Posts tagged restaurant
Posts tagged restaurant
Lunch at the Flying Banzini (round 2)
I was excited to return for a second lunch at the Flying Banzini recently; my first experience was fantastic (see here) and I couldn’t wait to try another of their delicious sandwich creations.
After being warmly greeted by the owner, Dave Scharf (he is so incredibly friendly and helpful!) I placed my order. This time, I opted for the Swing Swing Swing panini, which contains smoked salmon, spinach, red onions, capers and dill cream cheese all on a rosemary focaccia bun. I have an obsession with smoked salmon, so my hopes were high for this panini. It delivered! The classic pairing of smoked salmon, red onion, cream cheese and capers is artfully and skilfully brought together in this panini; there was the perfect amount of each ingredient on this sandwich.
Of course you don’t leave the Flying Banzini without also having one of their delightful mini cheesecakes! This time, I had the pumpkin cheesecake, which came topped with marshmallows - wow! The texture of this cream cheese was incredible: soft, silky and smooth. I managed to scarf it down before I had the chance to take a photo so you’ll just have to use your imagination about what this little gem looked like!
Once again, I’ll be back to the Flying Banzini, hopefully sooner rather than later this time! My next quest is to try one of their soft roll sandwiches…my mouth is watering just thinking about it!
Dinner at Luxe Bistro
I was at Luxe for dinner about a year ago this month celebrating the husband’s birthday. It was our first time at Luxe and we had an excellent meal. So when my bff suggested celebrating her birthday at Luxe one recent weekend, I knew it was going to be a night to remember!
With seven ladies in our party, we were given one of Luxe’s corner booth tables, which, in my opinion, is one of the best seats in the house. Our first order was to get the birthday girl a drink, so we ordered a bottle of wine to her liking: the only malbec on the menu, this. It was delicious - velvety smooth and easy to drink.
For my meal, I wanted to experience a different side of Luxe’s menu (I had the bouillabaisse last time), so I opted for two appetizers for my meal. I started with the tuna crudo (my first photo) from Luxe’s cold seafood bar. Thick, luscious pieces of fresh tuna came drizzled in yuzu ponzu sauce and topped with crispy fried ginger and a few thin slices of radish. I savoured every single bite of this dish! It is one of the best raw tuna dishes I have ever had, and it was a perfect portion size. I would eat this again in a heartbeat!
For my main dish, I ordered the steak tacos from the appetizer menu (my second photo). Described as Asian stir-fried beef topped with pickled daikon and carrot, fresh jalapeno, sour cream, cilantro and lime, these were just as tasty as they look! I’m not sure exactly what the “Asian” flavours on the beef were, but it was incredibly rich tasting. The richness of the beef paired with the pickled daikon and carrot was delightful.
And if you think at this point I hadn’t had enough - you’re right! My other bff and I decided to share a dessert, and we were not disappointed. Simply named chocolate spring rolls, this dessert (my third photo) is comes exactly as described! Light and crispy spring rolls filled with dense, dark chocolate ganache. The rolls were served with two dipping sauces for further indulgence: banana Anglaise and caramel. To finish off my meal with the perfect touch, I had a cappuccino; it is my favourite way to end the night!
Overall, we had a fantastic time at Luxe, and everyone, the birthday girl included, enjoyed their meals immensely. Our servers were fun and attentive, and helped to make the birthday girl’s night perfect. I would highly recommend Luxe for a night out!
Some snippets from a night to remember! Celebrated my bff’s birthday in style (and with delicious eats!) at @luxebistro last night. This malbec was a dream on which to sip! More to come on what I ate and why I loved it!
Lunch at Freshii
I noticed Freshii a while back when I drove past it in a blur trying to focus on the lanes of traffic and cars around me while driving into the downtown core. I didn’t think much of it until my sister mentioned the name, saying that it was a great spot for a quick, healthy lunch.
During my sister’s recent visit, we took advantage of my day off and went to Freshii for lunch so that I could see what it was all about. There are two locations in Ottawa, one on the University of Ottawa campus and one on Sparks Street. We had parked on the university campus so my sister could attend a meeting so we ate at that location.
The interior is bright, and Freshii’s colour theme is quite apparent: white, bright emerald green and black. There are menu boards displaying the myraid of options for their wraps, salads, burritos, soups and bowls. I decided to stick with their menu boards for my first time, but they have another option: design your own _____ (wrap, salad, burrito, bowl or soup). They provide little clipboards with pre-made forms that list all of the available ingredient options and prices for each choice. Wow! You could literally go in and order something completely different every day of the week. You might think that this is no different than say, Subway, but Freshii has even more toppings such as chopped beets, artichoke hearts, corn, edamame, green apple, chickpeas, celery, cabbage…and the list goes on! Definitely not your average toppings.
