New & No­table Din­ing Ex­pe­ri­ences

Last year, six new restau­rants joined an al­ready bur­geon­ing food scene — and with those ad­di­tions, Ottawa so­lid­i­fies its place as a food desti­na­tion

Where Ottawa - - Contents - BY NI­COL­INA LEONE

Ottawa’s bur­geon­ing culi­nary scene wel­comes six new restos whose dishes run the gamut from Venice to Tokyo.

NORTH AND NAVY

“Bacari are Italy’s an­swer to the pub, and ci­chèti are the Ital­ian an­swer to Span­ish tapas. Ital­ians have an an­swer for ev­ery­thing” — so quips North and Navy, whose chef dishes up his Vene­tian her­itage in­side an unas­sum­ing red brick house in down­town Ottawa. Not your usual Ital­ian fare, North and Navy serves mains in­spired by sim­i­lar­i­ties in in­gre­di­ents be­tween East­ern On­tario and North­ern Italy in a mod­ern set­ting (no heavy ta­ble cloths here!). The re­cess of the resto has been trans­formed into a bac­aro, the Vene­tian equiv­a­lent of a ca­sual space to en­joy a glass of wine, Prosecco, and ci­chèti (pro­nounced chi-ket-ee). Th­ese small plates are adorned with such sim­ple ed­i­ble plea­sures as tortel­letti, oc­to­pus —even an Ital­ian ver­sion of liver and onions. Be sure and try their desserts, in­clud­ing the Giuseppe Luigi, a twist on the Jos Louis, a Que­bec pas­try con­sist­ing of red vel­vet cake and cream en­robed in a milk choco­late shell. 226 Ne­pean St., 613-232-6289, northand­navy.com

THE BEL­MONT

Small plates, shared plates, ‘bar’ snacks, and cock­tails — this mod­ern tav­ern serves food and drinks meant to be en­joyed with friends and over the course of a long evening. The chef, who grew up in Thai­land, serves such Asian-in­spired dishes as duck takaki, tuna tartare, and pump­kin siu mai, along with beet salad, ‘cheese and crack­ers,’ and home­made beef jerky. Try The Last Word or the Lone­some Loser — fan­ci­fully-named cock­tails deftly mixed with unique in­gre­di­ents. Lo­cated in an older part of the

city, The Bel­mont creates a cozy, bustling space with mod­ern, in­ter­na­tional flour­ishes. 1169 Bank St., 613-979-3663, bel­montot­tawa.com

THE POMEROY HOUSE

Who doesn’t love a clas­sic burger and fries? What if that burger was so gen­er­ously re­plete with pi­mento cheese, it was pok­ing out the side? And the brioche bun —fresh and tall and filled with red tomato slices and pick­les. The fries? Crisp and crunchy and served with malt mayo. The Pomeroy makes the or­di­nary ex­tra­or­di­nary, and the food plat­ing su­perb – it re­ally does taste as good as it looks. It’s cer­tainly not just burg­ers ei­ther – duck gets rave re­views, and oys­ters, quail, and gnoc­chi are just some of the other items on the bill pro­duced with Pomeroy prow­ess. For dessert, clas­sics with a twist that are al­most too beau­ti­ful to eat. And with an in-house som­me­lier, rest as­sured you’ll find a glass to match ev­ery course. The room is classy but re­laxed, the servers knowl­edge­able and friendly. 749 Bank St., 613-237-1658, thepomeroy.ca

