Union Local 613, Somerset W

I’ve had the pleasure of eating/drinking/enjoying Union Local 613 four times since they’ve opened. The service here is amazing. Super friendly staff.

Highlights
- an amazing wall covering
- views of the kitchen
- really good selection for late-night food, including entrees and fried chicken, and the menu changes
- deviled eggs (also available late-night)
- the swine (changes every day!)
- mason jar water glasses AND pints
- menu always changing (I know every restaurant says that but they actually seem to change it a lot)

Check out their menu online or better yet make a reservation and show up.

We went in for drinks at the very beginning, and they have a good selection on tap as well as wine. I look forward to when they open the speakeasy in the basement. rumor has it you will only be able to get one beer, one wine or whiskey! excellent!

For vegetarians they have a creative, and gluten-free option, as well as several salads.

The theme is a Canadian take on southern food but this place has something for everything.

Union Local 613 on Urbanspoon

315 Somerset St W
Ottawa, ON K2P
union613.ca
@unionlocal613

Table 40 (@Fraser Cafe) Rockcliffe

Table 40 is probably the most affordable table d’hote in the city. It’s 35$ per person for 3 courses. Not only that but it’s A LOT of food. you aren’t even supposed to be able to finish it, and when you don’t (you won’t) they’ll pack it up and send you home.

The idea is family-style meals. Harvest tables and food sharing. You will share a table with strangers, and you’ll share your food with your friends.

I thought you would actually share your food with strangers and I was ok with that, but turns out Ottawa isn’t ready for that (I assume) so you only share with the people you arrive with.

Table 40 is located next door to Fraser Cafe and the whole space is filled with 4 tables (one long table along one wall, and three shorter tables sticking out from the other wall. There’s a small bar at the back with about 4 seats.

In the entrance way there is a small lounge area, and we got our first taste of communal meals while we were sitting waiting for our table, and another group joined us on the couch. They obviously weren’t shy either and three of us squished onto the small couch.

Although we didn’t end up eating with the other group we had a nice chat. It really set the mood of the evening, with a casual and friendly atmosphere.

The place was bustling and we weren’t seen immediately however it was all good since we were in good company and comfortable (if squishily) seated.

The first course was an asparagus soup. It came in a copper pot on a plank. we were each given a bowl with peas and croutons in it, and there were pea shoots served on the side. Serve yourself/build your own soup, and it as excellent.

Our server was very friendly as were all the waitstaff that came by our table.

Our main was also served on a plank and was huge. The idea is actually that you won’t finish it, and we didn’t so we left with a doggy bag. The main was supposed to be ribs but we actually got brisket and and pulled pork. Both were excellent and hte onion rings were to die for. I actually wasn’t able to eat any of the bean salad that was served with it but had some the next day and it was really well balanced, with corn adding texture and sweetness.

Dessert was a strawberry crisp. All strawberries, juicy and flavorful. It’s great to be able to actually taste the fruit instead of just tasting water on those GMOs that we get from Cali.

The whole experience was excellent. And although it seems people in Ottawa are afraid of sharing tables, I hope this catches on. Although we were sharing a table with another couple, the table is large enough that you really didn’t intrude on each other’s conversations (although you could if you wanted to). And they seemed to be in the habit of always leaving one seat empty between each group, so you actually have more space than you would if you were at some restaurants in the city (at the Manx the tables actually touch each other sometimes, and in Boston at Aquitaine I sat at a table where I had to go sideways and lift my butt up above the table to get in, and I’m only 130lbs – luckily no one was at the next table to get a butt in their face)

the one thing I will say, is that in my family the TV was off at dinner (actually we didn’t even have a TV most of the time but if we did, it wouldn’t have been on during meals). I realize that Family dinner in America has gone downhill and that they wanted a casual atmosphere but the food network is really distracting and it’s hard to watch without volume. I say lose the TV’s.

Great experience, try it out!

Fraser Cafe on Urbanspoon

My Best of Ottawa

I’ve been reflecting a lot recently on being grateful, and on what a great city Ottawa is.

So, with that in mind, I’d like to do a best of list, which is HIGHLY opinionated, because it’s not a “user-rated” list it’s MINE, and it’s random.

