that appeals to both the adventure-seeking and the comfort-seeking palates.

For every table, the evening (and it is a long meal) starts off with an amuse bouche. That night we had tomato salsa beef tartare (or something like that) served on Chinese soup spoons, and ended off the meal with petite fours. The petite fours reminded me of mini brownies and tiny little donuts from the carnival.

I couldn't help drawing similarities between this restaurant and Restaurant Signatures at Le Cordon Bleu in Ottawa. Same sort of French sensibilities. But whereas Signatures is classical French, Beckta is experiential. Whereas Signatures is priced with old-school notions of formal French dining, Beckta is hipper and priced more value for the dollar.

For dinner, instead of going with the five course tasting menu, we opted for our own three appetizers: snow crab salad, squash bisque and foie gras poutine. For the dinner entrees we had steak frites, and a duck breast served with an interesting combination of grilled fruits and vegetables such as beets, peaches and grapes and mini shitake mushrooms. The steak, on the other hand, was topped with a large smoky, woody, earth shitake? mushroom. It tasted vastly different from the duck breast mushrooms though. There was obviously an emphasis on developing different flavours with the same ingredients. The duck alone was fine, but it was the sum of all parts that made the meal strong.

The dessert was the show stopper. It was a dramatic end to a great meal. We had the crème brulée and a Valrhona chocolate thing. The only disappointment was the wine selection. The server promised a smooth red, but it turned out to be young and puckery. Otherwise, it was a great meal.

Edited by cwyc (log)
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  • 1 month later...
  • 1 month later...

Try Zibibbo's in Ottawa, they call themselves an Italian soul kitchen. It's a small intimate restaurant with only about 8 tables. The cooking is very similar to Mario Batali's style and changes frequently.

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  • 3 months later...

The last time I was in Ottawa I went to an Asian restraunt in the market. I had ordered a number 6, which was the chicken. They thought I said 7 (which was the wanton soup). The lady behind me ordered the number 6. When they put her's on the pick up counter, I picked it up thinking it was mine. When they noticed me pick up the chicken, thinking I had ordered the wonton soup, the woman who ran the restraunt ran over to my table and took my lunch away. :unsure:

-- Jason

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  • 3 weeks later...
There are no restaurants here that I have ever encountered worth eating at.

Have you been to Ichibei?

It's probably my favorite restaurant in Ottawa, but after your assertion that there are NO good restaurants in town I feel like a tasteless food monkey.

Can we come eat at your joint?

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uh oh, this discussion isn't boding well for me. :sad: no good restaurants?!?!

I recently found out i may be headed to Ottawa for a 4-5 week stay. It's a work assignment and the office is located near the Byward Market. Already I'm thinking - lunch. Are there any food stalls/shops in the Market that are worth frequenting?

Also, if there are no "great" restaurants, what are some of the places people just enjoy on a regular basis? I am open to all cuisines (except steak houses).

During my last trip to Ottawa (January 2003), I noticed that there seemed to be a proliferation of bistro-esque, white table cloth places a couple of blocks away from Byward Market which, at the time received some praise. Unfortunately, I can't recall the restaurant names or where the praise was coming from. Also during that trip, I ate at Henri Burger. It was a nice meal, but I don't recall it being especially great. I liked the individual dining room setting, but not waiting outside in the cold trying to wave down a cab. I'd probably go back, but my friends in Ottawa would likely see it as a "special occasion" kind of place, and not an ideal choice for a casual dinner on a Wednesday night.

Food/restaurant suggestions... anyone?

Thanks!

Debbie S. aka "ozgirl"

Squirrel: "Darn nuts! How I long for a grapefruit." - Eddie Izzard

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uh oh, this discussion isn't boding well for me. :sad: no good restaurants?!?!

I recently found out i may be headed to Ottawa for a 4-5 week stay. It's a work assignment and the office is located near the Byward Market. Already I'm thinking - lunch. Are there any food stalls/shops in the Market that are worth frequenting?

Also, if there are no "great" restaurants, what are some of the places people just enjoy on a regular basis? I am open to all cuisines (except steak houses).

