Though often a city overlooked, Ottawa has an extremely vibrant restaurant scene. At the head of these edgy restaurants are some of the most interesting Chefs you could possibly come across. Many have traveled the world, invented new concepts and have won culinary awards for their expertise. The ability to captivate people through their taste buds is a feature in itself. These Chefs not only satisfy our hunger, they tantalize all of our senses. Bringing us to a higher level of euphoria, surrounding us with innovative food and novel atmospheres.
Taking a brief journey through the lives and restaurants of these Chefs can open our eyes to their incredible imaginations. It takes a certain kind of Chef to appeal to the masses and maintain an inspiring height of creativity. With varied prices, these restaurants are a fine dining experience with a price point for every budget. Ottawa is fortunate to house these talented Chefs.
Chris Lord- Chef/Owner of Union 613
Here is a restaurant inspired by southern hospitality, with a Canadian influence. Chef Chris, founded his restaurant in 2012. Upon visiting their website you will see a message to support the local food bank. Obviously, this is an important cause for the owner and Chef. With communal seating and a rustic decor, this restaurant is sure to spark conversation among the patrons. The light fixtures are clear milk bottles, and their beer taps are knife handles and a rolling pin. To top it off, they have a local artist’s work featured. A rotating exhibit where all purchase proceeds go directly to the artist. Menu items don’t exceed $20, making it affordable for all. Unique dinner items include: Deviled Eggs- with gherkins, trout roe and bacon for $8, Cast Iron Duck Hearts- with avacado, ancho sauce and chopped peanuts for $8, Ritz Crusted Louisiana Catfish- pecan purée, wilted frisée and lemon at $17, Coffee Cured Hog Jowl- honeycrisps, pickled beet, mint and benne, ginger-sorghum dressing also $18. With an open mind, this menu is sure to be as unique as the atmosphere.
Steve Mitton- Chef/Owner Murray Street
A graduate of the Culinary Institute of Canada in PEI, Chef Mitton from Fredericton, NB, has made Murray Street his professional home. Interestingly, he began his culinary career in the same building, where he is now, Chef and co-owner along side Paddy Whelan. Chef Mitton prides himself in being a nose-to-tail chef, leaving no parts of meat to waste. After spending 16 years in the Black Forest in Germany, he mastered his skills in butchery and charcuterie. Chef Mitton always looks to local farmers ad suppliers for the season’s best and glancing through their online gallery is sure to complicate your dinner decision making process. Even menu items that seem to be traditionally Canadian, have additional delicious flare. The poutine- contains hand-cut spätzle, duck confit, beast gravy, La Folie goat cheese curds, all for just $12. Other notable menu items include: Dan’s beef- overnight braised short rib, wilted kale, fresh corn, potato gnocchi, smoked pigs head and short rib broth and Lankaaster gouda for $20. Their menu items are subject to change daily and they post updates on Facebook and Twitter.
Marc Dorion- Chef/Owner of Town
With a large chalkboard, Edison lights and servers in casual black t-shirts, one is likely to underestimate the deliciousness within these walls. On the about us page, Town boasts a strong tie to the local suppliers, farms and ranches in Ottawa. Stating that their plates aren’t just food. Instead, think of them like a short story, narrating what the region has to offer. The decor makes you feel at home, not the kind of home with plastic on the sofas, but the kind of home where you can relax and stay in all day. The menu is packed with items you will want to bite into such as: Crispy Pork Belly and Octopus- with white beans, endive, parsnip purée and a caper vinigarette for $16, Notorious P.I.G- a pork tenderloin roll, mustard braised lentils, apple and parsley salad, mostarda, butternut squash purée and parsnip at $25. Each of these items are boasting with originality and well executed composition, you are sure to make more than one trip to Town.
Ross and Simon Fraser- Chefs and Owners of Fraser Café
In the far East corner of Ottawa, lies a quaint Café owned by brothers Ross and Simon Fraser, respectfully called Fraser Café. Since opening their doors in May of 2008, these brothers have maintained the idea that fantastic food lies in simplicity, using the best ingredients available and upholding a casual lively environment. They also assert reasonable prices. It becomes obvious that they succeed in their efforts as they maintain a %100 score on Urbanspoon. A unique brunch item would be: Okonomiyaki – fried egg, house bacon, bbq sauce and a miso-iceberg salad $14. For lunch a Beef Empenada- roasted tomatillo sauce, cumin sour cream and black beans $16. A dinner for two at $49 includes roast chicken and pork belly- barbeque sauce, soft polenta, slaw, jus and mustard. Aside from Fraser Café, these two brothers also accommodate a private dining atmosphere for Monday dinners, called Table 40. The seating is communal and the meal is served family style. These brothers put their customers first and strive for perfection.
