Posts tagged restaurant
Posts tagged restaurant
Brunch at the Scone Witch
Does it ever happen to you that a restaurant up and moves and you have no idea about it until you just happen to stumble upon the new location completely unintended? Well that happened to me recently as I stumbled upon the new location of the Scone Witch while taking some out of town guests down to Winterlude a few weeks ago.
Granted it had been some time (well, a very long time) since I’d been to the Scone Witch’s location on Albert Street, but in all of my internet reading about the food scene in Ottawa, I had not heard of it’s move to Elgin Street to a beautiful new (and HUGE) space.
So it was a few Sundays later when I met some friends to give it a try. I had also never been to the Scone Witch for weekend brunch, so it was a double shot of new for me.
Their brunch menu is quite small, but just go with it: you’re there for the delicious scones anyway! It is also kind of pricey, but worth it. I ordered the breakfast plate, which comes with scrambled eggs and your choice of topping (I chose smoked salmon, of course), fruit, salad, a scone of your choice and jam (or clotted cream AND jam for a little extra). I also ordered the largest cappuccino they could make for me to accompany my breakfast, which was fantastic. All in all, a great brunch: light and delicious. I went with one of my favourite of their scones, the oatmeal, with wild blueberry jam. It was heavenly.
I will definitely be back to the Scone Witch’s new location - it is bright, airy and much larger (read: more seating, less chaotic) than their Albert Street location, all which makes for a much more relaxing and enjoyable experience. Plus, there’s no better spot to get a scone in Ottawa!
Breakfast at Gabriel Pizza
When you have company visiting for the weekend, I always find that it is less stressful on everyone to just go out to eat, especially for breakfast. People have such different routines when it comes to breakfast (is it just me or do more and more people these days not eat eggs?) and appetites also differ.
It had been forever since the husband and I had been to Gabriel Pizza for breakfast, but we knew it was good and very reasonable, so off we went with our house guests in tow, promising many choices and low prices (and no dishes! haha).
A lot had changed in this particular location of Gabriel Pizza since the last time the husband and I went: a renovation made for a lovely remodeled space and an even bigger brunch menu. Our guests had no problem choosing something to eat and fuel up before we headed downtown to Winterlude.
I have been on a bit of an omelette kick lately when the husband and I go out for breakfast, so I ordered the Western, which comes stuffed with ham and onion. Served with homefries and toast, this was one satisfying breakfast! Everyone else thoroughly enjoyed their meals, and we all left feeling satisfied and ready to start our day.
The husband and I will no doubt be back at Gabriel Pizza for breakfast very soon!
Dinner at Devlin’s Country Bistro
As one of my parent’s favourite local dining spots, it is funny to me that I have really only been to Devlin’s one other time in recent history, when my parents took the husband and I out for dinner to celebrate our engagement (see here). Not living close to my family means that I miss out on some special occasions, and even those less formal occasions like a relaxing dinner out on a Friday night to a lovely spot like Devlin’s.
So when the husband and I went to visit my family one recent weekend (to celebrate my niece’s first birthday - see her amazing cake here), my parents asked if they could take us out to Devlin’s for a relaxing dinner, and to share some of their huge array of appetizers.
After spending some time settling into the cozy bar side of the restaurant and perusing their recently updated menu, we decided on a whole bunch of items to share, including (from top to bottom of my photos): their pasta special of the night, made into an appetizer-sized portion, which was seafood linguine with squid ink pasta; lamb lollipops with roasted garlic jus; another nightly special, the tuna tartare with in-house made chips for serving; Asian fried calamari; a personal pan pizza with anchovy, sundried tomato and basil; and turkey sliders done three ways. The food was, as demonstrated on our previous visit, fantastic, and it was so fun to be able to taste and share so many different items. I think my favourite dish of the night had to be the lamb lollipops: I’ve heard my parents talk about these for so long, I had been dying to try them, so it was delightful to finally sink my teeth into something so rich and meaty!
We all couldn’t resist sharing a dessert, and we managed to agree on the white mousse cake with fresh berries. It was the perfect way for all of us to end our dinner with a few bites of light and fluffy sweetness!
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!
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
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!
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.
Dinner at Social
Every year for my birthday, the husband takes me out for a dinner of my choosing. This year, I chose Social!
Social isn’t one of the city’s hottest, newest restaurants or anything, but that’s why I chose it. It has been around since 2001, under the helm of numerous executive chefs, and I recently asked myself, why haven’t I tried Social? It must be doing something right if it has been around this long.
I’m sure the restaurant’s prime location on Sussex Drive in Ottawa’s Byward Market doesn’t hinder its success, nor does its extensive and unique dinner menu with ample choices for every appetite.
When it is my birthday, I go all out! I started off with an appetizer that appealed to my craving for surf and turf, and it did not disappoint! Three big sea scallops and one incredible hunk of jerk pork belly totally melted in my mouth. I savoured every.single.bite! The pureed sweet potato was like velvet on my tongue.
For my main, I had a difficult time making a decision, but, in the end, I went with the salmon, which is served with curry-flavoured smoked mussels, fingerling potatoes, roasted cauliflower and Marcona almonds. This is one of the most unique salmon dishes I have ever enjoyed (and I’ve eaten a LOT of salmon at restaurants). There were so many delightful textures and flavours at play: the softness of the fingerlings and the cauliflower; the crunch of the toasted almonds; and the smokiness of the mussels. All of this combined with the delicate and expertly cooked salmon: this was dinner perfection!
The husband ordered the burger, which comes topped with shredded beef short rib and havarti, and served with fries. He loved it - he even shared a bite or two with me, so I can corroborate his story!
Overall, we had a great experience at Social: the food, the service, the ambiance - everything was excellent. We wouldn’t hesitate to return.
Brunch at Navarra
Well, it was my birthday this past weekend. As I get a little deeper into my early 30s, the more I dislike celebrating my birthday, but I guess that is to be expected. I am getting old!
The good thing about my birthday though is the delicious eats! Friends know my penchant for good food, so I get to indulge a lot during my birthday time frame.
A Byward Market restaurant that I had been dying to try was Navarra, and I finally made it there for brunch with some friends one recent weekend. I still have to make it there for dinner sometime, but that will have to be for another birthday or celebration.
I started off my brunch with a perfect cappuccino, which was totally adorable with its delightful foam cap. Next, we were treated to some in-house made chocolate chip scones (on the house), which were deliciously flaky and sweet.
I knew long before I set foot in Navarra for brunch that I would order their “huevos rancheros” (quotations marks are Navarra’s own). Described as “poached eggs, chicharron, black bean tostada, serrano, spicy tomato sauce and goat cheese”, this was indeed an adventure for the tastebuds! The tomato sauce had a definite spicy kick to it, and the eggs were soft and fluffy. I loved all of the different textures in the dish: the crunchy chicharron (pork rinds), the silky serrano ham, the velvety black bean sauce. My co-diners had the Mexican bricklayer scrambled eggs and the french toast, both of which also looked to die for!
I would love to return to Navarra for brunch sometime: the atmosphere was relaxed and the service was attentive without being overbearing. Most importantly, the food was incredible!