During my last trip to Ottawa (January 2003), I noticed that there seemed to be a proliferation of bistro-esque, white table cloth places a couple of blocks away from Byward Market which, at the time received some praise. Unfortunately, I can't recall the restaurant names or where the praise was coming from. Also during that trip, I ate at Henri Burger. It was a nice meal, but I don't recall it being especially great. I liked the individual dining room setting, but not waiting outside in the cold trying to wave down a cab. I'd probably go back, but my friends in Ottawa would likely see it as a "special occasion" kind of place, and not an ideal choice for a casual dinner on a Wednesday night.

Food/restaurant suggestions... anyone?

Thanks!

Debbie S. aka "ozgirl"

Squirrel: "Darn nuts! How I long for a grapefruit." - Eddie Izzard

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Don't worry, you will be able find plenty of places to eat in Ottawa. These are a few places that I go to when I go home and actually do end up going out to eat. (I'm spoiled with good food in Montreal).

Beckta (a bit of everything) on Nepean

Zibibbo (tuscan) on Somerset

Anna (thai) on Holland

Eighteen (modern) on York Street, they just got a new chef so who knows

Luxe on York (french bistro) decent

Geraldo's (Tuscan) on Beechwood

The Black Tomato

Lunch:

The Byward Market building

It's the long central building where you can pick up something simple and quick, but stick to the indian, moroccan and lebanese shops. The sushi is ok....Don't go near the bakeries at either ends.

The French Baker on Murray

Good breads and sandwiches to be picked up.

Azteca

Good authentic mexican.

The Table on Dalhousie

This is a decent vegetarian by the pound kind of place. It's good if you're just feeling like something simple and healthy, or just a bowl of soup.

If I think of anything else I'll let you know.

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Hi folks. Update time, I think.

Beckta opened since my original post. I've heard many good things, especially from a line cook who worked there. Worth checking out.

Regarding sushi in the Byward Market building, in walking past and stopping I saw condensation on the inside of the plastic lids of prepared "bentos" because the rice was too hot to be put with the raw fish. Very dangerous as well as indicative of the general incompetance. If one wants to lick a petri dish of unspecified origin, go right ahead. Here's a napkin for when you begin to spit vital organs. A cloth napkin, of course ublike the paper thing that came with the bento.

There are however many wonderful shops in Byward Market, so if you're cooking it's great. If you're thinking of dining, get a sandwich instead.

tootallfortoques, my joint is more or less like a private club, one of very many here, which is where most of the good food tends to happen in Ottawa rather than in restaurants. It's a government city with much old money and lineages.

Regarding Ichibai, $11 for a soba soup sounds so silly s... s... ran out of s words. My sous ate there and said that she instantly recognized the instant dashi base because she uses it at home for a "cup o soup" kind of quick snack.

Back to the Market, stay away from Kinki for sushi or anything else. Just stay away. Cross the street when walking past. Hold your breath. Fake dashi is the least of it from what I've heard.

ozgirl06, yah. Henri Burger is okay but not okay for the money. They top up wine glasses smartly, though.

Basically, the bistro joints that have sprung up are okay for a quick lunch. Better than the food court at the Rideau Centre which is close by. But there is no place for dinner I would recommend except Beckta and that's only on (very good) hearsay.

"I've caught you Richardson, stuffing spit-backs in your vile maw. 'Let tomorrow's omelets go empty,' is that your fucking attitude?" -E. B. Farnum

"Behold, I teach you the ubermunch. The ubermunch is the meaning of the earth. Let your will say: the ubermunch shall be the meaning of the earth!" -Fritzy N.

"It's okay to like celery more than yogurt, but it's not okay to think that batter is yogurt."

Serving fine and fresh gratuitous comments since Oct 5 2001, 09:53 PM

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Definitely stay very far away from KINKI! I got violently ill twice when I ate there. I thought the first time it was from something I had eaten earlier that day, but the second visit (stupid) confirmed that KINKI was the culrpit.

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Sorry to hear that, Larry.

"I've caught you Richardson, stuffing spit-backs in your vile maw. 'Let tomorrow's omelets go empty,' is that your fucking attitude?" -E. B. Farnum

"Behold, I teach you the ubermunch. The ubermunch is the meaning of the earth. Let your will say: the ubermunch shall be the meaning of the earth!" -Fritzy N.

"It's okay to like celery more than yogurt, but it's not okay to think that batter is yogurt."

Serving fine and fresh gratuitous comments since Oct 5 2001, 09:53 PM

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Thanks all for the advice as to places to check out and places to steer clear of (kinki - yeesh, sounds scary.)! I head for Ottawa next week and I'll do my best to report back on my experiences - good or bad.

