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Aug 18, 2009 06:46 AM

Special Dinner in Ottawa

Hi. New to Chowhound and to this board. Have done a search and have looked at other sources but would really appreciate suggestions.

I’d like up-to-date recommendations for a special restaurant. My husband and I will celebrate our 20th anniversary in September – and have marked the occasion with a trip to London earlier this summer. When the actual day rolls around in September, we thought to dine out and would like to take along our 14 and 12-year old daughters – so I’d ask for a romantic spot – but given we want to bring the children, I’ll settle for “special”.

Our reception was held in the Adam Room at the Chateau – so Wilfrid’s may be an easy choice – but wasn’t in love with it when last I went (which was, admittedly, for our 15th anniversary and haven’t found many recent reviews - should I reconsider?). Merlot did not impress. Henri Berger is long gone. Hy’s is fine but not quite what I’m looking for and who knows how Signatures may reinvent itself (although I’m willing to consider it if anyone has insight). Benitz? Beckta? Others have suggested Allium, Juniper and Cafe Paradiso. We'd like a rather smart and "dressed up" setting.

Canadian/French/Continental cuisine is preferred but open to others (DH in particular loves Italian). The girls eat most everything (one not too adventuresome (offal etc)) and the only thing I need to concern myself with is my allergy to shrimp/lobster/crab (all other seafood fine and very much liked). Don’t know how to put this without sounding too crass – but not concerned about budget - at least in this instance.

Any suggestions for the Ottawa/Gatineau area for a special evening? If not for the superb food (a bit contradictory to this board!) then for the adequate food and superb atmosphere (eg Wakefield Dinner Train?) I appreciate your time and opinions. We have tended to stick to our neighbourhood favorite restos. I guess we don't get out much anymore!

Many thanks

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  1. The food at Domus Cafe is always good, but it is not exactly "dressed-up".

    Les Fougeres in Old Chelsea is always good too. Definitely "dressed-up".

    I went to Juniper once for dinner, and enjoyed the food.

    You could, of course, take a trip to Montreal and eat at Europea ! Amazing food in elegant surroundings.

    1. Just read your post and maybe I am too late, but my husband and I had an excellent dinner at Wilfrid's last month (Aug 09). We spent a week in Canada and dined at the Terrapin Grille, Niagara, Canoe and Lai Wah Heen, Toronto, Wilfrid's in Ottawa, Jardin Nelson and Gibby's in Montreal. Wilfrid's was the best dinner we had! I had the osso bucco and LOVED it; my husband had a different veal dish and is still talking about it. I recommend Wilfrid's for your special occasion!

      1. I didn't realize I was posting so late but I thought I would throw in my two cents.

        You have a lot of choices. To start, Beckta, considered by many to be THE dining experience in Ottawa (great food and service). PLAY, sister of Beckta, is a bit more casual but is also very good.

        Wellington Gastropub isn't necessarily formal but always very good. There are also a number of places in the Byward market that worth visiting including Sweetgrass (aboriginal - as Canadian as you can get), Navarre, Murray Street.

        For something a little different, Atelier has been getting rave reviews for its gastro technology. I've never been but I've never heard a complaint.

        1 Reply
        1. re: ceebee1

          I was going to chime in and sound like a broken record and also suggest Sweetgrass. It may not be *quite* as dressy as the OP would like, but the service is excellent and very professional, and the food is superb (and the allergy would certainly not be a problem) and as Canadian as it gets. This has been my best dining experience since moving back to the Ottawa region.

        2. I'm going to second Beckta and Domus, and throw in Signatures - they open again in September, according to their website.

          1. Le Café at the National Arts Centre is a great place to go for dinner. You can easily dress up and your daughters will certainly find something on the menu to enjoy. My daughter, who is now 22, has been joining us there for special occasion meals for years. And the prix fixe makes it doubly attractive. Admittedly, it's a kind of unusual location, but if the weather is nice, sitting on the patio by the canal is charming. And it's certainly the best value for money both in terms of cost and portions.

            Allium is very good - Monday nite is Tapas - but maybe not "dressed-up" enough for the occasion.

            I personally enjoy Beckta's and the little Greek restaurant across the street, whose name escapes me, is very nice.

            Les Fougères is consistently good but it depends how far you want to drive. I typically go there for brunch, which is especially lovely at this time of year with the gardens.

            Finally, whatever the rotating restaurant on top of the hotel on Queen Street is called these days, is a nice night out. Once the sun begins to set the experience is something else.

            Enjoy and congratulations. E

            1 Reply
            1. re: cat7

              place across the street from Beckta is called A'Roma - very inventive and fairly consistently impressive small plates. t