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Stalder

Where to Eat in Ottawa

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I am going to be in Ottawa for a few days for work next month and was looking for some tips on good places for lunch and dinner.

We will be staying at the Sheraton downtown, and our food interests are Japanese, Thai, and small plates dining, though if the food is good we REALLY just like to eat :))

E Gullet has been an awesome source for finding the best food other times when I travelled, so I figured I would see what ideas we come up with from here.

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I went to Domus in Ottawa over the holiday as well as jenc. Really great wine list, including some good finds like Charles Baker Riesling which paired so nicely with their smoked trout. I would definitely recommend lunch there.


Muskoka Kid

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My favourite restaurant in Ottawa is Beckta and I think many people would agree. I haven't been since they recently changed their chef, but some friends have tried it and assured me that the quality has not suffered. As mentioned by others, Domus is another excellent choice.

For Thai food, I find that there isn't too much variation in quality across Ottawa, it's all pretty good. I generally frequent Siam Bistro in the west end as it's near to me, but Siam Kitchen to the south is also very good and Khao Thai in the Byward Market has the additional bonus of good location and decor (although the portions are a little small). The only one that I would avoid is Coriander Thai because of its inconsistency and small portions.

With regards to Japanese, Ottawa is not a great place to be. The only place that I would recommend is Suisha Gardens, which has a menu that goes beyond just sushi and the done to a reasonably high standard.

Enjoy your visit!

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Here are a couple of recommendations for restaurants within the vicinity of your hotel:

Tapas/small plates:

222 Lyon located at 222 Lyon(!) - has been around for awhile and people love it.

Aroma Maze and Wine at 239 Nepean - many delicious greek small plates.

Japanese:

Genji at 175 Lisgar Ave - many people seem to like it; I personally think it is only okay.

Seafood:

Whalesbone at 430 Bank Street - features oysters

Breakfasty/quick lunch:

Scone Witch at 388 Albert Street (corner of Albert & Bay) - cute little café; very disorganized, but maybe that adds to the charm of the place

Black Cat Café at 93 Murray Street in the Byward Market - innovative cuisine; somewhat similar to Domus

Elgin Street Freehouse @ 296 Elgin Street - bistro-esque/winebar

These places are all within walking distance of between 10 - 20 minutes from your hotel.

Let us know how you get on.

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I also forgot to add Ceylonta located at Somerset and Bank (south of your hotel). It's a hole in the wall, but quite cozy and comfortable inside. Specializes in Sri Lankan cuisine - I highly recommend this place.

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My favourite restaurant in Ottawa is Beckta and I think many people would agree.  I haven't been since they recently changed their chef, but some friends have tried it and assured me that the quality has not suffered.  ....

As far as I am concerned the quality has not suffered.

I was in Ottawa for three days last week and had dinner at Beckta twice.

I have not been to Ottawa since Beckta opened so as a result, cannot comment on the results of their original chef having moved on but I certainly enjoyed my dinners prepared by the current one.

On the night of my arrival I was cold and wind blown having walked up Kent to Nepean from my hotel. I was warmly greeted by the hostess Adrienne and was taken to their bar where I had requested to be seated rather than taking up a table since I was dining solo.

I started with a glass of "Steve's Blend", a riesling chosen by sommelier/owner Stephen Beckta from wines produced by Cave Springs who are my favourite Canadian producer of this varietal.

My appetizer was an open face ravioli of braised oxtail and escargot with sundried tomatoes, a fine dice of sauteed pears and Ermite blue cheese [from the monastery in Ste Benoit-du-Lac in Quebec's Eastern Townships] fondue. They call it, perhaps not surprisingly, "Snail and Tails".

It initially seemed like a "curious" combination but was delicious. The crisp pieces of pear really added to the texture and taste. The only quibble I might have is that the ravioli was not as tender as I might prefer. I think gyoza wrappers may have been used rather than pasta.

For my main I was leaning toward the salmon or sablefish but then got "talked into" the chicken by Mark who was bartending while "putting up" with me.

I usually do not order chicken in a restaurant but this course reminded me that chicken done simply and well can be outstanding. Mind you, this was not particularly "simple". Pan roasted air-chilled chicken breast served with shaved black truffles over an oyster mushroom and squash risotto. The chicken was just done and the truffles were "intoxicating".

With the chicken I had quite a good Russian River pinot noir from the Crane Canyon Vineyard.

I really enjoyed my meal. The room itself is quite nice and early on was fairly busy for a Monday night. The staff were very friendly and accomodating in a casual but professional way.

On my last night I decided to return. I had not made a reservation but I think I was the first one in that evening and again was seated up at the bar. This time I was served by Lisa.

I decided on their house hot smoked salmon served with leeks, pea shoots, pesto and shaved bottarga over gnocchi. I did not know what bottarga was but Lisa explained it to me. Dried salted fish roe. It was quite nice and the dish itself rich. The gnocchi were nice soft "pillows" rather than the heavy kind one can be served elsewhere.

My chenin blanc, again from Cave Springs, was delicious with the salmon.