Other questions... I am recalling a coffee/dessert place a couple of blocks from the Market. I can't remember it's name exactly, something like "Oh so sweet"? When I poked my head in last time, it was very crowded and seemed to have a good vibe. The cakes were enormous (do the cakes really need to be that big?!?!). Some looked better than others. Is the quality of coffee and/or baked goods any good? Or do people just go to hang out, see and be seen?

Finally... Canadian Buttertarts. I usually make my own since I like the centers to be a little on the runny side. Is there a bakery that makes great buttertarts? So far, all that I have found have been likely sitting in the case a little too long or overbaked for my liking.

Thanks again!

Debbie S. aka "ozgirl"

Squirrel: "Darn nuts! How I long for a grapefruit." - Eddie Izzard

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Debbie, I know the place that you mean. To be of some vague help, I think it's on George or Clarence near Sussex St. I don't eat desserts at all so...

"I've caught you Richardson, stuffing spit-backs in your vile maw. 'Let tomorrow's omelets go empty,' is that your fucking attitude?" -E. B. Farnum

"Behold, I teach you the ubermunch. The ubermunch is the meaning of the earth. Let your will say: the ubermunch shall be the meaning of the earth!" -Fritzy N.

"It's okay to like celery more than yogurt, but it's not okay to think that batter is yogurt."

Serving fine and fresh gratuitous comments since Oct 5 2001, 09:53 PM

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The dessert place is "Oh sooo good" and it has moved to York Street, actually a few doors down from Kinki. It's a place that my friends like to go to but I find their cakes horrible!!!! They do have a big selection, usually 20-30 to choose from every night but you will only like them if you like the taste of mass produced cakes using cheap ingredients. Plus, the new atmosphere is not as comfortable as the last. For dessert you're better off just getting some gelato or sorbet from either Piccolo Grande (on Murray) or Pure (on Elgin)... the weather should be nice.

The place to be seen in Ottawa (if that even exists) is Eighteen on York, Friday and Saturday (martitnis) nights can be fun.

As for butter tarts, my dad is a huge fan so we've tried them all, and you'll have to venture out to the west end to the "Three Tarts Bakery" on Wellington. They also have so, so cakes but it's all take out. If you do go, head down the street to Thyme and Again for some of their desserts which you can actually sit down and eat but it's a very neighbourhoodish atmosphere and they close at 8 during the week and 6 on Saturday. Service can also be bad and unhelpful if you come in an hour before they're about to close.

Hope this helps :biggrin:

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Ottawa is the capital of Canada. Canada is north of New York and is a different country than America. It is on the same continent. On a map, north is usually "up". Ottawa is the capital of this country up north.<p>

I thought Canada was like another state or something. I knew your money was different but I thought maybe you just hadn't gotten your delivery of cash yet. : Thanks for clearing this up. :wink::laugh:

Brooks Hamaker, aka "Mayhaw Man"

There's a train everyday, leaving either way...

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  • 1 month later...

Thanks to Jinmyo and Larry for the food/restaurant recommendations! A brief update on my dining experiences while here in Ottawa.

Dinner at Social. It was actually a n ice evening and my dining companions and I contemplated sitting outside in the courtyard. However, the wind was picking up and we feared that our food might fly away so we choose for indoors which wasn't nearly as pleasing. The food - well, I was underwhelmed. I ordered a tortine (sp?) of lentils which the waitress claimed tasted amazing - even if it was vegan. (yes, that raised a red flag, but i somehow ordered it anyway...) The tortine was fine for what it was, but I suspected much more could have done with it - seasoning? interesting vegetables? make it non-vegan and use a dairy product? The accompanying vegetables were undescript and I can't recall what they were.

I did try a bit of a friend's sea bass which was cooked nicely. If it hadn't been accompanied by a lobster salad (which I can't eat), that would have been a better dish to order.

Brunch at the Ritz (at the Market) - nice. Decent food with a very nicely paced waitservice. The waitstaff was attentive and always made sure that I had enough coffee but pretty much left my friend and I to sit and schmooze and enjoy the morning.

Smoked meat sandwich from Nate's... It was good, but I don't have anything to judge it against other than a pastrami/corned beef sandwich from 2nd Ave. Deli in NYC. The sandwich from Nate's was not that kind of sandwich. Is what I had the "standard" smoked meat sandwich?