Best Pizza – Back Lane Cafe. Must be those crazy expensive ovens they put in but this pizza is the best pizza I have had. Authentic Italian-style pizza like I have only ever had in Rome. This pizza is so good that you don’t even need any toppings. I always get the marg but I would eat the crust plane it’s that good
Back Lane Cafe on Urbanspoon

Best late-night drinks – Hintonburg Public House. Despite the fact that the service is terrible, it’s a fun place to go with a great scene, and the cheese curds can’t be beat
The Hintonburg Public House on Urbanspoon

Best Beer – Kichessippi Beer Co http://www.kbeer.ca/ They are only a couple years old but have several great beers and do free brewery tours on Saturdays. Stop by the brewery for a growler, it’s located in Ottawa proper near Carling and Churchill. Follow them on Twitter @kichesippibeer

Best newly opened: Brother’s Beer Bistro. Although I don’t frequent the market as much these days, this place is worth the trek. They have a beer-inspired menu with all beers organized by type. It’s a great place to take someone who doesn’t know much about beer because their knowledgeable staff and the menu itself provide a great learning environment.
Brother's Beer Bistro on Urbanspoon

Best fine-dining: The wellington Gastropub The great thing about this place is consistency. Consistently good service, great food and atmosphere.
Wellington GastroPub on Urbanspoon

Best hopeful: Union is said to open in mid July on Somerset W. I haven’t heard anything about it anywhere on the web but I’m excited because rumor has it they’ll be open late night with a full menu.

Best Bike shop: Kunstadt sports (Glebe). I send my friends here because of their affordable line of house-brand bikes. Even the bigger shops don’t do this, and Kunstadt has a bike of every type, from Road to cruiser and everything in between. These are entry-level bikes but they are great for the price and an excellent way to introduce people to cycling. When they want to upgrade, Kunstadt also has really great higher-quality bikes. The mechanics in the Glebe are also a huge plus because they have 2 senior mechanics working in the same shop. I’ve never had any issues with the quality of work at this shop. If you’re a road cyclist, join them on Mondays at 6 for a group ride, all levels welcome

Aquitaine, Boston MA

Great service at lunch! This place is quiet, but has a good winelist, fun cocktails, and some local brews.

The lunch special (soup, sandwich, salad) is a great deal, and the price you would pay is the same as if you got a similar setup at a greasy spoon.

If you’re not comfortable being in close proximity to your dining neighbors, make sure you go here when it’s not busy. I would have been sitting closer to the person at the next table than my partner had it not been almost empty when we visited.

Aquitaine on Urbanspoon

Aquitaine
(617) 424-8577

South End
569 Tremont St
Boston, MA 02118

aquitaineboston.com

Izakaya, Elgin

I was super excited to see that Ottawa finally has an Izakaya!

According to wikipedia, an Izakaya is a type of Japanese drinking establishment which also serves food to accompany the drinks. They are casual places for after-work drinking.

And they definetly do have an ample drink list. Lots of cocktails, and a full page dedicated to Sake.

If you look around at the wait staff you will think you’re at a classier version of Moxy’s. Their servers are beautiful people, so I was pretty suspect that we would be getting terrible service à la Moxy’s (I’ve heard that Moxy’s actually hires their servers from a modeling agency – seriously!?)

Anyways we were pleasantly surprised. Our server was AMAZING. I tried to get her name off the receipt but it just said “BAR PM” or something. We did sit on the bar side so I guess she was the bartender but there seemed to be a lot of people in and around the bar.

We were just there for snacks and appetizers but we tried a few of their raw plates and the pickles and a few of the cocktails and nothing disappointed.

The Caesar has fresh cilantro in it and it really make it taste fresh. I normally like my caesars to have a lot of horseradish but this one was perfect. Our server was super good about making our drinks to order (ie spicy caesars, mild caesars, non-spicy spicy mango margarintas etc)

The house pickles are really fresh and crunchy and all around good. All the raw plates were sampled were excellent as well. The food tastes fresh and is beautifully plated.

The only thing that dissappointed was that they didn’t have any other asian spirits besides sake. I was hoping for some Umeshu (plum wine) or Shochu (a spirit made from barley, sweet potatoes, rice, buckwheat or brown sugar, etc). Also there is no sushi on the menu but I assume that was on purpose. they do have mains and sharing plates, and a simple fresh menu.

They have kept the space more or less the same layout as Big Daddy’s used to be, so there is lots of space at and around the bar. We were there on Saturday night and although it go busy I don’t think it filled while we were there (from 6-830pm).

Izakaya on Urbanspoon

339 elgin st

Play Food & Wine, Byward Market

I haven’t been to play for a couple of years so I was excited to check it out. I love the wine wall immediately when you come in and they have a really solid system for coats (basically a coat check where you get a number).

I always find the service there friendly, and there dishes are always on point. We started with almost all the cheeses and the spicy chorizo, which isn’t that spicy (and I’m someone that doesn’t like any spice), but the mustard it’s served with is HOT. The menu is meat heavy but like at Beckta if you give them some advance notice they will hook you up.

Each plate has a suggested wine pairing, which I assume is available by the glass (though I didn’t check). If you’re ever there late at night be sure to grab their wine and cheese flight – it’s a cool way to try a few cheeses and wines (although this is a classic pairing, it’s actually a bit of a complicated one so It’s fun to see what they come up with).

