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Jan 11, 2010 01:54 PM

Ottawa Suggestions Sought

I am in Ottawa for three evenings at the end of the month.

Any suggestions for interesting food and good wine while I am there?

It has been over a year since I last visited.

Current favourites are Beckta, Whalebones, Wellington Gastropub, Benny's Bistro, Domus, Navarra, Stella and Murray Street.

I expect to get out to Wellington on at least one of the nights but any suggestions would be appreciated.

I am staying downtown and will not have a car but am willing to taxi.

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  1. I used to live in Ottawa, but haven't been there for a few years. Siam Bistro on Wellington was fantastic and we ate there regularly. If its still there, which I expect, I'd highly recommend it if you like Thai. Another great spot is Haveli's if you like Indian. Hope you enjoy!

    4 Replies
    1. re: jon.russell1212

      Haveli has gone quite downhill, from what I've heard. I recommend you instead check out Taj Mahal or New Nupur on Bank Street if Indian food is what you're craving.

      As for Thai, Siam Bistro also wouldn't be my #1 choice; it's my understanding that they use MSG in their cooking, which is the sign of a poor Thai restaurant. The two best Thai offerings in Ottawa, in my opinion, are Sweet Basil on Bank, and then its sister restaurant Anna Thai on Holland (see Other good options are Aiyara on Walkley and Coriander Thai, which I believe is on Kent.

      BTW, Ottawa's Thai and Indian scene are definitely worth checking out; I've always felt that these are two cuisines in which Ottawa far surpasses Toronto in terms of quality and flavour.

      As for interesting, more upscale food, you seem to have most of your bases covered in your list, Bob Mac, but I'd like to throw Sweetgrass Aboriginal Bistro out there, too: excellent native food, and thus quite a few unique offerings. Wonderful service and I've never had an experience there that wasn't fantastic.

      1. re: vorpal

        Thank you for your suggestions.

        I think I saw a comment about a new thin crust pizza place in or around the Market whose name I do not recollect. Any comments. A nice bottle of chianti and some good thin crust pizza might work if I am on my own.

        What about Beckta's PLAY or something to that effect? Is it worth a visit.

        Sweetgrass is a spot that I have "literally walked up the stairs" on a number of occasions but have usually ended up at another Murray St. location. I will keep it in mind.

        Thank you for the suggestions of the Indian and Thai fare, but both are foods that I prefer to eat and share in a group rather than when I am dining solo which is likely the case this trip.

        Thanks again.

        1. re: Bob Mac

          Stick to Navarra or Wellington Gastropub. For pub food in market, can't beat Chez Lucien's taste and price. Social is not bad and often forgotten.
          Went to Murray Street recently (the resto) and it was fairly disappointing. Have not tried Allium on Holland but that's well thought of.
          Stay away from Play, very expensive.

          1. re: Mouton Noir

            I would agree, Play is very inconsistent, though if you haven't been it is worth a try (once). My dining companions agree that Play doesn't really know what it wants to be - small plates ? wine bar ? once it figures that out it might hopefully improve. In general, I prefer Fourth Ave Wine Bar to Play.

    2. I will second the Wellington Gastropub and Whalesbone - both are consistently delicious with constant seasonal variety in the menus.

      I have been to allium ( many times, and it has always been good. Also in that end of town are Absinthe Cafe ( and Canvas Restobar (, both of which are good, however they all seem to end up having similar "bistro" style menus. Of the three, I prefer allium, but if you're in the neighbourhood I think the Wellington Gastropub wins my vote! Also try Petit Bill's Bistro - they have Tapas on Tuesdays I think.

      Newer in town are Steven Beckta's Play (, to which I have only been once, but thoroughly enjoyed, and the Fraser Cafe ( in New Edinburgh. I haven't actually managed to get into the Fraser Cafe as it is fairly small and usually packed, but I have been hearing good things, and its at the top of my must try list!

      I tried one bowl of soup at the pizza place I think you mean The Grand (, which was good but not exceptional. The atmosphere was nice, and the service was novice, but to be fair, I was only there for a half hour. I would go back and try the pizza.

      Have fun in Ottawa! I think its a good town to eat in.

      226 Nepean St, Ottawa, ON K2P0B8, CA

      430 Bank St, Ottawa, ON K2P1Y8, CA

      2 Replies
      1. re: sundaycruddysunday

        It looks like my "haunts" from previous trips will work but if something new arises I would like to hear about it.

        Thanks very much all.

        1. re: Bob Mac

          Back in Edmonton after a couple of days in Ottawa.

          The "weather gods" conspired to make the flight back a tiring one as a snow squall delayed departure and caused me to miss my connection in Toronto. That, the two hour time difference and bad airport wine and boring food made for a pretty rough say nothing of the fact I cannot find my sunglasses and case...memo to self, pack all that "stuff" in one's luggage and not the chance of bringing it with you as I think it probably was left in the pocket of the seat when I exited in TO.,,,oh, well did manage to "retrieve" my cellphone on my last evening thanks to the good staff at D'Arcy McGee's....that is another story....

          Did not get out much but did try Play on a couple of evenings as well as the Grand.

          Play was very good. Yes it can be expensive as we have discovered with many places featuring "small plates" like for example, Stage in Victoria. But at least the food on the "small plates" was good. Enjoyed the sable fish and bok choy good as I have had on the "west coast", beef tartare and on another visit the hangar steak. Great beef with a terrific charred exterior.

          Not surprisingly, a very good wine list with a number to try complemented by good staff [Anne Marie, Jeff...sorry I forgot the names of the others]

          On my last evening I went for a walk up Elgin and then over to Bank but a cold wind got me to wondering where I could warm up and I thought I remembered a wine bar in the area. Meandered down a couple of side streets until I spied Sommerset which seemed familiar.

          It was. I popped into B-Side for some pork stuffed won tons served over a delicious tomato jam and some grilled quail and nice glass of wine.

          The nite before I did wander down to the Grand in the Market and I did enjoy an arugula salad and Margherita pizza with some decent chianti. I enjoy thin crust and this worked for me. Would not be there all the time but I enjoyed it and the service and chat with the servers as is normally the case I sat up at their bar.

          Did not make it out to the Wellington this trip, maybe the next time.