Ok, where do I start here? I was driving west on Wellington with my partner when it popped into my head that this place was opening soon, and we were hungry. We saw the door was open and some people were milling in and out of the restaurant, so we stopped the car and checked it out... and I'm really glad we did.
We were greeted by a server who said he would have to ask the owner if we could dine there since it was the opening party for friends and family. I explained to the owner that I just happened to come by the place and I was really curious and I was seated immediately. I appreciate the gesture, considering I wasn't even invited!
The food, where to start. We had great starters: a wonderful buffalo mozza and heirloom tomato salad with micro herbs, and another with arugala, goats cheese, grapefruit and grilled treviso. Wow, great presentation, the flavours were fresh and well balanced. I'll add now that they used Bryson Farms organic veg whenever possible throughout our meals, just before I forget... a nice touch indeed. On to our mains, she had the grilled pickerel on beans, peas, with double smoked bacon and what seemed to be a basil oil? Mine was a fennel crusted pork loin on some creamy wild rice with mushrooms and pan squash... whoa. It was AMAZING. Perfectly prepared meats, hers wasn't overcooked (important with a delicate pickerel fillet) and mine was just slightly pink in the middle (very important with pork tenderloin)... the flavours were so earthy with the pickerel, and mine... was just amazing. I can't explain it! Since everything was going so well, we thought desserts were well in order. She got the homemade icecream and sorbet, and I got the chocolate cake with whiskey caramel sauce. Again, mindblowingly good. I hope that chocolate cake and caramel sauce are a permanent fixture on the menu, as well as the peanut butter icecream.
The atmosphere was very hip. Tin ceilings, mismatched furniture, refinished hardwood floors... the bar was very nice... the stairwell coming up was completely refinished... a major improvement from the previous establishment!
The service was excellent, given the circumstances. It was packed, we came unexpected, it was getting late'ish. We never felt rushed or unwelcome, which, under the circumstances, was really nice of them. I mean, we essentially crashed a restaurant opening! Our server was very attentive, very busy, but on his feet. The owner greeted us personally, and came by to check on our meal. Very nice!
The price is a little high, not excessive, but I felt it was justified for the quality of the food. Meals ranged between $18-23 I believe. Beer and wine were both reasonably priced for the quality of their selection.
Overall, I really enjoyed this place. They made us feel welcome even though we weren't invited, but the food was outstanding and the service deserves a nod too. This is now one of my favourite Ottawa restaurants. It's hopefully going to raise the bar (high quality food, reasonable prices) in the Ottawa restaurant scene, something we've needed for a long, long time. It's been too long that Ottawans have settled for subpar food at high prices. Treat yourself and a few others, go to Wellington Gastropub without delay!