Chris Deraiche- Chef/Owner of Wellington Gastropub
The Wellington Gastropub opened in 2006. Through the innovation of Chef Deriache, the menu changes daily and the focus remains on locally sourced and seasonal ingredients. So much so that, there is an in-house cask brew available in limited quantities. The creative invention doesn’t stop at the kitchen door. The White Room holds a unique experience for its patrons. The idea is loosely based on a book club. However, in The White Room, guests are invited to spend an evening listening to a classic vinyl LP. Guests are asked to make a minimum donation, in advance, of $25. All proceeds are donated to the Parkdale Food Bank. This includes one featured beer sampler, and Gastropub canapés. Rules include: arriving 30 minutes early, cell phones off and no conversation. There is a 15 minute break between Side One and Side Two, giving just enough time to order another drink and have a washroom break. Interesting items on the menu for the restaurant are: Crispy Duck Tenders- grilled romaine, radish, pickled onions, gribiche sauce, zucchini relish $13, Angus Reserve Ribeye- crispy rice cake, green beans with sesame, miso hollandaise $32. With a relaxed casual atmosphere and choice menu options each diner is certain to have a distinctive experience.
Michael Moffatt- Chef/Partner Beckta
Chef Moffatt is a graduate of the Algonquin College of Culinary Arts and also chairs the Advisory Board for Algonquin’s Culinary program. He began working for the Beckta family of restaurants as Sous-Chef in 2003. By 2006, Chef Moffatt was running the show as Chef. In 2009, he gained the role of Executive Chef and Partner, proceeding the opening of Play, Food and Wine. He became Ottawa’s only Chef to win the Gold Medal Plate twice, in 2007 and 2010. In 2012, Chef Moffatt was able to bring his award winning skills to the table once more, by the opening of Gezellig, the third restaurant for the Beckta sisterhood. Menu items from Beckta, where it all started, include: Crispy Veal Sweetbreads-roasted cauliflower, pickled scapes, creamy grits, popcorn and white pine syrup $20, Ontario White Perch- seared fillet, fresh avocado, radish, bergamot reduction, persimmon, mâche and wheat beer battered pickles. There is also a Chef’s 5-course tasting menu available for $85 per person, plus $39 for wine pairings or an 8-course menu for $110 plus $75 for wine pairings.
Marc Lepine- Chef/Owner of Atelier
The sole indication that you are standing outside of Atelier is the number on the door. Chef Marc Lepine is an Ottawa Chef who has owned Atelier since 2008. Proudly, Chef Lepine has taken home wins in the following competitions: Gold Medal Plate 2011, Canadian Culinary Champion of 2012, and a $10, 000 first prize win from the International Shellfish Competition in PEI in 2012. Though the menu they post online is only a sample of what their 12-course meal looks like, it is none the less impressive. The 12-course meal is $110 and wine pairing is an additional $75 per person and the sample menu includes no details, instead just original suggestive titles: Bubbles, Black and Green, Welcome to the Jungle, Yolko Uno, The Alien, Gatineau Park, The Codfather, Caesar Salad, The Boar Identity, Snow Globe, Polkaroo and One Year Later. With titles like that, there is no way the food could be anything less than inspired.
Michael Blackie- Chef/Owner NeXT
Venturing to the West side of Ottawa, in a town called Stittsville, is a hidden gem. Though it is not going to break the bank to dine here, it will win your heart. The kitchen is open to the dining room and it has two sides, in order to accommodate private events. The ceilings are high, though the atmosphere remains cozy. The open dining room and sharing concept that NeXT has to offer, is undoubtedly going to leave you so very full, but, yearning to try more. The menu is ever changing and Chef Blackie’s, 22 years of culinary experience, several culinary awards and medal wins are evident. Also, set to be seen on Chef Off on the Foodnetwork, this Chef has brought the downtown fine dining experience to the suburbs. Offering Sunday brunch on a 30-inch sharing board, at $28.50 per person. Lunch is offered on Thursdays and Fridays with two dishes for $19, incentive for sharing. The dinner menu has options such as: Emmental Cheese and STS Summer Sausage Pan Melter- Première Moisson bread, pommery mayo $9, Dr. Who Melon Compression- rocket leaves, ricotta salata, ginger and green peppercorn balm $10, Smoked Haddock and Lobster Chowder- thyme, fingerling potatoes, charred corn and milky broth $12. Chef Blackie often visits tables personally after service, making each patron feel special is important to the success of this upscale suburbia dining experience.