Posts tagged Ottawa
Posts tagged Ottawa
Did anyone else in eastern Ontario/Ottawa give in to firing up your BBQ last night? With the temperature finally rising just above freezing, the husband and I couldn’t resist breaking out our BBQ.
We didn’t have any fresh meat on hand, so instead we grilled up a whole bunch of veggies (potatoes, broccoli, bell peppers and mushrooms) and served them over a bed of brown rice with some feta cheese. Yum! You just can’t beat that grilled flavour!
Lunch at A Thing for Chocolate
I’m lucky to work near the very up and coming neighbourhood (or perhaps it has already arrived?) of Hintonburg. It seems like there is always a new restaurant or shop that is on the verge of opening up, so I always have lots to explore!
Most recently, I noticed a little shop with a catchy name with an ‘opening soon’ sign on it’s doors: A Thing for Chocolate. With a name like that, I was intrigued!
A friend from work and I decided to check it out one day during our lunch hour. I had done a little bit of research online to try and find out exactly what we might find, and I was delighted when I discovered that this new little cafe would be serving crepes, both of the sweet and the savoury variety.
I wanted to try a savoury crepe for my first visit, so I chose the English crepe, which is filled with scrambled eggs, bacon, fresh tomato, cheddar cheese and Dijon mustard. Served with a side of greens drizzled lightly with a balsamic vinaigrette, this was one amazing crepe: light and fluffy, and filled with just the right amount of ingredients. My friend had the house special (sweet) crepe, which comes filled with your choice of fruit (strawberries, bananas, blackberries, blueberries - or all of the above!) and their in-house made chocolate spread, either in milk or dark chocolate. She loved it! The chocolate is of the highest quality, and the fruits were incredibly fresh.
I couldn’t resist trying one of their Death by Chocolate brownies (I mean, come on!) and I was not disappointed. This is a brownie at its best with a crisp top layer and a dense, rich inner layer. To help cut some of the sweetness, I ordered a cappuccino, which the owner, Omar Fares, makes on the strong side, which is absolutely perfect to me!
Overall, this is a great little spot. There is, however, limited seating, so I wouldn’t recommend going with a big group. The service, while good, is relaxed, so be careful if you’re tight for time. But if you have a free afternoon, it would be a great spot to relax in their big, comfy chairs and sip coffee and eat chocolate!
The owner loves to chat and is incredibly friendly and personable, which I loved. It is so invigorating to see the passion in an owner’s eyes and to hear it in his voice - he wants to be there and is excited to share his passion for excellent chocolate, crepes and coffee with his customers. I can’t wait to return: next time, obviously I’ll have a sweet crepe!
Another Flying Banzini conquest: the meatloaf sandwich
As I have mentioned before, I’m slowly making my way through the Flying Banzini’s sandwich menu bite by delicious bite. It has been one tasty adventure after another so far!
When the Flying Banzini changed their menu a few months ago, I was excited about the new soft bun sandwich options, mostly the meatloaf sandwich. Meatloaf on a sandwich! It made my mouth water with delight just thinking about it. So when I finally sat down to sink my teeth into this hearty sandwich, I could barely contain my enthusiasm. A giant (and I mean GIANT) slice of Chef Nico’s meatloaf comes piled upon one of one of the Flying Banzini’s in-house made soft buns, with your choice of toppings (I chose the chipotle ketchup at the recommendation of my server and added fresh greens and sliced tomato). This sandwich was perfect - it was a monster of a lunch size-wise (let’s just say that I didn’t need to eat dinner that night) and worth every bite and penny. Chef Nico’s meatloaf is tender, not too salty and oh-so-meaty. The chipotle ketchup added a delightful but not too spicy kick. Overall, this has been my favourite Flying Banzini sandwich so far!
Thailicious - a new food truck in Ottawa
Ottawa has some great thai food restaurants, so I was a little surprised when I learned that there would be a thai food truck joining Ottawa’s raft of new food trucks this year. What made me change my mind was when I learned of the location: the truck would make its home in Stiittsville, which meant it was nice and close to me! As well, there aren’t really any great thai food restaurants in the far west end of Ottawa, so this truck would be a welcome addition.
After reviewing Thailicious’ menu, I knew I had to try the mango salad. The ever raging winter that we have been experiencing this year has made me crave fresh, light meals lately, and my mouth started to water just thinking of all of that fresh mango. I also decided to try their pad thai, because, how can you not? Both dishes were delicious! The mango salad was everything I’d hoped it would be: fresh, bright in flavour, and tangy from the spicy lime dressing. The pad thai, to which I also added chicken, was amazing. The noodles and chicken were tender, the sauce silky, and the peanuts added a perfect crunch for a textural adventure for the tongue!
