If the cocktail scene in Canada’s capital is hot then the Ottawa restaurant scene is on fire. Since I last visited there are a few newcomers to the culinary landscape and a perennial favourite that has been serving all day breakfasts since 1986. There is a bite to satisfy everyone’s palette from Bannock to Bone and everything in between. People are often shocked when I tell them what great food I’ve had when I visit Ottawa, but they shouldn’t be. It is a vibrant city filled with locals and visitors alike with sophisticated tastes. They demand great food and the Ottawa restaurants I’ve visited deliver. Let’s eat!
During this visit, I am able to visit five restaurants. Four of them are brand new to me and one is must visit on every trip. They are listed in no particular order other than by when I visited them.
#1 Zak’s Diner 14 Byward Market Square – It’s 2 pm and you’re craving Eggs Benedict. Where do you go? Zak’s Diner in the Byward Market of course. This 24-hour Diner has been open since 1986 and it is an Ottawa institution. There is no Flo behind the counter but they’ll pour you a cup of coffee and take your order with a smile 24-hours a day. I ordered the Zak’s Omelette and it came loaded with home fries, toast and baked beans. I won’t need to eat for the whole day after this meal.
#2 Datsun 380 Elgin St – Craving a taste of Asia? Head down Elgin Street to Datsun and order some Asian inspired share plates. My friend Don joined me at the Chef’s Bar and we tucked into a feast of dishes. The menu changes based on what’s currently available so there is no guarantee you’ll be able to devour these Pork Belly Steamed Bun with Cucumber and Broad Bean Sauce or the pan fried Pork and Chive Dumplings. If you are in a hurry call order, place an order and pick up from their front window. It’s a grab and go Asian food to order.
#3 Riviera 62 Sparks St – Riviera is a triple threat restaurant. Killer location, amazing cocktail program by Bar Manager Stephen Flood, and fabulous food by Executive Chef Jordan Holley. Sit at the bar and be prepared to order with your eyes. As I enjoyed my cocktail I was watching the food being prepared and based on what I saw that’s what I ordered. Tuna Crudo with puffed Quinoa, Crusted Bone Marrow, and Braised Beef Short Rib on White Polenta are just some of the dishes I enjoyed. By far my best dining experience in Ottawa to date.
#4 Feast + Revel Andaz Ottawa Byward Market, 325 Dalhousie St – The recently opened Feast + Revel is another spectacular addition to the Ottawa restaurant scene. Open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner you will love your meal here. I came in for dinner with a friend and feast is an apt name for the restaurant, because that is what we did. Unless you are a Celiac start with the Bannock, it is addictive. The Seared Octopus was the tenderest I’ve ever tasted and the Elk Rib was of Flintstone proportions. We feasted and we revelled.
#5 Scone Witch 150 Elgin St – A visit to Ottawa for me is not complete without a visit to Scone Witch. Quite simply the best scones I’ve ever had and they have eleven flavours to choose from. Order a pot of tea, your favourite scone and a side of jam. My day is set and I’m in heaven. A bit hungrier than just a scone, not to worry to they make sandwiches out of them as well.
So there you have it. From all day breakfasts at a 24-hour diner to Fred Flintstone sized Elk ribs there is something for everyone in the Ottawa restaurant scene. If you happen to be going to Ottawa any time soon, please stop in at Scone Witch and pick me up a half dozen scones. I promise I will be your friend forever.