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Ottawa


Jason Perlow
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  • 2 weeks later...

My partner-in-eating and I had a good visit to Ottawa last summer. In fact, we ate at two restaurants that made it to our "Top Ten of 2001" list.

"Domus", which is not far from the Byward Market area had meticulously prepared food with the freshest of regional ingredients. I recall a fresh pea soup that was the essence of green.

A little north of Hull on #105 is Chelsea PQ and the restaurant "Les Fougeres" .They served the best duck confit I've ever had - bar none. The restaurant is charming and there's a garden that you're welcome to wander through. Great wine list too. It's definitely worth the drive to get there.

Bon Appetit,

Kathy

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  • 4 weeks later...

This is my first post on this board.  Fat Guy's first Canada article appeared in the Ottawa Citizen this morning, so the question about Ottawa is timely!

Others have suggested Domus and Les Fougeres: Both excellent.  Signatures and Baccarat are also great, but very pricey and showy.

There are a lot of great bistro-type places that have mains in the $15 to $20 (Cdn) range.  Tartuffe and Le Sans Pareil in Hull are great.  For Italian, Fratelli on Bank is stylish, and Trattoria Zingaro on Beechwood is amazing.  Everyone I have sent or taken to Zingaro has been blown away.

Enjoy!

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  • 4 weeks later...

Gourmando: Welcome!

I'll add mine to the chorus of Domus cheers. The food is terrific. It's very casual, and reminded me of Eli Zabar's E.A.T. here in New York. So we're not talking about a fine-dining experience on the service or decor front. It's really a cafe in a kitchenwares store. The food is top notch, though. I think I mentioned some specific dishes I liked in my report on canada.com

In addition, you need to try two local favorite fast foods: Poutine (fries with gravy and curd cheese, available from a number of trucks parked around the main pedestrian mall), and Beavertails, which are like big churros.

Hull, the city in Quebec on the other side of the river from Ottawa, is only one minute away by car or bus or taxi, and is walkable as well. There are a whole mess of fine French restaurants over there, or so I hear.

Will you have time for any cultural attractions? There are a couple of excellent museums there. Mrs. Fat-Guy went to several and can walk you through those choices if you're interested.

Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

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I'll add mine to the chorus of Domus cheers. The food is terrific. It's very casual, and reminded me of Eli Zabar's E.A.T. here in New York. So we're not talking about a fine-dining experience on the service or decor front. It's really a cafe in a kitchenwares store.

I'd say the food is very memorable of food had elsewhere. As with any of the better restaurants in Ottawa. :sad: At best, the food is good because it's fresh, prepared well. Excellence is another matter.

There are many bistro and cafe styled places. You can eat something for $20 or so. If that's what you want. :blink:

"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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Jinmyo, you seem uncharacteristically grouchy on this issue. :raz: Is it really all that bad? What about restaurants in Hull?

Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

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Have you made your visit to Ottawa yet Jason?

I'm curious about the outcome of your dining adventures there. Your comments would be welcome.

Cheers,

kathy

Leaving on Wednesday. I'm still expecting Fat Guy to draft me a list of places to go. :biggrin:

Jason Perlow

Co-Founder, The Society for Culinary Arts & Letters

offthebroiler.com - Food Blog | View my food photos on Instagram

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I got a couple of good lists from the guys who handle the food section at the Ottawa Citizen newspaper, but they're trapped in my laptop. I hope to liberate them tomorrow and share them with you, Master. :raz:

Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

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I'm glad that Fat Guy liked Domus; it really is good.

Jason, your arrival is timed to coincide with some disruption in downtown Ottawa, where protesters are focusing their demonstrations against the G8 meeting in Alberta. Domus is in the market area, which may be a little busy due to the protests. Another great restaurant in the market area is Clair de Lune.

I don't think that Fat Guy made it to Les Fougeres while he was here, but you should go. I think it is one of the best restaurants our country has to offer, and it specializes in truly regional "Canadian" cuisine. It is also located in a pretty house north of Ottawa in the Gatineau River valley. You can visit their website at www.fougeres.com.