Both the mango salad and the pad thai were priced fairly for the portion size in my opinion, but it didn’t come cheap at $7 for the salad and $12 for the pad thai (I paid an extra $2 to add chicken).
I definitely hope to try more of the menu items at Thailicious in the coming months and as the weather warms up. I think that this truck has great potential, and I wish them success with their business!
Dinner at El Camino
It took me a long time to finally get my butt (and my appetite!) to El Camino to try the tacos that everyone has been raving about. I was sorry I waited so long!
El Camino is brought to you by Chef Matthew Carmichael, someone who has been making waves in the Ottawa restaurant scene for many years now. I first tasted his delicious talents at Sidedoor (see here), so I already knew I’d be a fan of El Camino.
I managed to only snap a photo of the plate of tacos I shared with some friends, but I also tried a few other items at El Camino. I started off the night with one of their cocktails: the pina colada. But this wasn’t your ordinary blender version, it was a silky, modern take on the classic drink with coconut crème, coconut water, agave nectar, lemon, pineapple juice and 2 oz cachaça rum. Garnished with a hunk of coconut, this was one of the best pina coladas I’ve ever had. But it didn’t come cheap at $15!
Before digging into the main event, the tacos, I tried a few of El Camino’s other menu items, including their in-house salsa, which was incredibly smoky and flavourful and comes served with tortilla chips. I also tried the tuna tartare crispy taco with queso and iceberg lettuce, which was a beautifully presented dish jam packed with fresh tuna. I think it was my favourite of the night! Last but not least, I tried three different kinds of tacos: the ox tongue, the pork, and the crispy fish. All three were pretty mind-blowing, but I have to say that the ox tongue was a new experience for me. It was very smoky and rich, and I loved every bite!
All in all, El Camino was a fantastic experience. Another great spot in Ottawa for excellent food and ambiance!
A lovely cappuccino on a rainy day - at Art-is-in Bakery.
Another lunch at the Flying Banzini (trying their online ordering system)
I was a bit short on time during the lunch hour one recent day, so I decided to put their take-out/online ordering system to the test. It is a pretty detailed system that asks you to spell out exactly what you want right down to specific sandwich toppings and condiments. I placed my order, and, at my designated pick-up time, I arrived at the restaurant. It was a success! My order was ready to go, I simply had to pay and collect my yummy sandwich. I’ll definitely use their system again in the future when I need to get in and out quickly!
I am currently making my way through the Flying Banzini’s soft bun sandwich menu, so on that day, I went for the porchetta. Described on their menu as “marinated pork loin stuffed with Luciano’s sweet Italian sausage, fennel seeds, sweet chilies, sage and sea salt, wrapped in bacon and slow roasted,” this sandwich was incredible. So many amazing flavours in each and every bite! I added fresh tomato and spinach as toppings as well as Major Craig’s mango chutney as my choice of sauce. This is one beast of a sandwich, so come with an appetite! I think the porchetta has been my favourite of the Flying Banzini’s soft bun sandwiches so far, but I’ve still got a few to go before I make any final decisions! haha
What to do with wintertime out-of-town guests? Take them to Winterlude, of course!
Grand opening of Panera Bread in Ottawa!
The husband and I visited Panera Bread last night for it’s grand opening in Ottawa. This is the very first location in our city, so we were very excited to see how it compared to the U.S. locations that we have visited over the years.
When we arrived, the line up was almost out the door! But the restaurant itself seemed less busy; most of the tables were unoccupied. I think most people were taking their food to go.
Our wait wasn’t too long, and we didn’t mind since we were just so happy to not have to drive over 2 hours to our nearest location. The husband ordered his tried and true favourite Panera meal, the bacon turkey bravo sandwich with the mac and cheese for his side. I opted to try two items that I have never tried, the Napa almond chicken salad sandwich and one of their brand new salads, the Mediterranean shrimp couscous salad. Both were delightful! The salad was incredibly fresh, with a mixture of spinach and romaine, and topped with lemon balsamic dressing, Panera’s “signature couscous blend,” sundried tomatoes, feta, olives and shrimp. I would order both again in a hearbeat!
We talked with a few of the employees both while waiting in line and while dining, and they explained that Panera is taking a new approach in their restaurants in terms of how the food is delivered. If you’re familiar with Panera’s current operating standard, you will know that, as the customer, you place your order at the cash, and you’re given a buzzer that advises you when you’re food is ready for pick up at the pick up counter. Panera’s new model (which they told us that they would soon be rolling out in their U.S. and all other restaurants) is that, after the customer orders, they are still given a buzzer and can go and sit down at a table (if dining in), and the food will be delivered by an employee right to your table. We were told that Panera feels this is what the customer wants and it will provide a more enjoyable experience. It also allows them to make a few subtle changes to the way they serve their food, such as serving the sandwiches on real porcelain/ceramic plates instead of the lightweight melamine plates.