Even though I am heading out to Vancouver and Victoria next week-end I opted for the braised Pacific sablefish.

It arrived in a delicious braising liquid complemented by pitted Kalamata olives, diced preserved lemon [this was a real nice addition], red onion and saffron over what was originally a crispy lentil cake. It softened up and became more flavourful as it absorbed the liquid. The fish itself was perfectly cooked, moist, flaking easily with its customary gentle flavour.

Vancouver's C or Victoria's Brasserie L'Ecole or Cafe Brio will be hard pressed to better Ottawa's Beckta when it comes to this fish.

This evening I decided to treat myself and had their cheese course along with a glass of dessert wine, chenin blanc from Vouvray and then some nice, nutty Madeira.

I will definitely be returning to Beckta if I am back in the Ottawa area.

The other night I tried Whalebone Oyster House up on Bank Street. Where Beckta was all soft colours and clean hardwood floors, Whalebone is positively "industrial". Lots of wood and red brick. Quite small with an open kitchen.

I think this is where the chef who opened Beckta [his name escapes me] has resurfaced although he was not cooking this evening. I sat up at its bar and chatted with the owner Josh, who I undersand used to be at Toronto's Rodneys before returning home to Ottawa.

I started with a half dozen good oysters from the east coast that were served on ice with lemon and a tray of various condiments including a first for me, a vinegar like shaker of Chivas Regal. There were also a number of west coast oysters but I prefer the flinty, salty taste and texture of those from the Atlantic.

Their menu [in paper and on the chalkboard] consists of some raw offerings of salmon and tuna, five or six small plates and four or five big plates.

I started with the salmon tartare which was delicious and rather than go the big plate route, opted for fried halibut cheeks and nice green salad with chevre. The other courses I saw go to other diners looked equally good. Fresh seafood with an Asian accent.

A decent wine list with a number of good ones by the glass. I started with a Sancerre and finished off with some Chardonnay Musque from Cave Springs. This visit should have been sponsored by Cave Springs.

Three good meals all in all.

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Hi everyone -- Hoping to revive this thread to get some current recommendations for where to eat in Ottawa? My husband and I are going this coming weekend for my birthday, and would love some good eats... A range of pricing would be nice -- one fancy dinner out is fine, but it would also be nice to find the less expensive local spots you love... And please tell me where the best Chinese food is?

Thanks in advance!

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Ottawa has lots of great dining options these days. If you can get a reservation at Atelier for the period when you'll be there, you must do so. I also really enjoy Murray Street (for brunch or dinner), Courtyard (same), Wellington Gastropub and Whalesbone. Back Lane Cafe was solid on my one visit there, and very hospitable (they accommodated us on a packed evening even though there was a mix-up with our reservation). Beckta and Eighteen have good reputations, though I've not been to either. It's worth heading out to Hintonburg to visit Hintonburger.

As far as I can tell, there's no point seeking out Chinese food in Ottawa.


Matthew Kayahara

Kayahara.ca

@mtkayahara

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I agree with Atelier. The chef there won the Gold Medal Plates this year. An alternative would be Juniper Restaurant and Wine Bar. If you are looking for an inexpensive Asian restaurant, a particular favourite of ours is Fuschian, on Somerset Street which is in the heart of Chinatown (fast becoming Vietnamesetown). Let's us know where you end up!

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Thanks for the recommendations... Elsie -- Is there a good Vietnamese place you'd recommend?

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My brother has been to Beckta a couple of times and had the tasting menu. He raved about it.

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Emily, Fuschian is mostly Vietnamese, with a smattering of Chinese and Thai dishes. For example, if you want Pho, they have a good choice. Typical of these places, should you go, be prepared to not get served at the same time. Food is served as it cooked. The food there is delicious, the atmosphere casual. It is an unpretentious sort of place. Atelier has a set menu of tasting plates and you don't get to pick and choose. Rather, you get what is being served. There is room for about 30 patrons and they all get the same thing. Price is usually $95 a person not including taxes & tip. They do have wonderful food, and it is worth the splurge. Hope this helps.

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Hi all --

Thanks again for the recommendations! Several of the places recommended in this thread were too pricey for me, but my husband and I did go to out to Fuschian on Saturday. Fuschian was great -- the vietnamese spring rolls were the best I've ever had, my spicy sate noodle soup was to die for, and his Chicken and Asparagus in black bean sauce was fresh and tasty.

On Friday we went to Bistro St. Jacques -- a french restaurant in Le Gatineau, as I was in the mood for mussels. The food and service were very good, though not gasp-inducingly so. Nonetheless, we had a lovely meal there. Other highlights were Bread and Son's on Bank Street -- Their puff pastry is probably the best I've ever had, which made for amazing cheese borek's (puff pastry, filled with feta, topped with sesame seeds and caraway seeds) and palmiers. And their chocolate hazelnut cookies were fantastic.

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Emily, I'm so glad you enjoyed Fuschian. I have eaten at Bistro St. Jacques and it is as you say - solid, good food. I have heard good things of Bread & Son so will have to make a point of trying some of their goodies.

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