CAR­BEN FOOD + DRINK

The chefs at Car­ben know how to play with food. Case in point: the ex­otic-sound­ing wood ear mushroom salad, which fea­tures baby bok choy, eryn­gii (also known as king trum­pet mushroom), edamame beans, and shiso (an Asian culi­nary herb, part of the mint fam­ily). This for­est-y food ex­cur­sion is art­fully dec­o­rated with dol­lops of miso glaze and turmeric aioli, de­lib­er­ate and pre­cise in their plac­ing —a dish so de­li­cious that even the most te­na­cious of meat-lovers won’t feel with­out. Desserts are no less imag­i­na­tive – Cin­na­mon Toast Crunch is paired with agar­jel­lied straw­berry peb­bles, al­mond milk, and choco­late, cre­at­ing a throw­back to child­hood ce­real bowls, but so much more sa­ti­at­ing. Large win­dows make up the restau­rant’s outer wall, while pic­tures, sculp­tures, maps, and cook­books – which cus­tomers are wel­come to pe­ruse – dec­o­rate the nar­row in­te­rior. The name Car­ben is a com­bi­na­tion of two names: “Car” from pas­try chef Caro­line Ngo and “Ben” from chef Kevin Benes, but it is also a play on the el­e­ment car­bon, which is found in all things —fit­ting for chefs who draw in­spi­ra­tion for their dishes from the unique­ness of life. 1100 Welling­ton St. W., Ottawa, 613-792-4000, car­ben­restau­rant.com

TOMO

The feel is that of an iza­kaya, a main­stay of Ja­panese culi­nary life, which serves small plates of fresh and fried foods in a bar-like set­ting. Tomo’s sashimi plat­ter pro­vides a taste of fresh, raw salmon, tuna, oc­to­pus, and crab; tra­di­tional sushi rolls are a hit; and the beef tartare comes with house-made potato chips. Though there’s only one op­tion

for dessert, the Moo Shu Ice Cream won’t have you won­der­ing what you’re miss­ing. Th­ese home­made ice cream truf­fles fea­ture such Asian-in­spired flavours as milk tea, mi­mosa, and sesame —a sat­is­fy­ing and com­ple­men­tary choice to the Asian fu­sion ap­proach Tomo has taken. The in­te­rior brings to­gether Ja­panese flair and con­tem­po­rary touches: sake bar­rels are mounted on one wall, a mu­ral of geishas painted on an­other. Blocky wooden chairs and ta­bles, a con­crete bar, and marine-grade rope hang­ing from the ceil­ing are mod­ern ad­di­tions, soft­ened by the warm glow cast by a sea of twin­kling tea lights. Tomo means “long-time friend” in Ja­panese, and with any luck, this By­Ward Mar­ket restau­rant will be around for a long time. 109 Clarence St., 613-241-0990, to­morestau­rant.ca

SHARE FREE­HOUSE

As the name sug­gests, ev­ery­thing on the menu is made to share: soups, sal­ads, mains, even cock­tails —ev­ery­thing can be or­dered for one or two (or more). And ev­ery­thing is priced as such, with a cost for “sin­gle” or for “shar­ing.” Of course, there are the tra­di­tional items to share, such as the char­cu­terie board, fea­tur­ing duck pro­sciutto, bre­saola (air-dried, salted beef that has been aged two or three months), pre­serves, berries, and won­ton chips. A var­ied menu of­fers bar snacks to full meals, all ex­e­cuted with a fine­din­ing flair. If the bi­son tartare hap­pens to be on the menu, take our ad­vice and or­der it. In­gre­di­ents are lo­cally sourced and fresh. Such desserts as beignets with blue­berry pre­serves and peanut but­ter ice cream with French toast are ad­ven­tur­ous and de­li­cious. The beer list of­fers a plethora of lo­cal, craft brews and the cock­tails are named af­ter aspects of the neigh­bour­hood: Wicked Wanda, for the adult em­po­rium on Bank Street; Ward 14, the sec­tion of the city in which the restau­rant is lo­cated. Small and cozy, the in­te­rior glows – light re­flects off dark wood ta­bles and black-painted walls. 327 Som­er­set St. W., 613-6804000, share­free­house.ca.

Op­po­site: The Pomeroy House Above left, right: North and Navy Left and below: Share Free­house

Top: TOMO Above and leftt: Car­ben Food +Drink

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