CHEAP EATS

Ottawa Magazine - - Volume 18 | Number 2 - BY CINDY DEACHMAN AND ANNE DESBRISAY

We eat our way around town, nosh­ing on all man­ner of well-priced sand­wiches, stews, and sweets to bring you our 43 finds. To round out the top 50, we called on seven dis­cern­ing chefs to re­veal their cheap eats of choice. At these prices, you can’t af­ford not to eat out.

PLUS Learn­ing the ropes from three food-cart own­ers and three in­ven­tive il­lus­tra­tors sketch their fan­tasy food trucks With files from Cindy Deachman (CD) and Anne DesBrisay (AD), bol­stered by 14 staff picks (SP) and chef sug­ges­tions 1. Cheesus Crust Almighty If you don’t get struck down for blas­phemy first, you may still keel over eat­ing the Cheesus Crust Almighty, The Joint’s unique and “mys­te­ri­ous” take on a grilled cheese sand­wich. They take mac ’n’ cheese, roll it in a “se­cret in­gre­di­ent” (Cin­na­mon Toast Crunch?), plunge it into the fryer, then “slam” it into a grilled cheese sand­wich. This heav­enly combo gob­s­macks the palate with a jum­ble of salty, sweet, tangy sen­sa­tions — the lat­ter if you choose to dunk the sand­wich into the ac­com­pa­ny­ing house-made Bol­ly­wood sauce (think but­ter chicken gravy sans chicken). It would be “crim­i­nal” not to in­clude a side of deep-fried Brit­ney pickle spears. $7–$10. The Joint, 352 Pre­ston St., 613-656-5849. ~SP 2. Hot chicken sand­wich A long-run­ning tra­di­tion on the cor­ner, Ada’s Diner mor­phed into Wilf & Ada’s last year and serves diner clas­sics with a twist — they’re made from scratch. We’re big fans of the hot chicken sand­wich, a pile of moist pulled chicken on a root-veg­etable mash, piled on house-made bread and smoth­ered with full-flavoured onion gravy, well pep­pered and well made. Served with good fries and arugula salad. The taste of the 2015 diner? Bring it on! $14.50. Wilf & Ada’s, 510 Bank St., 613-231-7959. ~AD 3. Square pizza slices Cen­tre­town­ers know that the best slice isn’t sit­ting un­der a heat lamp at a chain pizza joint. It’s made to or­der in a hum­ble pizze­ria that has an­chored the Som­er­set strip from Bank to Bron­son for 15 years. Pavarazzi of­fers white or herbed­flecked dough, and one or­der gives you two four-inch squares of sat­is­fy­ing ’za, which is usu­ally plenty. But if you’re soak­ing up a night of beer swill­ing, go for two. Leftovers make per­fect hang­over food. From $3. Pavarazzi, 491 Som­er­set St. W., 613-233-2320. ~SP 4. Deep-fried shrimp dumplings Han­biao Lin learned the high cui­sine of dim sum as an ap­pren­tice in his na­tive Can­ton. So if you want the gen­uine ar­ti­cle, visit Hung Sum, which Lin owns with his wife, May Lee. His shrimp dumplings are beauts. The crisp ex­te­rior of the deep-fried won­ton yields to a sweet fill­ing of shrimp and pork. And as for the feath­ery-light frilled edge — oh! $4.25 for three dumplings. Hung Sum, 870 Som­er­set St. W., 613-238-8828. ~CD

5. The brown bag lunch Al­ways — or al­most al­ways — topped with potato chips of some pedi­gree, the sand­wiches in the brown bag lunches at this con­tem­po­rary bak­ery (chef Michael Hol­land is best known for his jewel-like mini layer cakes and soft­serve ice cream) come with a cookie or a mini brownie and a drink. Or you can pay a lit­tle more and up­grade to a cake. Which is the clear way to go. $8.50. Hol­land’s Cake & Shake, 229 Armstrong St., 613-695-3311. ~AD 7. Cold green bean noo­dles Any­one who has vis­ited Bei­jing in sum­mer­time ap­pre­ci­ates any re­lief af­forded from such scorch­ing heat. Eat­ing liang fen is one way. By green beans, Frank Pay means the mung beans used to make these slip­pery, translu­cent noo­dles. At his Har­mony Res­tau­rant, Pay him­self makes them. The sauce? Sim­ply soy sauce, vine­gar, sesame oil, and chilies. Bring on the heat! $2.95. Har­mony Res­tau­rant, 769 Gladstone Ave., 613-234-9379. ~CD 8. Pho When Byward Mar­ket News moved out, beefy-rich pho moved in — the sort of noo­dle soup that starts with beefy bones, adds a light bou­quet of star anise and cin­na­mon, and doesn’t need a few squeezes of sriracha or lime to taste like some­thing. Served in a long, thin al­ley of a place with a penny floor that looks like a mil­lion bucks. Large soup $11–$13. Asian Al­ley, 8 ByWard Mar­ket Sq., 613-860-9889. ~AD 9. Ji­cama rolls Sure, you can go straight for the usual soft roll — shrimp or chicken or tofu bun­dled with noo­dles and greens and herbs and rolled up in rice pa­per — but the ji­cama rolls are so much more in­ter­est­ing. Ji­cama rolls fea­ture warm soft­ened ji­cama, rib­bons of omelette and diced Chi­nese sausage, dried shrimp, let­tuce, basil, and mint. They need no sauce. They are per­fect as is. $5 for two. Huong’s Bistro, 359 Booth St., 613-237-8755. ~AD 10. Flat­bread The bril­liant brains be­hind Bridge­head now bring us flat­bread for lunch, avail­able only at their Pre­ston Street roast­ery. The potato, broc­coli rabe, and fontina cheese ver­sion is par­tic­u­larly good. $6.25 for a gen­er­ous slice. Bridge­head, 130 An­der­son St., 613-233-1221. ~AD 11. Olive fougasse Where else in the Ot­tawa-Ou­taouais re­gion do you find such fat fougasse? Only at Gatineau bak­ery La balade des douceurs. Michel Pépin, baker and co-owner, keeps mem­o­ries of his na­tive France alive with these stuffed breads. One is made with hu­mungous green and black olives. No bet­ter lunch than this, to boot! $4.95. La balade des douceurs, 1540, boul. Gréber, Gatineau (Gatineau sec­tor), 819-205-1288; 166, rue Mont­calm, Gatineau (Hull sec­tor), 819-205-7088. ~CD 12. Kolo “Af­ter work, the fam­ily al­ways gath­ers to­gether to talk about their day,” says Sa­muel De­missie, owner of con­fec­tionery Royal Va­ri­ety. “Dur­ing that time, es­pe­cially, we [nib­ble on] kolo.” The English have their

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