Lunch at Blue Cactus - your average Southwestern/Mexican fare.

3 Tarts Bakery- taking Larry's advice, I found my way out Wellington St. I ordered some cookies, buttertarts (though they had run out of ones with raisins... darn.) and a lemon tart. The cookies were all made with plenty of butter - it was an underlying taste in each of the gingersnaps, oatmeal/raisin, and mocha chocolate chip cookies -- in a good way. The mocha chocolate chip were particularly good with a nicely balanced mocha flavour. The buttertarts, were nice and light and rich - although not runny enough to need a plate when eating them. Still, certainly the best I've tried in Ottawa.

I hope to make it to Beckta and the Black Tomato before I leave Ottawa.

Also, I have warned my friends of Kinki. At first they all seem shocked at the caution to stay away, but then each one seems to recall either themselves or someone else not feeling so great after a meal there. hmmm.....

Thanks again to everyone's recommendations!

Debbie S. aka "ozgirl"

Squirrel: "Darn nuts! How I long for a grapefruit." - Eddie Izzard

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ozgirl06, hurry with that Beckta review! My wife and I are coming up in a couple of weeks and have a reservation there. I've heard only good things, especially about the level of service. I work for a wine importing agency and I know we sell them wine and the owner (Stephen Beckta) is a former sommelier with quite a resume. For me, anyway, part of a good restaurant experience is having good choices of wine by the glass along with someone knowledgeable to serve it.

I'll let you know how our experience was in a few weeks...

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Just found out I'm eating lunch at Beckta tomorrow. I'm very excited after all of the good things that have been said about it on this board. It will be a working lunch so I can't guarantee an assessment on a wide variety of foods and/or wines.

After a disappointing meal at Empire Grill (panko crusted Tilapia with seasonal veggies) which was lukewarm and soggy by the time it was served to the table, I had a thoroughly enjoyable lunch at the Black Tomato. It was just a salad (warm pecan crusted chevre with herbed pita toasts, sauteed wild mushrooms, and baby greens) - but it was a lovely balance of ingredients, fresh, and just right for lunch. The other 5 members of my party all equally enjoyed their dishes.

Once again, I am grateful that egullet exists. Unlike my previous meals at restaurants in Ottawa, several of which have been less than stellar or even good, I was able to choose the dining destination this afternoon. It was good just a people on the board had suggested. Hooray for my fellow egulleteers! :laugh:

Debbie S. aka "ozgirl"

Squirrel: "Darn nuts! How I long for a grapefruit." - Eddie Izzard

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Oh So Good! had very boring desserts, oh so yes. Blah. Giant slabs tasting of nothing; slices of cake my friends and I didn't even bother finishing.

The desserts at Memories on the market, on the other hand, are always very nice.

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I dined at Beckta last week, but only getting to the review now.

The dining expericence in one word --"fabulous"!

There were 5 of us in our party and the hostess seated us in a separate room corded off with a curtain. It was the perfect environment to have a business lunch - spacious enough not to feel cramped, but intimate enough to talk business without your neighbours eavesdropping on your conversation.

The service was exceptional. Our waiter was consciencious, informative, and attentive without being intrusive. He was the perfect balance of being around when you needed him (even before you realized you did) and gone when you didn't.

Finally, the food. First, let me say that after a number of disappointing meals, I really needed a good dining experience. Beckta provided one and more. It was a real highlight during my month-long stay in Ottawa.

Many of us started with the "local teenage lettuces". A very nice starter salad with spiced pecans, shaved parmesan, and a honey vinaigrette. I thought the name was funny, but the salad was good nonetheless. For our entrees, I had the Saikyo Miso Salmon - Salmon with Baby Bok Choy, Green Onions, Somen Noodles and a Shiitake Mushroom Broth. The salmon was cooked perfectly. It was just opaque in colour and moist, yet not raw in any way. The "baby bok choy" was more like "grown-up bok choy" and less "baby". It was still yummy, but it was a little difficult to cut delicately or discretely. It was a little awkward in a business company setting as it became slightly similar to trying to eat spaghetti cleanly during a business interview lunch.

Just about everyone else ordered the scallops (Digby Scallops with Arugula, Brussel Sprouts, Caper Berries and Toasted Mustard Seed-Butter Sauce). Everyone raved about the scallops. Our waiter said that this was the most popular item on the menu. My boss ordered the hanger steak. He said that he thoroughly enjoyed it.