Everything we had was really well balanced with great plating. My only complaint (of course there is something) is that the server couldn’t pronounce Auxerrois for his life. I know it’s not the easiest word in the world, but we live in Ottawa, where everyone SHOULD speak at least a little bit of French, and not being able to pronounce French words is a bit shameful, especially as that wine was being served by the glass, so it’s not like some obscure 200$ bottle that no one orders – it’s the first wines on the list. I also think that if you can’t pronounce a word, you should avoid saying it, especially if someone else said it first correctly (not me, someone I was with). So basically it seemed as if he was correcting the guy only he pronounced it EX-er-waw. It’s like nails on a chalkboard.

Great meal & service. Try the pudding.

1 York Street (at Sussex)
Byward Market
(613) 667-9207

Play on Urbanspoon

Suzy Q, Hintonburg

Doughnuts for breakfast, tacos for lunch, and hintonburger with a pint at the elmdale. Hintonburger has it all.

I can’t remember the last time I had a doughnut, but it was fluffy and full of air. I’m pretty sure it was from Tom Ho’s and there’s a reason it’s been so long since I’ve gone back.

Suzy Q is another kind of doughnut. It’s actually probably a real kind of doughnut, and we can thank Tim’s that we no longer recognize what a doughnut should be. These doughnuts have flavour, interesting types(bacon anyone?) and actually have some substance.

I can’t wait to go back and try a few more. The people there are great, and if you go early it’s not too busy and they’re all warm and delicious.

A plus on the service, friendly and customer-oriented. You can tell they are excited to be operating.

SuzyQ on Urbanspoon

Taco Lot, Hintonburg

Part of the hintonburg hipster trifecta along with Hintonburger and Suzy Q, the Taco lot just opened. it’s sitting on an old car lot (or perhaps a current car lot, there are still some cars for sale.

It’s a bit cold this weekend to sit in the outdoor seating, but the taco lot was still hopping today and yesterday.

The menu is simple. Today it was “Vegetarian, Salmon. ready at noon” When it was my turn to order I added “beef” to that list by request of the cashier, a sweet hippie girl.

The Taco Lot is the current talk of ottawa’s Foodie World, and they are doing well as a result. The wait is a bit long when you’re by yourself and it’s cold out but I’m sure they’ll catch up to the demand in a week or two once they’ve settled in their routine.

The corn & pineapple salsa is awesome and all the ingredients just taste fresh. It reminds me of my days in highschool working at a taco stand after bar hour.

Welcome to Hintonburg!
995 Wellington West

Taco Lot on Urbanspoon

Bao Sushi, New Westminster, BC

No one seems to be a big fan of New West. Most people wonder why I wouldn’t want to stay in Van and take the sky train into New West for work. The reason is that I hate commuting. I would rather be close to work and have to commute dt IF I decide to go there. I don’t want to HAVE to commute. So I chose to stay in New West, around the corner from the regional office.

This Sushi place was really good. It’s not a fancy sushi place but the rolls were fresh and tight, and the wakame salad was SO good (so good that was each had one to start, and then we had another one each afterwards).

Very friendly service, and it wasn’t too busy. There is a Ki Sushi place down the street but it’s owned by Chinese people and seems a bit too much like a chain operation. This place seemed more authentic, I recommend it.

Bao Sushi on Urbanspoon

Hintonburg Public House

Super excited to try out HPH last night, on their second night opening.

I love the decor, the aged wood is beautiful and they picked amazing photos to match it. I don’t think the photos are a permanent display but they’re wicked and really fit in well with the place.

There didn’t seem to be any music, and as somoene else noted the acoustics are not great. This is not a great place to bring mom & pops.

They have a massive bar area, with all mismatched chairs and stools (we were sitting along the wall on what must have been an old church pew. I can’t say enough good things about the space, it’s really well put together, I love it – come decorate my house!

The menu is short, but seems to have it’s bases covered. I’m going to bring in a vegan friend for more of a challenge next time. Everything we had was great, and although I sub’d my fries for salad, I was really impressed with the salad that came. It was full of fresh herbs and a really well balanced vinaigrette, and they used Boston Lettuce – who does that? It was a really nice change for a salad.

The steak was well-cooked, although I should have done my research because maybe the shoulder isn’t the best piece of meat to get rare. We also had the galette, soup, duck confit, and both desserts, and everything was really really good.

I think they should put some sort of draft stopper around the door, maybe a heavy curtained entrance like they used to have at Infusion Bistro in the Glebe or like at the black tomato. It would really help a lot with the drafts because there’s only one door, and while it was nice and toasty for the most part, as soon as the door opens it gets COLD. Hopefully that is “coming soon”

Friendly service and a great selection of mostly Ontario wines and lots of craft beers.

Welcome to the Burg!

The Hintonburg Public House on Urbanspoon

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