We were pleased with the service: our food came very quickly and there was no confusion or mix-ups with our order. We are both looking forward to enjoying everything Panera has to offer, now close to home!
A latte at Illume Espresso Bar
Prior to meeting my friends for dinner one recent evening, I finally took the opportunity to visit Ilume Espresso Bar, a coffee shop with a clean, modern vibe on Wellington Street West.
They also of course have a full line up of espresso-based drinks, and some fun ones to boot! I was wooed by their nutella latte, and it did not disappoint! I asked my barista for a double shot of espresso to balance some of the sweetness of the rest of the latte. The drink was pure heaven! The latte art was pretty sweet too.
The atmosphere of the cafe was fantastic; it had a cool vibe, with music playing softly in the background and the work of local artists lining the walls. I sat and read my book and enjoyed every last sip of my latte!
Lunch at Absinthe (another contribution from the husband)
The husband has been enjoying quite a few lunches out lately, and I was very impressed by his choice for his recent outing to Absinthe, one of my favourite restaurants in Ottawa.
Being a bit of a picky eater, the husband has what you’d call a more simple palate, but he is impressing me lately with his eagerness to try new things. So when he told me he had ordered the beef stroganoff for lunch at Absinthe, my jaw dropped!
Described on Absinthe’s menu as sauteed beef tenderloin with mushrooms and sour cream in a dill and brandy sauce, served over fresh spätzle, the husband said it was absolutely delicious! This was his first time having spätzle, which is basically just like egg noodles, and he loved it.
So when will it be my turn to lunch at Absinthe? Soon, I hope!
Lunch at Art-is-in Bakery
The husband and I were lucky enough to get out a little early from work on New Year’s Eve this year, so we took advantage of the rare occasion of having our car at work to go to Art-is-in Bakery for lunch.
I was determined to try something new (how many times can one eat their amazing clam chowder? Many times, it seems), so I ordered the pulled pork sandwich, which was a new lunch item (well, new to me since the last time I had been there). Served on a bun instead of Art-is-in’s bread, this sandwich was piled high with tender and juicy pulled pork, fresh slaw, arugula and a spicy jalapeno cream cheese. It was pretty spicy for a spice wimp like me, but it was so tasty I couldn’t stop eating it. It was very different than any other of Art-is-in’s sandwiches that I’ve tried, but it was a welcome and delicious change.
The husband went all out and ordered the pulled pork mac and cheese, This rich concoction is a mixture of pulled pork, cheesy pasta, buttery croissant croutons, caramelized onions and tomato pesto. It is a perfect example of Art-is-in’s excellence at decadence!
We were too full to even contemplate dessert, so we had to stare longingly and wave goodbye to Art-is-in’s delightful selection of baked goodies..but there is always next time.
Lunch at Anthony’s (an entry care of the husband!)
So it seems I may be turning my husband into a food blogger! More and more he will take photos of his dining outings and lunches to share with me, and I love it!
He recently lunched at Anthony’s, a wood-fired pizza joint in Ottawa’s trendy Hintonburg/Wellington West neighbourhood. As most of you may remember, pizza is probably my husband’s favourite food of all time, so Anthony’s is his kind of restaurant.
The husband and I have actually dined at Anthony’s once before (see here), and we enjoyed it tremendously. We shared a pizza that time, so for his lunch, the husband had his choice of pizza turned into a calzone, which Anthony’s can do with any of their pizzas. Stuffed to the brim with ricotta, roasted red pepper, sausage and mozzarella, this was one delicious calzone! The husband said he ate every last bite and could have had more. He loved the light but dense crust and the extra tomato sauce for dipping on the side.
This is just one of the many incredible dishes that I shared with a few friends tonight at Supply and Demand. Beautiful, fresh raw albacore tuna crudo with lemon, truffle oil, puffed rice and cilantro. I could eat this every day for the rest of my life.
Product review: Village Buns cinnamon buns
Over the Christmas holidays, the husband and I indulged in a few treats, one of them being Village Buns cinnamon buns. Available in the frozen, take-home food section at one of my favourite Ottawa food shops, Thyme and Again, I had seen these cinnamon buns on numerous occasions but had not purchased them. I finally gave in to my addiction to cinnamon and brought them home to try!
The buns come with simple directions on how to thaw, cook and frost the buns. I followed the directions and they turned out perfectly! We were so eager to eat them that I didn’t get the chance to make icing with which to top them, but recipes are available on the Village Buns website here.
If you’re looking for an easy, tasty way to serve cinnamon rolls to family or guests without all the work, these are for you! I would buy these again and would recommend them if you’re feeling too lazy to make your own (like me! haha).