A Conversation for Ottawa, Ontario, Canada

Restaurants worth eating at!

Post 1


I just read this - I live in Ottawa. I like to eat good food, although I am not a large person. Quality is far more important than quality - After all you are what you eat.

Mexicali Rosas is probably not my favourite place to eat here. It is certainly not Mexican food (Mexican cuisine is a highly varied and complex subject just as is Italian or French - If you think Chef Boyardee spaghetti is Italian cuisine then you have some idea about comparing Tex-Mex etc. to what is really Mexican food). As Mexico is a large country with a wide variety of cultures and influences the cuisine varies greatly across the country - none of it resembles much what is served at Mexicali Rosas' type places. Anyway, not to put them down they do what they do, and I wish them the success they deserve - Just do not confuse authentic cuisine with something else.

There are a few good restaurants in Ottawa (few rather than many). Unfortunately most seem to be the sort of typical bar/restaurant type thing you would find anywhere in strip-mall USA - No idea of what good service is ("Hi my name is so-and-so, I am your waitperson tonight. Would you like to spit out your mouthful of food to respond to my minute-by minute questions because I have no idea when to show up and do something to enhance or maintain your dining experience" kind of thing), serve some beer in pitchers, have no idea how to serve wine or what to serve, and often no idea how to cook.

Fortunately, there are many more as the city grows, and is becoming more (or is becoming) cosmopolitan.

Some I have Noticed:

The Juniper - On Wellington. They serve what could be best described as Canadian International food I guess. It is unique, and always good. They have a good wine list. I took an Italian gourmet/gourmand for a business dinner there. He was thrilled to have Canadian food, Canadian wine, and a good Italian Grappa. It impressed him, as it does me. It is not expensive, and the menu always changes. The decor looks like something from this century, and like somebody actually thought about it - just like in a city in Europe or LAtin America!

Ichibei - On Bank. One of the few Japanese restaurants here. This is a cosy place, and my favourite for a Sushi craving.

Suisha Gardens/ Kaedeya - Another Japanese place. I like the liitle shop Kaedaya open during business hours on Slater - They will sell you excellent sushi for lunch, and they sell a bunch of stuff to make your own at home.

Kamal's - On bank in the Glebe - They make excellent Lebanese food. They sell pita sandwiches at lunch time. They are awesome.

Ashtar - On Sparks - best place for a quick Shawarma sandwich. Service with more than just a smile.

Northern 2 - On Somerset in the Chinese quarter. Small place that serves Northern Chinese food. It is delicious, and tastes probably just like grandma made (if my granny was from Northern China) - In fact they will cook it to order just behind the cash register. This is real Chinese food, and the service is wonderful. It is delicious (I am getting hungry... time to go).

There are a bunch more. Some of the popular names in the Bymard market area are decent - Haveli's Indian food for example. However the bar/restaurant type deals are just that. Otherwise you have to cross the river to Quebec to find what would be considered good restaurants.

Restaurants worth eating at!

Post 2


I also live in the "new city of Ottawa" and, although I have not had the chance to visit any of the aforementioned restaurants, I can reccommend a few good ones towards Kanata, check the bus schedules for one of the many buses heading that way. In the Kanata Centrum there is a Kelsey's which has really good broccoli-cheddar soup and other stuff, plus the required fast food joints and a movie theatre. A little bit before that there is a little spot with an East Side Marios (good) and Swiss Chalet (but don't expect Swiis food there). Just my country bumpkin suggestions!

Restaurants worth eating at!

Post 3


You should try making the pilgrimage and coming into the city sometime. In my opinion the stuff in Kanata is all the usual overcooked, salty/fatty, same old stuff, bar type food thing, I feel like I could be anywhere in small-town USA - East Side Marios, MacDonalds, Red Lobster, Hooters etc. etc. etc. Swiss Chalet, by the way, is a very good deal - it is food - ie. chicken and potatoes. If I need to get a roasted chicken to take home, theirs is very good, tastes good - and ready to eat. There are better ways to enjoy food...

Even better, try roaming around just over the river in Quebec, you might find a few suprises - you have to try however.