So as I was saying, I decided to go with one of their menu board items, and I chose the Fiesta burrito, which is basically a heated wrap that comes stuffed with brown rice, cajun chicken, avocado, corn, black beans, diced tomato, cilantro, salsa and low-fat ranch dressing. It was fantastic! A huge burrito that left me full for the rest of the day. I did feel the price was a tad steep at $7.99 plus tax, but it was a really big portion and the ingredients were all of excellent quality.
I can’t wait to go back to try more of their menu board items (or even create my own). I’m going to try to take the husband as I know he’ll love it, even though I know he’ll be totally overwhelmed by the choices! Have you been to a Freshii? Any tips? What is your favourite menu item?
Brunch at Eggstyle (again!)
Ok, ok, so it had at least been a few months since we’ve last been to Eggstyle, one of our favourite breakfast/brunch restaurants (see here and here). But, when my parents-in-law were visiting a few weekends ago, we knew we had to take them there!
My three dining mates ordered Eggstyle’s basic breakfast (eggs, bacon, toast, homefries, hot cinnamon apples), which we know and love. I decided to finally try one of their omelettes, so I chose the western, which comes with green pepper, onion, ham and tomato and a side of homefries. I was very impressed by the size and the fresh, plentiful ingredients! I would definitely order this or another of Eggstyle’s omelettes again.
Of course, breakfast at Eggstyle wouldn’t be the same without ordering one of their huge crepes, so we ordered their strawberry crepe for the four of us to share. It was fantastic as always and my parents-in-law loved it!
Dinner at Authentic Vietnamese Pho House
I’m pretty easygoing when it comes to Vietnamese cuisine; I don’t really have a favourite restaurant but there are one or two that the husband and I tend to frequent. A good bowl of pho can be very hearty and comforting.
We like to try new places to compare each different restaurant’s recipe for pho broth and other things, so when a new restaurant opened nearby, we decided to check it out. Turns out that it is a second location of the original Authentic Vietnamese Pho House restaurant on Greenbank Road (see a review from the Ottawa Citizen here).
After carefully perusing the menu, we decided to order our usual: the rare beef and beef flank pho rice noodle soup for the husband, and the grilled beef vermicelli for me. We also ordered an appetizer, the bbq pork rice wrap with peanut sauce. Overall, the food was pretty good. The husband’s pho had great depth of flavour, but, unlike some of our usual pho spots, they were a little bit skimpy on the beef and heavy on the sliced onion and rice noodles. My vermicelli was in line with most other places; the grilled beef was tender and delicious. The bbq pork rice wraps were also good but quite small.
We will definitely be back as their menu had some other dishes that caught my eye. With winter on its way, our cravings for that comforting feeling that pho brings to the belly will be elevated!
Lunch at the Flying Banzini
As you can perhaps guess, I get excited when a new restaurant opens in Ottawa. Especially one that is close to my workplace, which affords me the delight of being able to wander out on my lunch hour to experience new and delicious eats.
When I first saw and read about the Flying Banzini, it was a little bittersweet because it was opening in the former space that belonged to Collected Works, a fantastic independent book store that had to close its doors. Alas, I had high hopes: even the name had me intrigued!
I had been following the owner’s blog during the first couple of weeks of the business being open, and it was interesting. Of course there are ups and downs when opening a new restaurant, and the owner, Dave Scharf, blogged about every one of those ups and downs. I really liked his honesty in those blog posts - I thought he was pretty brave for being so open about the ups and downs of his new restaurant.
I am a big sucker for a good sandwich, so I was excited to sink my teeth into one of the Flying Banzini’s fine offerings. I decided on one of their paninis, which was cutely named “Late in the Evening” and cost $8.95 Served on focaccia, this panini comes with pulled roast chicken, double-smoked bacon, sliced granny smith apple, spinach, tomato, Quebec brie and lemon chive mayo. What a fantastic sandwich! The portion size was huge, and the flavours complemented each other incredible. I loved the mish mash of textures from the creaminess of the brie to the crunchy apple. I also added a side salad to my sandwich for an extra $1.95; it was fresh, ample and the in-house made lemon, honey and thyme dressing was fantastic.