Enjoy your visit; I look forward to your impressions. From the "Fat Guy Eats Canada" series, he seemed to like Ottawa, but the report was cursory. I had the impression that he was in a hurry to get to Montreal, which is certainly wonderful in its own right, but I think that he missed some gems that our capital city has to offer.

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Jason, your arrival is timed to coincide with some disruption in downtown Ottawa, where protesters are focusing their demonstrations against the G8 meeting in Alberta

f@#%^&g lovely.

Jason Perlow

Co-Founder, The Society for Culinary Arts & Letters

offthebroiler.com - Food Blog | View my food photos on Instagram

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So the weather in Ottawa over Canada Day weekend was BEAUTIFUL. High 70's, low 80's. The protesters were pretty much rained out on wednesday.

Ottawa is a really fun city and most definitely has good restaurants if you know where to find them -- By far, most of the best restaurant action appears to be centered around the "Market" area, which is a touristy sort of area that is similar to South Street Seaport in NYC or Fisherman's Wharf in San Francisco. The two fine restaurants I went to were in this area.

Vittoria Trattoria on Willam Street is a great place to get top notch pasta dishes, and if youre a lone diner the bar is a great place to be because the bartenders are friendly, really know the menu and are VERY knowledgeable about their wine and spirits. If Ivan is on duty, and you are a lone diner, you'll want him to take care of you at the bar. They've got a great selection of high-end spirits as well as lots of good Canadian, European and Californian wines on the menu (and by the glass) that they'll help you select with whatever you want to eat. I had the house Reisling -- a Canadian one, which had a beattiful apricoty bouquet, and had a racy spicyness and perfect acidity level that went great with my seafood pasta dish -- defintiely on par with any Alsatian Reisling I haver have had, although a bit high on the alcohol. But Canada most definitely deserves to be on the wine map.

Vittoria has a very large and expansive menu, and they have anything you could possibly want from a trattoria-tpe restaurant, but I decided to go with the basics. For an appetizer I ordered the bruschetta, which had finely chopped fresh tomatoes on it, lots of garlic, good olive oil and was served on slices of toasted crusty french bread. Perfect. The soup was a home made minestrone, not too heavy, pastaless, with lots of fresh veggies in it and had a strong plum tomato and veggie stock flavor. My main dish, a fettucine marinara with shrimp and scallops (the little scallops) was excellent -- the shrimp was perfectly cooked, the scallops were plentiful and not at all tinny tasting like a lot of american bay scallops are. The marinara was defintiely home made and clinged to the pasta perfectly, and had a great zing to it. The pasta, which might have been fresh, was cooked perfectly al dente. My dessert was truly a happy ending -- a perfectly executed creme brulee, with a nice crisp and properly burned crust, with a sinful custard cream underneath. Its such a simple dessert, and yet so few american restaurants do it well. I had this with a warmed XO calvados -- I cant think of a better way to end a meal.

My other really positive dining experience in Ottawa is also near the Market on York street -- a high-end asian/fusion sushi restaurant called KINKI. I sat at the sushi bar -- this place is a great place to go to see Ottawa's beautiful people, in particular the restaurant is popular with the dancers who work at a large classy strip club next door, who made intereresting dinner conversation.

I started with a spicy tuna roll (tuna was clean tasting and delicous, spicy mayo did not overwhelm and complimented it well) and something called a Black Pearl roll, which had braised scallops in it combined with tempura flakes, avocado, and a few other things, rolled in black sesame seeds -- it was devine. I had these with a really good sweet unfiltered sake - they have about 8 or so high end sakes on their list, ranging from 8-20 CDN a glass. I think I had a 10 dollar one. For my main dish I had a curry chicken udon noodle bowl -- very spicy, with strong flavors of lemongrass and had lots of peices of white meat chicken in it. Defintiely hit the spot.

