CITY BITES

Lo­cal food news

Ottawa Magazine - - CONTENTS - By Sarah Brown

Hot Choco­late

Sweet tim­ing! Just ahead of Christ­mas, choco­late en­tre­pre­neur Al­icja Bu­chow­icz opened for busi­ness, fill­ing the shelves of Al­icja Con­fec­tions (829 Bank St.) with choco­late bars and truf­fles. The pretty new store in the heart of the Glebe is an ex­ten­sion of the brand that Bu­chow­icz launched a cou­ple of years ago, be­gin­ning small at mar­kets and pop-up shops within larger stores, then ramp­ing up her pro­duc­tion — and ex­pec­ta­tions — to em­brace store own­er­ship. Top sell­ers in­clude Straw­berry Blonde (white choco­late with pow­dered freeze-dried straw­ber­ries and puffed brown rice), The Nicholas Bar (it pairs milk choco­late with potato chips), and The Hippy Bar (a 70 per cent dark choco­late bar with goji berries, ca­cao nibs, and chia seeds). She also plans to get in­ter­ac­tive with choco­late in the new year. Imag­ine the pos­si­bil­i­ties! Pot Luck Lo­cated in the same strip mall as T&T su­per­mar­ket on Hunt Club, Mo­rals Vil­lage hot-pot restau­rant (3987 River­side Dr., Unit 1) al­lows peo­ple to get their Asian gro­ceries, then con­tinue the theme with a steam­ing bowl of broth filled with Chi­nese del­i­ca­cies. This new lo­ca­tion of the chain has up­wards of 600 hot-pot restau­rants in China but only re­cently crossed into Canada, open­ing up­scale hot-pot shops in Toronto, Van­cou­ver, Water­loo, and now Ot­tawa. Bright and mod­ern, the spa­cious spot marks a change from the small and homey mom-and-pop shops Ot­tawa is used to when it comes to Asian eat­ing. That said, ser­vice is help­ful, with en­thu­si­as­tic servers will­ing to talk new din­ers through the list of close to 100 in­gre­di­ents, in­clud­ing thinly sliced meats, all man­ner of fish- and meatballs, Asian and North Amer­i­can veg­gies, and hand-made noo­dles. Ker­ala Cui­sine It started with the big win by chef Joe Thot­tun­gal of

Co­conut La­goon: though he’s been in busi­ness here for over a decade, his south In­dian restau­rant re­ally took off af­ter Thot­tun­gal grabbed gold in the 2016 Gold Medal Plates com­pe­ti­tion, then went on to win sil­ver in the

Cana­dian Culi­nary Cham­pi­onships held in early 2017. He fol­lowed that up with a spring­time ren­o­va­tion that added 45 seats to his peren­ni­ally busy Vanier restau­rant. Re­cently, two com­peti­tors have taken ad­van­tage of the pop­u­lar­ity of this cui­sine. Flavours of Ker­ala (1104 Klondike Rd.) opened in Kanata this past fall. The 30-seat eatery has wowed the tech crowd and west en­ders, who are thrilled to have the chance to sam­ple Ker­ala cui­sine closer to home. And in be­tween the two? Than­jai

Restau­rant (108 Third Ave.) ar­rived in the Glebe in Oc­to­ber, promis­ing del­i­ca­cies from Tamil Nadu, Ker­ala, Kar­nataka, and Andhra Pradesh. Than­jai is the se­cond restau­rant for Ku­mare­san Muthukr­ish­nan, his wife Geetha, and their part­ner Ra­jesh Tyagi, who de­cided to open af­ter re­ceiv­ing numer­ous re­quests from Ot­tawans vis­it­ing their Mon­treal space. “When we stud­ied the mar­ket [in Ot­tawa], we found that there is a lot of po­ten­tial for the south In­dian food,” Muthukr­ish­nan notes. In ad­di­tion to idlis, bonda, and ut­ta­pams, the 55-seat eatery of­fers up such in­trigu­ing menu items as a four-foot dosa.