But if the amazing sandwich and salad weren’t enough, feast your eyes on probably the most delightful aspect of their menu: the mini cheesecakes! When ordering my lunch, I also wanted to get a couple of cheesecakes to take back to the office with me. The cashier, while handing me two of the adorable coins you see in my photo above, advised me that, when I was done my lunch, I could return to the counter and hand in my coins for my two cheesecakes. Cute! I opted for the chocolate espresso (the one with the coffee bean on top) while a curious coworker for whom I promised a cheesecake had chosen the sea salt caramel chocolate cheesecake. My chocolate espresso cheesecake was incredibly rich and dense, and full of coffee flavour. I loved every last bite! My coworker also loved hers but thought that the chocolate base overwhelmed the salted caramel a little bit.
Overall, I can’t wait to go back to the Flying Banzini. What a fabulous restaurant!
Dinner at ZaZaZa
With the Monday of the Labour Day long weekend upon us, the husband and I decided to venture out to try something new. The husband, being the pizza nut that he is, had had his eye on ZaZaZa for some time, so off we went.
ZaZaZa was created by the same man, Ion Aimers, who created the Works Gourmet Burger restaurants, which has now become a chain with locations all over southern Ontario. The husband and I are big fans of the Works and have enjoyed dining at their various Ottawa locations over the years (see here as just one example), so we had high hopes for ZaZaZa.
We chose to eat at the Bank Street location (the other being in the Beechwood neighbourhood), which is fairly small but luxuriously decorated with damask wallpaper and sparkly chandeliers.
Similar to the Works Burger Bistro, you can choose from three types of crust for your pizza: dusted cornmeal, honey oat or gluten free. I chose the Sweet Glide pizza on a honey oat crust, which comes topped with pesto oil, mozzarella, proscuitto, shrimp, freshly sliced pear, pecans, brie and arugula. The husband ordered the Cajun Cowboy on a dusted cornmeal crust, which comes topped with tomato chipotle sauce, caramelized onion, chicken, spicy havarti, chorizo sausage and corn. The result? Definitely interesting! The crust was not at all what I expected; it was very dense and chewy, not light and airy. But I loved it! My toppings were plentiful and fresh, and I thought the flavours went together perfectly. The husband couldn’t agree more - he loved his pizza. The cornmeal crust was a new experience for him, and he liked it for being so different than any other pizza he has tried.
We decided to save room for dessert so after eating a piece or two of our pizzas, we set aside the rest to order the Crispy Punch, one of ZaZaZa’s dessert pizzas. Much smaller but no less delicious, the Crispy Punch is ZaZaZa’s honey oat crust topped with peanut butter sauce, milk and dark chocolate chips, chunks of Crispy Crunch and whipped cream. Yum! A perfect way to end our dinner.
The husband would like to go back to try more of their pizzas…I’ll keep you posted!
Dinner at The 3 Brewers (Les 3 Brasseurs)
While hosting some friends one weekend this past summer, the husband and I thought it would be a good opportunity to try the brand new 3 Brewers location in Kanata. We had been watching it over the past six months or so as it had slowly and carefully been built and had decided to try it once it had opened.
This was the first time for all of us at a 3 Brewers restaurant, which is well-known across Quebec and has had a location in the downtown core of Ottawa for a while now. The restaurant itself is gorgeous: the inside is a big open space with two levels and a giant bar at the far end. Since the concept of this restaurant is a microbrewery, you can see the brewing equipment/apparatus through the glass enclosure in which it is encased.
We chose a table on the main floor of the restaurant, and were promptly greeted by our server. Since this is supposedly the place you go to have a beer, I tried one of their summer beer flavours, the blueberry chocolate beer. Our friend had the sampler, which allows you to taste their five main beers: a white, a blond, an IPA, an amber and a brown. Right away I will admit that I actually don’t really like beer at all, but I was having one of those “when in Rome” moments so I went ahead with it. I guess my expectations were too high (and my palette too immature) but my ‘blueberry chocolate’ beer tasted just like…beer. Oh well. Our friend liked the sampler a lot!
For my dinner, I opted for their seafood open-faced sandwich, which was smoked salmon, shrimp, onions, capers and their homemade spread (avocado, cream cheese, olive oil and lemon) all served on top of a piece of country bread and a garden salad for my side. This meal was…interesting. All of the toppings were fresh and the salad was good, but the whole thing overall was just pretty average. The bread was seemingly just a basic piece of brown sandwich bread and it all seemed just kind of thrown together. So maybe my fault for choosing a weird menu item but I left feeling a bit let down.