I'm afraid I can't comment on the wine list or quality of desserts as no one really drank any wine and lunch ran too late for desserts. However, I was really tempted to order the "How Do Ya Like Them Apples?" dessert. ("How do you like them Apples" (Warm Royal Gala Pave, Granny Smith Gelato, Apple Chips, Apple Jam, Apple Crisp and Mascarpone & Granola Parfait)). I am a big fan of fruit based desserts and this one sounded amazing - apples four ways... mmm, mmm, mmm. Besides, I thought the name was terribly clever.

Beckta - get a reservation immediately! Run, do not walk.

As Martha Stewart would say... "it's a good thing".

Debbie S. aka "ozgirl"

Squirrel: "Darn nuts! How I long for a grapefruit." - Eddie Izzard

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Thanks a lot for the review. It actually has me salivating in anticipation! My wife and I will be in Ottawa next weekend and are dining at Beckta on the Saturday evening. I'll be sure to post a dinner review. (Hope I remember!)

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... I had a thoroughly enjoyable lunch at the Black Tomato. It was just a salad (warm pecan crusted chevre with herbed pita toasts, sauteed wild mushrooms, and baby greens) - but it was a lovely balance of ingredients, fresh, and just right for lunch. The other 5 members of my party all equally enjoyed their dishes....

Glad to hear that. The Black Tomato is one of my favourite market haunts and is consistently good (has been so for years.)

Cheese: milk’s leap toward immortality – C.Fadiman

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One last highlight from Beckta...

I was telling my friends of this place and showing them the menu on the Beckta website. While touring around the website, I noticed that I could submit comments to the restaurant. So, I sent a raving review of my experience there. At the bottom of the screen you have the option of requesting a response from the restaurant or not. I didn't feel the need to receive one, so I clicked "no". I got one anyway 2 days later, thanking me for my comments.

I don't do this sort of thing often so I don't know if an unrequested comment back from the restaurant is the norm, but I was impressed nonetheless. A nice touch from a great place.

Debbie S. aka "ozgirl"

Squirrel: "Darn nuts! How I long for a grapefruit." - Eddie Izzard

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I just returned from a week in Ottawa, ended up at a couple of the places mentioned earlier. Comments-

L'Orée du Bois

Went here with a group of 30 on a Tuesday, which may not have been the right setup (or setting), and a couple of tour buses pulled up not too long after we arrived. Our menu had a limited choice of entrees, with pre fixe appetizers and deserts. Several items seemed too salty. Nobody had much to say about dinner afterward, though the sheer quantity left at least some of us groaning. I was pretty much underwhelmed by the experience, which I hate to say because the woman running the place (with her husband in the kitchen, I think) was really sweet and helpful. But the restaurant had been touted as special, and I didn't get it. Seemed average.

Château Laurier (Fairmont) - Wilfrid's

Wilfrid's had been recommended by a couple friends, and I was staying at the Chateau Laurier, so it made sense to get dinner there one night. It was good - well-done presentation, competent and nicely-done items, a couple good fish dishes, decent wine list. Atmosphere is oldish nice hotel, well-done within that context. Service was was also good, though it didn't have the transparency that a really excellent restaurant with a professional staff shows. It was perfect for the group of 4 workmates I was with- competent, interesting, comfortable. We had a great time.

Cafe Henri Burger

A workmate recommended this one, within walking distance of the Chateau and Byward area, across the Alexandria Bridge. It came out a notch higher than Wilfrid's- asparagus salad with perfectly cooked tiny spears in a light vinaigrette paired with a warm, delicate asparagus mousse, and a tomato coulis around halibut in a tart shell that tasted like a particularly wonderful applesauce. Both courses had a couple closed-eyes this-is-yummy moments. The service was friendly and competent. I went by myself, and would probably save this one for dinner companions closer to the foody end of the scale.

For something completely different, the Green Door is a funky all-vegetarian restaurant a few km south of city center. It's a cafe smorgasbord sort of place where you pay for your meal by the kg. The guy who recommended it claimed it was the best vegetarian food he'd ever had; though he's obviously never been to Greens in San Francisco, it was pretty OK. More than anything, it was a nice change from the heavily meat and game oriented menus at most of the other restaurants.

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