Break­fast Club

When the old-school diner there closed a few years ago, it seemed there’d be no rea­son ever to step in­side Billings

Bridge Cen­tre look­ing for home-style cook­ing. And then, lo and be­hold, the sleepy mall sud­denly wel­comed not one but two break­fast-type joints in the space of a few months. Allô! Mon Coco is a Que­bec fran­chise out of Mon­treal that tempts early birds with a 5:30 a.m. open­ing time and Mil­len­ni­als with its mod­ern-diner vibe. Diner-style break­fasts and lunches aren’t new, but the fu­tur­is­tic look (lots of shiny white sur­faces and slick red back­light­ing) is draw­ing crowds. Mean­while, just a few store­fronts away, Waf­fle Villa tar­gets sweet eaters with up­scale Bel­gian waf­fles, bub­ble tea, and qual­ity cof­fee (from Equa­tor Cof­fee Roast­ers). Dou­ble Up It takes a cer­tain au­dac­ity to go boldly into the spot re­cently va­cated by the beloved Black Cat Bistro. But the four part­ners be­hind Mati Crudo + Char­coal (428 Preston St.) brim with con­fi­dence, buoyed up by four suc­cess­ful years un­der their belts at EVOO Greek

Kitchen (438 Preston St.). Broth­ers Elias and Dean Theo­dos­siou, Amanda Belli, and April Miller are

con­fi­dent that lo­cal din­ers will em­brace their se­cond restau­rant with a Mediter­ranean theme, this one fo­cused on the crudo (think raw) and char­coal (think bar­be­cued) styles of cook­ing served for gen­er­a­tions in Greece and Italy. Bran­don Kennedy, who has been a sous-chef at EVOO since it opened, gets the op­por­tu­nity to spread his wings and run his own kitchen, pre­sid­ing over an oys­ter bar and a mas­sive Ar­gen­tinian grill on which he’ll work his magic with skew­ers, whole chick­ens, and tom­a­hawk steaks. QUICK BITES

• Award-win­ning chef René Ro­driguez, late of Navarra and DISH Ca­ter­ing, has qui­etly re­opened at 151-C Se­cond Ave. Orto Trat­to­ria high­lights cui­sine in­flu­enced by south­ern Italy.

• Wel­come Char­lotte Ot­tawa! This pretty cock­tail bar is at 340 El­gin St., the sleek and comfy look cour­tesy of One80 De­sign.

• Speak­ing of cock­tails, all hail Cel­lar 82! The city’s ul­ti­mate mo­bile bar (housed in a 1967 Airstream trailer) re­cently ex­panded its ser­vices with the launch of

Cre­ative Cock­tail Club, a monthly sub­scrip­tion ser­vice for cock­tail lovers look­ing for lo­cal in­gre­di­ents and in­spi­ra­tion.

• Own­ers of the pi­o­neered-in-Ot­tawa In­stant Pot elec­tric cooker will want to check out In­stant

Favourites, a new cook­book by Ger­man-trained chef and food stylist Mia Bach­maier and fel­low chef and food pho­tog­ra­pher Mike Mc­Coll. They prom­ise more than 100 recipes, along with “tips and tricks from two pro­fes­sional chefs (and busy par­ents) for get­ting the most out of your pres­sure cooker.”

• Keep an eye on the mar­vel­lous but tiny Edgar (60, rue Bé­gin, Gatineau). Chef/owner Marysol Fou­cault has bought the build­ing, which also houses two other busi­nesses. Ren­o­va­tions will be­gin this spring to ex­pand Edgar into the ad­join­ing space, dou­bling its size.

• Roku Bar + Bites (610 Som­er­set St. W.) has opened in Chi­na­town with a long list of cock­tails and an af­ford­able bites menu with such in­trigu­ing-sound­ing items as kim­chi fries, banh mi scal­lion tacos, and Lao meatballs.

• When ex-Ot­tawa Sen­a­tor Kyle Tur­ris was traded to Nashville in Novem­ber, he penned a sweet farewell note that in­cluded a shout-out to all his beloved food haunts along Wellington West. Check it out on the TSN web­site — then head to Saslove’s (1333 Wellington St. W.) to try his favourite cook­ies.

• In other neigh­bour­hood news, a comfy eatery known as The Third has opened at 1017 Wellington St. W. in Hin­ton­burg; The Jack Ketch has launched on Stittsville Main Street with chef Kevin Con­way (for­merly of So­cial and The Whales­bone, among oth­ers) at the helm; and Casa Méx­ico, a tra­di­tional Mex­i­can restau­rant, opened its doors at 1489 Merivale. Fans of clas­sic sand­wiches will want to check out

Su­bito Sand­wich at Glad­stone near Bank, which sells Ital­ian-style sand­wiches and a few clas­sic hot dishes (think can­nel­loni, ravi­oli) at great prices.

Feast for the Eyes Al­icja Con­fec­tions (left) sells pretty — and tasty — home­made choco­late bars. New hot-pot restau­rant Mo­rals Vil­lage (right), part of a China-based chain, of­fers some­thing new for those who love Asian food — and com­mu­nal din­ing

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