The husband on the other hand ordered the roast beef sandwich, and he thought it was delicious! So, to each his own.
I’m not sure I’d return any time soon to The 3 Brewers for a meal, but I may in the future.
Breakfast/lunch at Art-is-in Bakery
I’ve been to Art-is-in quite a few times now, and the husband and I often pick up their delicious flavoured breads at our local farmer’s market on the weekends. But it had been quite a long time since the husband had dined at their restaurant, so we decided to treat ourselves to breakfast this past long weekend.
We probably should have waited to go on Sunday instead of Saturday, which is the day they break out all of the indulgent and delicious brunch goodies like vanilla bean buttermilk pancakes, pulled pork poutine, foie gras dirty duck french toast, eggs benny and other feats of culinary imagination, but alas we headed out on Saturday to fulfill our craving.
I ordered the basic breakfast sandwich, which I had served on one of their incredible croissants. The breakfast sandwich consists of maple bacon, egg and cheddar cheese, served with their in-house made ketchup. This is a breakfast sandwich at its best!
The husband opted for the buttermilk brined chicken caesar with bacon sandwich, which is tender chicken pieces with bacon, havarti, tomatoes, arugula and their homemade Caesar dressing, all served on their cheddar, jalapeno and chive bread. He loved it of course!
And what would an indulgent brunch be without some sort of pastry? See exhibit A above: a giant doughnut stuffed with berry-infused Chantilly cream and topped with a glazed doughnut round covered in sprinkles. Yup, the husband was in heaven.
Next time, we’ll hit up their Sunday brunch!
Dinner at East India Company
It had been a long, long time since I’d had Indian food, so I met up with some friends to dine at one of Ottawa’s best, the East India Company. It had also been years (years!) since I’d been to East India Company, so I felt like it was time for a triumphant return.
With both a huge a la carte menu and a spacious lunch and dinner buffet, East India Company is one of the best places to go if you’re craving some curry-flavoured deliciousness. My friends and I opted for the buffet, which allowed us to sample some appetizers, main dishes and desserts. It also has pretty great ambiance: there is a lot of beautiful art both hanging on the walls and taking up floor space, an example of which I shared in my photo above. This piece sits at the very front entrance/foyer of the restaurant and is just magnificent in both size and detail. I was too busy stuffing my face to take a good look at it (and to figure out what it actually is) so I unfortunately cannot tell you what it is exactly. But it was beautiful!
The plate pictured above is a collection of their various curries (lamb, beef, chicken, veggie) and pulao rice. I also couldn’t help but order a mango lassi, which helped cool the fire going on in my mouth many, many times! We also ordered a serving of plain naan bread to share, and it was just as amazing as I remembered it to be.
I felt that the dinner buffet, for $19.99 plus tax, was a fair price for the variety that was offered. I can’t wait to go back!
Lunch at the Heart and Crown
A recent visit by some friends of ours from Whitby brought us down to the Byward Market in search of a patio on which to sit, drink, eat and relax. Our guests were in the mood for a relaxed, laid-back atmosphere, and I thought what better than the glorious patio that spans the almost entire exterior of the Heart and Crown, aka the Irish Village.
I had not been to the Heart and Crown in forever, so I did not know what kind of updates to expect to their menu, but I knew our guests would have ample choice when it came to their selection of beers and other pub drinks. I was completely happily surprised by the menu and the variety of food being offered.
I chose the smoked salmon and shrimp salad wrap, which was exactly that, smoked salmon and shrimp salad, but the wrap also came stuffed with arugula, apple, and red onion. For my side, I upgraded to a bowl of their seafood chowder, which was a creamy broth based chowder jam packed with scallops, shrimp, salmon, haddock, Yukon gold potatoes and bacon. I was incredibly impressed with my meal: everything was vibrantly fresh tasting and very well composed. The wrap was unique to me, and I loved the combination of the creamy seafood salad with the tart, crisp apple slices and the spicy arugula. The chowder was one of the best I’ve had, with fresh dill swimming throughout which added a delightfully fresh flavour.
We all had a great time chatting and catching up while enjoying a delicious meal and a few drinks on the patio at the Heart and Crown. Our guests loved it!
Lunch at the Mill Street Brew Pub
Who says no when the boss says “let’s go out for lunch?” Not me! Some work colleagues and I went out for lunch to the Mill Street Brewery, which has a gorgeous patio and delicious food, and tons of in-house made beer if that is your thing.
