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
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
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
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
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