Drive 2 hours more and you will enter Montreal - It is easy to find a good place to eat there blindfolded - just wander around St. Laurent or St. Denis and look for a place that looks like it has tables, chairs, and decor from the current century, or even the last one. Something harder to find in Ottawa - although it's getting better.

Have you tried going to Moulin de Provence - the big cafe/bakery deal at the North end of the Byward market building. THe bread there is excellent - we stock up there a couple of times a week. It is about the only place I have seen here that makes honest cakes. They also have good lunches, pies and delicatessen - They don't sell bad stuff and it is not expensive.

We stumbled into this place "Gelato" on Bank in the Glebe - They sell pretty decent ice cream. I walked in there and had to blink it was rather unlike Ottawa, and rather like being in a major city in the 20th or 21st century - Like London or New York. Maybe there is a space-time discontinuum in the heart of the Glebe.

Restaurants worth eating at!

Post 4

Indigo Starblaster

We just moved to Ottawa last month (from Toronto). Temporarily homeless as we are, we've been eating out a lot. Here's what we've found worth mentioning so far:

Luna (on Queen Street between Elgin and Metcalfe): pretty expensive but really good. The menu changes every full moon. We've eaten during their "Indian" month and their "Tuscan" month. The food tends to be "influenced by" the region of the month, and is not necessarily traditional.

Festival Japan (on Kent Street near Slater): decent sushi and miso soup. We haven't tried their dinner menu.

The Ale House (Rideau and William): we actually ate here when it was known as "Coffee Revolution" -- great breakfast food, and the best cafe au lait I've ever had. It's the same management, so hopefully the quality of the food will not have changed.

The French Baker (in the Market, I think on Murray Street): this is a bakery which serves breakfast, brunch and lunch in the back. The menu is small but the food is very tasty and generally healthy (each of the items we saw included a salad).

The Blue Cactus Cafe (in the Market): hearty tex-mex fare. Big portions, dependable quality.

The Mayflower Pub and Cafe (on Elgin near Somerset): excellent expresso milkshakes (piled high with whipped cream) and decent enough pub fare otherwise.

Dunn's Deli(on Elgin -- around same general area as the Mayflower): good smoked meat sandwiches, eggs benedict, etc.

Fresco Bistro Italia (on Elgin): the best Italian food we've had in Ottawa so far (though not as good as Grazie's in Toronto) -- noodles al dente and shrimp cooked just right. A little pricey.

Elgin Street Diner (on Elgin): great chocolate milkshakes, fair if limited diner menu otherwise (sandwiches, no hot dishes).

Cafe Colonnade (at Metcalfe and Colonnade): very good, if quite heavy, pizza. Moderately priced.

Grillman's (Colonnade Road in Nepean, Ontario): this restaurant is located on the corner of interior design country -- this whole area is industrial park for kitchen stores, flooring stores, bedroom furniture stores, etc. Best ribs we've ever had.

We've also eaten at a couple of bistros in Hull, Quebec, just over the bridge -- Le Tartuffe, Bistro 1908 -- and they were very good, if very expensive.

We're looking forward to exploring more restaurants in the Market, in the Glebe, and in Chinatown (a friend did take us to a great Chinese restaurant on Bronson, but I can't remember what it's called). These seem to be the most promising areas. (Of course, we're also looking forward to having a place of our own so we can start cooking for ourselves again. Eating out all the time is deadly on the pocketbook.)

Restaurants worth eating at!

Post 5


Now is the time to get a kitchen. As you probably know the Byward market is in full force. The other market you have to go to is the Parkdale market on Parkdale and Wellington. I find it is better sometimes for fruit - and cheaper. I like to stock up on what's good at the weekends, then cook it - fresh squash and onions on the BBQ, for example. Yesterday got a bunch of baby squash amongst other things (like corn) at the Byward Market, so with suddenly a Mexican squash and pork stew in mind, I popped into Saslove's butcher - they cut me some pork shoulder to order - Then I had to pick up some lamb chops for the BBQ - They and some other local butchers sell real Canadian lamb that is simply the best - The imported lamb tastes like mutton.

Near Parkdale on Wellington (just past Holland) is also the Ottawa Bagel Shop - The bagels are simply perfect, you can buy them as they come out the wood burning oven. Grab a dozen after picking up stuff at the market, or they can serve you an excellent bagel sandwich.

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