I’ve been to Mill Street just once before (see here) and thought it was pretty good. I was looking for something on the lighter side this time so I opted for the Brewmaster’s mussels, which is a pound of fresh mussels, cubes of smoked pork belly, leeks, fennel and garlic, all of which is steamed in their Wit beer. Now, like I’ve said before, I’m not at all a fan of beer, so, although everything about this dish was done perfectly, the flavours from being steamed in the beer just weren’t for me. It was a little too sour, too bitter. But the mussels were huge, fresh and I didn’t have a single closed shell in the entire bowl! There was also plenty of pork belly and both the leeks and fennel added fantastic flavour. I think if you were a beer and a mussel lover, this would be the perfect dish for you!
Dinner at Next
I can’t believe how quickly the summer has gone by: it is already almost halfway through August! Thinking of the dreadful Ottawa winter is completely depressing. But I’ll enjoy what’s left of summer while it lasts! I also can’t believe it took me this long to share the details of my dinner at next with the husband and my Mum. We took her to Next while she was visiting in July.
The husband and I had been to next just once before, for their incredible brunch board (which I seem to have forgot to blog about??) so we knew that we had to return for dinner!
To start, we ordered the Blackie’s chicken, which is Chef and owner Michael Blackie’s take on General Tao’s chicken. We knew it would be delicious as we had tasted it on our brunch board: sweet yet savoury, crispy yet tender. My Mum and I also shared the Yellow tail tuna sashimi pizza which was also good, but I forget that I am not the biggest fan of the deep fried rice fritter, which was maybe just a little bit too big for the actual amount of tuna that is served on top.
For our mains, I ordered the beef short rib, which is braised in molasses and honey and served topped with pistachios on a bed of duck fat-infused mashed potatoes. The beef was incredibly tender and absolutely melted in my mouth!
The husband ordered the hickory smoked rib eye, which came with mini-stuffed/twice baked potatoes and truffle oil-infused jus. This was one of the most unique steaks the husband has ever eaten, as it literally tasted very heavily of hickory smoked, but in a delicious and savoury way. His crispy potatoes were also delightful.
And last but not least, for her main, my Mum chose the lamb shank, which was great for the husband and I as we would probably never order lamb for ourselves so it gave us the opportunity to try it. It was fantastic - incredibly tender, moist and falling off the bone, this lamb was perfect! The cheesy polenta and rosemary mint pan reduction sauce accompanied the lamb absolutely perfectly.
We couldn’t dine at Next and not save room for their unique and indulgent desserts! Since the husband and I had already tried a few of the desserts via the brunch board, we opted to try the one we had not yet tasted, the sticky toffee pudding. Although I found the bread pudding part to be a tad dry and tough, it was still delicious and the mind-blowing fleur de sel caramel and marshmallow sauces, along with the house-made vanilla ice cream, more than made up for any of those little shortcomings. My Mum wanted to try the hot cheesecake mouth pops, which the husband and I had already tried, so we ordered those too and remembered how much I loved them! A warm, deep-fried cheesecake pop complimented by a creamy yogurt sauce, strawberry basil sauce and pulverized graham cracker. What a way to end our perfect meal at Next!! I can’t wait to return.
The husband and I absolutely adore the Food Network show You Gotta Eat Here, which is essentially Canada’s version of Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives. After seeing the episode featuring the Burger Barn in Ohsweken, Ontario, we made a pledge to dine there next time we were visiting my parent’s as they live very close by.
Upon arriving at the Burger Barn, you notice that it is exactly that: a barn! A red and white board and batten building greets you, and is surrounded by a huge gravel parking lot.
Inside the restaurant, there are big wood tables and chairs, booths and a bar that runs the entire length of the restaurant. After being seated, we had the tough decision of deciding on our order! The menu is huge and there is so much to choose from, including burgers, sandwiches, all-day breakfast items, soup, salad, pasta, steaks and more. I ended up choosing the luau burger, which comes topped with Monterey Jack cheese, grilled pineapple, shaved ham, hot peppers and honey mustard, with maple baked beans for my side. It was delicious! The sweetness of the pineapple complemented the savoury sliced ham and the burger patty very well. I was also very impressed by the baked beans - they were rich and sweet, just how I like them.
We all enjoyed our meals very much, including the husband who upgraded his side of fries to a smokehouse poutine, which is regular poutine topped with pulled pork, sour cream and green onions - wow!
It was really fun to actually visit one of the restaurants that we’ve seen on You Gotta Eat Here (besides the ones in our hometown of Ottawa, that is!) and to have such an enjoyable meal with my family. It was a great night!