Looking for some Ottawa suggestions
- Gary Soup May 30, 2005 02:26 AM
I'm due for my annual New York-Montreal (or Toronto) swing in a month or so, and thinking about doing a couple of days in Ottawa, since I haven't been there for about 50 years. What's to eat? I'll be alone, and I'm not into high-end restos nor wine (though I gotta have a beer with my dinner). What I'm looking for is:
- Best Chinese options (realizing that Ottawa's Chinatown is mostly Vietnamese)
- Good Vietnamese
- Peculiar (or not) local specialties
- Any other well-represented ethnic food
- Worthy pubs or brewpubs
- Markets where I can find some good hard cheeses or anything else worthwhile to take back that US Customs can't deny me (I think I'm on their watch list).
For pub food and atmosphere, I'd recommend The Manx on Elgin Street (near Gladstone), especially their Sunday brunch. Get there early though, the place fills up fast. It's also a great little pub in terms of beer choices. The Barley Mow (Bank Street near Euclid in Ottawa South), isn't too bad for pub food. Monday night is trivia night. Any of the Royal Oaks are usually high on atmosphere. Food is so-so.
Chinese/Vietnamese, I'd recommend the highly reliable Mekong on Somerset. Shanghai (almost next door) is fun and trendy, though the food isn't as good. The New Mee Fung is also very good and it's located at 350 Booth Street between Somerset and Gladstone. Also very popular is Jadeland on Somerset. I've never been, but have heard good things. There's another Chinese restaurant that is very famous for its egg rolls -- people drive from Montreal to get them! I don't know the name but perhaps another person will.
Good stores for cheese are any of the Nicastros (e.g. Bank and 3rd Avenue in the Glebe, La Bottega in the Byward Market, and there are numerous other cheese shops in the Byward Market in the stores on the same side as the produce stalls (sorry, I can't remember their names).
Local specialities? Of course, you'll always have poutine, beaver tails and maple syrup candy. Otherwise, if you can get anything from Mariposa Farms (organic meat) or Bryson Farms (organic vegetables), you're in for a treat.
Have a great trip!
The restaurant in Ottawa famous for its egg rolls is the Golden Palace on Carling Avenue in the west end. This is a place that hasn't change one iota since I first ate there as a teenager in the mid '60s (even the same waiters). Typical 50s and 60s Cantonese fare, but the egg rolls are awesome. Huge, open end, meaty, nicely spiced mmmmmmm! The BBQ Chicken Balls and Chicken Almond Guy Ding are also superb. Those 3 items constitute my choices whenever I go. I've also been known to pick up a couple of dozen egg rolls to take as my contribution to a pot luck party and have instantly become the most popular attendee. (I think I'm going to have to go pick some up for supper - it's been way too long!)
Chinese, I would personally recommend May's, which is at Somerset & Preston. It is Szechuan and very good. Otherwise, Jadeland, on Somerset, is reliable; Mekong I would stay away, as its slightly pricier and quality has dropped a bit; So Good, on Somerset, west of Bronson, is excellent as well and the owner, Peter So, is a character. Try the eggplant dish at So Good; and the Chinese resto on the southeast corner of Somerset/Bronson sorry the name escapes me but it is the red building. It is very good Cantonese.
I would generally stay away from the Byward Market, but there are couple places I'd recommend. Pubs: Chez Lucien @ Murray/Dalhousie and Paddy Bolands on Clarence. As for Market restaurants, my favourites are Cafe Spiga (Portuguese/Italian) at Murray/Dalhousie; and Black Cat Cafe, although it is pricey.
ON Elgin Street, Manx pub DEFINITELY. Across the street, Lieutenant Pump is not bad.
I have definitely got to try Jadeland!
I went to So Good once and the food was terrible. Practically inedible. I was very disappointed because it had come highly recommended by a number of people. I HATE when that happens! Maybe I just got a bad day.
I haven't been to the Black Cat in ages but it got a very good review in the Citizen.
I agree with the comment about So Good. The food there was terrible and I now understand why I don't see any Asian there. At one point, one of the managers told me to go to try So Good. She told me "It is so good!" I came back to tell her it was so bad and will never go there to eat.
My two cents worth! I think you would enjoy these places and feel comfrotable dining on your own.
Chinese - Mandarin Ogilvie especially for dim sum
Vietnamese - New Mee Fung - great soups
Pubs - Manx (Elgin St), Clocktower (they brew as well)
Local specialties - Beavertails (located in the Market - sweet dough sprinkled with sugar and other stuff)
Thanks for the suggestions. The posts will be nestled in my PDA. A couple more questions:
Despite my initial narrow parameters, I also wouldn't be averse to a moderately-priced (but INFORMAL) resto featuring Canadian cuisine (whazzat?) or bistro-style French (the likes of choucroute, cassoulet or steak frites -- to hell with nouvelle).
Also, any outstanding fish 'n chips (with LARGE chips)?
Finally, is there anyplace in Ottawa where I can find Screech Rum?
re: Gary Soup
Carmen's Verandah on Bank Street in Ottawa South (just south of Sunnyside)recently got a great review. I've been there for lunch and it was good. You'll definitely need a dinner reservation though coz it's pretty small. Flying Piggies is very popular, but its location kinda sucks if you're here visiting. It's in deep Ottawa South off Bank Street, past or near Heron. Domus in the Byward Market specializes in local ingredients. I've had two good meals there and one inedible brunch. People rave about Stoneface Dolly's on Bronson Avenue. I've had one so-so meal there. However, don't take my word coz most people adore the place. Urban Pear is excellent and uses fresh and local ingredients. I don't know about dining alone -- I find it's not really set up for that. However, if you're interested it's in the Glebe on Second Avenue off Bank. Beckta, as you have probably read, is outstanding AND you can sit at the bar. It's expensive though. For steak/frites you could try Von's in the Glebe (on Bank near Fourth Avenue). Not the best, but pleasant enough. I don't usually go to the Quebec side for dinner -- don't know why as there are some amazing restaurants there -- I guess there's not much else in Hull (ooops! Gatineau) to pull me in. The only place I can think of that has great fish and chips is the Glen, but that is VERY out of the way in a Kanata strip mall. I noticed that the Royal Oak on the canal (Echo Drive at Pretoria)offers Fish and Chip Fridays, but I don't know what the quality is like. In terms of Screech, I think you can buy it at any LCBO (Liquor Control Board of Ontario) store.