Ottawa is also blessed with lots of little eateries, most of which unfortuantely I couldnt go to during the day. Lebanese food is definitely abundant in the city, and if you want a good quick and cheap lunch, I'd definitely go with one of the many local shwarma/donair places you'll find. I had never had a smoked meat sandwich before, but if you are going to have one, you'll want to try one of the two Dunn's Smoked Meat locations or Biggs (where I had mine). Biggs is on Rideau street right across from the main LCBO (Liquor Control Board of Ontario, the only place you can buy liquor and wines, as the industry is state run) so if you are looking to bring back some good icewine and canadian whiskey, go to Biggs for their smoked meat (which is a massively huge sandwich and comes in two sizes, I had the small one) and then hit the main LCBO across the street afterwards. A smoked meat is like a NY-style deli corned beef sandwich, but the spice mixture is a little different. I certainly am biased towards the NY style one but I wasnt disappointed in the Canadian version.

Jason Perlow

Co-Founder, The Society for Culinary Arts & Letters

offthebroiler.com - Food Blog | View my food photos on Instagram

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I'm glad the protesters didn't muck up your visit to our fair city, and the weather was just about perfect, too!

I'm pleased to hear a good report about Vittoria Trattoria, but the Byward Market is just scratching the surface of the wonderful choice of restaurants that we have in this city. I would say by far that "most of the best restaurant action" is outside the market, rather than inside. Kinki is very new; somewhat ironic that you found Kinki to be a favourite of the ladies from BareFax! Hope it holds up over time.

As for smoked meat, there is nothing in Ottawa that compares with Schwartz's in Montreal. Of course, there is nothing else in Montreal that compares with Schwartz's either! Biggs is just O.K.; I would much prefer Nate's up the street, or Dunn's on Elgin or Bank.

As a Canadian travelling in the States, I am always dismayed at how little bang I get for my measley Canadian buck; it must be wonderful for Americans travelling here to see how far your dollar will go for good food and wine in our country! Ottawa has, in the past, had a bad reputation for restaurants, but in the last 10 years, a brilliant restaurant scene has flourished in the entire National Capital Region, which includes Ottawa in Ontario, and the Hull/Gatineau region in Quebec. As you noted, you just have to know where to find the good ones.

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"Of course, there is nothing else in Montreal that compares with Schwartz's either"

Whoa! I'm not going to let that one slide by.

Schwartz's is good fun but really...what's all the fuss about. I'm a born and bred Montrealer who has only been there once -- with a visiting food writer from New York. You want something comparable -- or better -- than Schwartz's, try the Snowdon Deli.

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I have been to Snowdon, and it is very good, but I find that the smoked meat is very much like Ben's or Dunn's (which I understand is no longer in Montreal). There are two things that set Schwartz's apart, IMHO: The meat is very different in both flavour and texture, and the atmosphere is truly unique. Having said that, Snowdon is also a favourite stop on the way home to Ottawa from Montreal.

I know that this is an insoluble point, and as a mere Ottawan, I hardly even have standing to comment, but let's agree that further testing at both Snowdon and Schwartz's is warranted!

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Lesley, if Schwartz's is nothing to fuss over about, why did you put this restaurant in your new Flavourville book??? BTW, I fully agree what you wrote here, Snowdon Deli's smoked meat is better. I've been telling people for many many years, that Snowdon Deli has the best smoked meat in Montreal. Until Steven Shaw agreed with me several years ago, I thought I was the only one with this opinion. Schwartz's steaks are pretty good(in the Flavourville book, you cite for Schwartz's their smoked meat & steaks).

For Gourmando, Snowdon Deli has two kinds of Montreal smoked meat(Old Fashioned & regular). To get Old Fashioned smoked meat you have to request it (regular is what is served, if a person only asks for smoked meat). I even find Snowdon Deli's regular smoked meat better than Schwartz's smoked meat. Dunn's did close for several years in Montreal, after being opened for many decades(their Ottawa location stayed open all this time). While their strawberry cheesecake commercial operation for retailers/restaurants never closed. However close to two years ago, they re-opened at a different location on St. Catherine street. Their current Montreal smoked meat is better than previously, with a new recipe.

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Thanks, Steve, for the tip about old fashioned smoked meat at Snowdon! I'll definitely give it a try. I have to agree with Lesley about the atmosphere, though. Could use a little cheering up! Maybe a take-out sandwich on the side of Mount Royal is the answer... :cool:

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