Sitting between French-speaking Quebec and Anglo Ontario, Canada’s capital is best known as a political centre and home to the country’s celebrated National Gallery.
Last winter I took my father on a foodie tour of Capital Country in hopes of uncovering Ottawa’s top culinary tourism experiences. I was thrilled to discover local chefs creating fantastic fusion-inspired menus: Ontario meets Quebec on your plate.
The Arc Hotel is a stunning boutique property a stone’s throw from Parliament. The Arc Lounge offers a contemporary dining room popular with government officials and adventurous culinary tourists.
The Arc Lounge offers a wild assortment of distinctly Canadian dishes showcasing local producers. Highlights include Elk Ribs with Date Orange BBQ (roasted cauliflower purée, marinated le coprin mushrooms, pea shoot coulis) and BBQ Chip Crusted Lake Erie Pickerel (fingerling pancetta arugula croquette, kale walnut pesto, crème fraîche).
Courtyard Restaurant is located behind ByWard Market in a stunning 1827 heritage building. Brunch fans, ensure you make reservations in advance as its early-morning feasts are one of the most celebrated in the city.
The brunch menu at Courtyard Restaurant offers a thoughtful and creative take on your favourite early morning cravings. Highlights include French Toast (brioche stuffed with sweetened cream cheese, maple bacon, apple and sage compote, compressed fruit) and Smoked Duck Reuben (smoked duck pastrami, kimchee, rye french toast, miso mustard, sunnyside egg, house fries).
While all the restaurants I visited in Ottawa were stellar, Murray Street Kitchen stole my heart. I dare say it may be one of the top restaurants in Canada today, utilizing local ingredients and showcasing an innovative nose-to-tail kitchen philosophy.
Murray Street Kitchen offers carnivores a safe space to celebrate. Highlights include its infamous Poutine (hand cut spatzle, shredded duck leg confit, beast gravy, fresh cheese curds) and Petit Dejeuner (potato pancakes, smoked and confit pork belly, Ashton Harvest brown ale, XO cheddar fondue and garlic maple syrup).
Play Food and Wine is the perfect spot to stop for lunch after a stroll through ByWard Market. Chef Michael Moffatt has created a menu of wee pleasures perfect for sharing with friends at the table. He clearly wants us to play with his food.
The menu at Play Food and Wine focuses on tapas-style small plates perfect for sharing. Highlights include Bacon Burrata (grapefruit, hazelnut, truffle, toast) and Gnocchi (fennel, radicchio, oyster mushroom, olive).
Town Restaurant pokes fun at Ottawa’s status as the capital of Canada while still maintaining a small-town friendliness factor. The space features a slender dining room with overhead industrial lights and large chalk board featuring the kitchen’s menu and wine specials.
The menu at Town Restaurant fulfills our culinary comfort cravings. Highlights include Ricotta Stuffed Meatballs (soft polenta, san marzano) and Parmesan Sformato (butternut squash puree, walnut pesto, parmesan crisp).