TOWN

Ottawa Magazine - - CENTRETOWN -

It set up shop in 2010 and has been hum­ming ever since. Town was among the first restau­rants to bring fine din­ing to El­gin, res­cu­ing this part of the street from its Eurostar le­gacy (a late-night hang­out that of­fered cheap drinks and bland grub).

Rather, Town is an up­scale, modern space with leather-backed booths, high ta­bles, cool light­ing, and a large win­dow look­ing out onto El­gin; though small, it’s a per­fect place for rub­bing el­bows and en­joy­ing the hum of a crowded, bustling space.

Co-owner/ex­ec­u­tive chef Marc Do­iron and chef du cui­sine Alex John­stone run a tight ship (cru­cial, now that the kitchen is shared with sis­ter restau­rant Cit­i­zen next door). Their con­cise Ital­ian menu is laid out on a large black­board, of­fer­ing in­gre­di­ents atyp­i­cal to the Euro­pean penin­sula’s tra­di­tional cook­book: pump­kin seeds, chipo­tle ranchero sauce, and sumac, for in­stance.

Small plates can be as sim­ple as a dish of warm olives or as com­plex as a crab risotto. The re­fresh­ing green salad is dressed beau­ti­fully: Lit­tle Gem let­tuce, a com­pact ro­maine, has lively ad­di­tions of wal­nuts, grapes, and Ched­dar. Lus­ciously stuffed with ri­cotta and Parmi­giano, Town’s meat­balls have al­ways been a menu high point. Large plates in­clude Cor­nish hen, trout, and eg­g­plant lasagna. Rus­tic ca­vatelli, nice and chewy, come in a sauce rich with house-made sausages. Crispy pan­grat­tato (es­sen­tially sautéed bread crumbs) pro­vides con­trast.

The food is con­sis­tently ex­cel­lent; the ser­vice is timely and warm. What­ever rep­u­ta­tion this part of El­gin once had is gone; Town has es­tab­lished a new bar.

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