There is no better way to get to the heart of a city than through its food and beverages, and Ottawa-Gatineau is no exception. Once maligned for its non-existent foodie scene, the last fifteen years have seen a complete 180 in the region’s reputation, with established restaurateurs continuing to innovate, constantly opening new establishments to satiate the growing Ottawan appetite. Here are some of the amazing foodpreneuers that are blazing a trail and putting Ottawa-Gatineau firmly on the culinary map:
Friendly and professional. Polished and welcoming. Beckta Dining & Wine Bar, an Ottawa institution of fine dining sits within the beautiful, 140 year old Grant House, whose comfort and elegance is only fitting for Beckta’s innovative plates and attentive service. The five course tasting menu is the star of the dining experience, where your knowledgeable server will guide your selections in this exclusive and interactive gastronomic event. Seared East Coast scallops are elevated with popcorn puree, fennel and parsley salad, roasted celeriac, kohlrabi, watercress, and pecan and dill vinaigrette, and a house-cured salmon gravlax with hung yogurt, fresh dill, and shaved beets pops on the plate. Add a wine pairing for the ultimate indulgence! If 5-courses is too much for you, Beckta also offers an elegant and delicious a-la-carte menu in the dining room. If you prefer to keep it more casual, enjoy the small bites, comforting mains, and exciting wine and cocktail list at the Wine Bar, a cozy and approachable nook attached to the Dining Room.
With a delightful energy and passionate clientele, Play Food and Wine thrills diners with its modern, small plates, local and sustainable products, and open-concept kitchen. You will never be overwhelmed by the extensive choice of dishes, thanks to the approachable and knowledgeable servers. From a rich duck liver mousse, to grilled halloumi cheese, to the moreish dry rub crispy pork ribs, you won’t want to share, but it is recommended that you do! Order three small plates each to get the full experience. To complement the food, a well-curated wine list will provide the perfect accompaniment to every dish.
Within a converted 1950’s bank building in the heart of Westboro Village, Gezellig provides extraordinary food and wine in an intimate setting. From the Dutch term meaning convivial, cozy, or nice atmosphere, the entire venue, from the knowledgeable servers to the modern and fresh food, is designed to give you a feeling of being deeply cared for. Inspired by many international cuisines, the menu is full of comforting favourites-made-modern, such as crispy blue crab cake, house-made gnocchi, and braised Canadian lamb shank, all in-season and using local produce.
With two locations in Ottawa (Byward Market and Lansdowne Park) and one in Gatineau (Les Promenades Gatineau) Cacao 70 Eatery continues its rapid expansion into almost every corner of the country. Dominating the dessert market, this sweet treat eatery features dessert pizza (warm and sweet pizza crusts topped with melted chocolate, fruit, and candy), traditional waffles and crepes, ice creams, and cheesecakes. The stars of the show, however, are sharing plates for two such as “A Little Bitter Chocolate”; a classic waffle topped with icing sugar, graham crackers, fresh strawberries, bananas, and two servings of chocolate covered ice cream. But that’s not all; it is served with a dark chocolate dipping fondue and marshmallows that you can roast with your own grill. Heavenly!
The best way to learn about a city is to explore its neighbourhood food markets, discover local produce and dishes, and meet area chefs and food artisans. C’est Bon’s gourmet walking tours are an ideal introduction to the national capital region’s vibrant food scene. One of the best tours is The Courtyards Tour, focusing on the West side of the ByWard Market, Canada’s oldest marketplace. Your C’est Bon Guide will weave you through this bustling market zone of both local and international flavours. Stops include LaBottega Nicastro, Play Food & Wine and the Tea Store.