Downtown Ottawa suggestions please, lunch and dinner
I'll be staying part of October and all of November in Ottawa for work, will be staying dowtown (Minto or Marriott probably, not sure yet), I prefer walking but will have a car most of the time.
I like everything (French, Italian, Japanese, Vietnamese, Thai, Lebanese, Indian...), but I'm not a big meat eater (small portions of good cuts is fine by me, forget sausages). I've never had an amazing restaurant experience in Ottawa (except for A'Roma, which I really liked the few times I went) but then again I haven't tried that many places either:-)...
You have a lot of great choices. I'm constantly suprised at the variety and quality of Ottawa restaurants.
The Byward Market has some excellent restaurants - PLAY, Navarra, Sweetgrass, Domus. I highly reccommend the Wellington GastrPub in the west end (you'll need the car for this one).
For lunches, I'm assuming that you will want takeout. I work near the Minto - stay away from that food court!. I love Sconewitch - their scone sandwiches are a real treat (Albert west of Lyon). Caffe Zucchero on Queen west of Lyon. Think Lunch on Bank Street between Albert and Slater - love the chicken club sandwich.
I'd second the rec for Sconewitch. The scones are big, buttery and delicious. Lots of choices for flavours...
If you're staying at the Minto, I'm assuming you'll have a kitchenette. Try to get to True Loaf at 573 Gladstone for great sourdough, fougasse, etc. (They don't do pastries, though, if you're looking for croissants.) Open Tuesdays through Saturdays 7h00 - 13h00
Haveli used to be good, but over the years its gone tremendously downhill, especially the market location. Ottawa does, however, have really good Indian food (much better than Toronto, in my opinion and in the opinion of the east Indian people I've spoken with), so I do recommend you check it out. New Nupur is great, and Taj Mahal even better. Both are on Bank Street, considerably south of the downtown core.
Another thing to check out is the French Baker on Murray Street just west of Dalhousie. Fantastic croissants. Pick some up for a snack or light lunch. Right across the street is Sweetgrass Aboriginal Bistro, which is an extremely unique restaurant (you won't find anything like it in Toronto, for example) that services excellent aboriginal food (lots of interesting game) accompanied by impeccable service.
For vegetarian, you could try Zen Kitchen, at 634 Somerset Street West. It hasn't been open long, but is getting good press. Note that I haven't eaten there yet myself...
From the dinner menu:
Hand cut ravioli with mizuna-scape pesto filling, mushroom ancho cream, chilli oil, seared seasonal greens 19
Medallions of seitan in a lemon-caper sauce, with pearl couscous pilaf and seasonal vegetables 19
New Caesar salad with grilled miso-apple dengaku age tofu skewers/ Gluten-free. 17
Thai-style lemongrass curry with seasonal vegetables, edamame and kafir-scented jasmine rice. Gluten-free. 19
Udon noodles with lobster mushrooms, simmered seasonal vegetables, applewood-smoked tofu and tempura maki sushi 19