Dining Guide #3 West of the Rideau
Part Three of the Dining Guide focuses on the restaurant-rich neighbourhoods of Ottawa’s western front, from Chinatown and Preston Street, to Westboro, down to Centrepointe, and as far west as Bells Corners.
As for every entry in this year’s guide, these are restaurants I recommend, some unequivocally, others with reservations, but, for whatever mood you’re in, budget that fits you or demographic you fit into, you should be able to find something that suits.
Please keep in mind: this list is a guide only, based on my experiences; there’s no guarantee of what you will find.
Loosely based on a three-course dinner for two, with taxes, but before drinks or gratuity.
$: Under $40
$$: $40 to $70
$$$: $70 to $100
$$$$: Over $100
726 Somerset St W., 613-230-6815 $
Fresh, hot, fast and a very good blend of Vietnamese and Chinese cuisines, run by very fine people. Fish is a strength, so are salad rolls and lemongrass chicken.
495 Somerset St. W., 613-233-4687 www.hot-peppers.ca $$
They call themselves an “expressive Thai restaurant” with an upstairs wine bar. Fried oysters, curried mussels, spicy crab cakes with mango sauce, steamed salmon with plum and ginger.
625 Somerset St. W., 613-233-0204 $
It’s not the decor that has folks lined up out its door. Maybe it’s the food: pickerel with chili and garlic, squid with snow pea tips, bitter melon and beef in black bean sauce.
Jo Moon Ting
832 Somerset St. W., 613-237-8887 $
Ten tables in a pokey little room, or take away counter with its window-view of BBQ treats. Either way, in-house or to-go, the house chicken, roast pork and BBQ duck are the way-to-go.
637 Somerset St. W., 613-237-7717 www.mekong.ca $
Vietnamese, Chinese and Thai dishes on the menu. Seafood is treated well. Good too are the soups, pot stickers, shrimp dumplings, crispy beef, braised duck.
New Mee Fung
350 Booth St., 613-567-8228 $
Large dining room with a large menu. Order by number. Try No. 223 lemongrass chicken, or No. 136 spicy satay with rice noodle.
New Pho Bo Ga La
761-763 Somerset St. W., 613-233-2222 $
Pho is noodle soup. Bo is beef, Ga is chicken and La is the large, extended family that runs this place and a few others on the strip.
Pho Thu Do
765 Somerset St. W., 613-235-7116 $
One of the originals and as plain-Jane as they come. Chipped formica and permanently scarred linoleum. But the sweetly scented noodle soups are wonderful.
651 Somerset St. W., 613-233-4001 www.shanghaiottawa.com $
Mandarin martinis, Brazilian rhythms, Disco bingo, Karaoke Saturdays … this isn’t your typical Chinese restaurant, though it is the region’s oldest. Food’s all over the place too – North American Cantonese to Thai curries to Malaysian calamari.
690B Somerset St. W., 613-233-3288 $
For the sushi-novice? Try the “I Like My Sushi Cooked” combo; for the well initiated? “Sashimi Surprise.” Dining alone? “Sashimi Just For Me.”
819 Somerset St. W., 613-238-6758 $
First-rate seafood: scallops with lemongrass and chilies, shrimp with fresh pineapple, sea bass in black bean sauce. Sizable vegetarian section.
422 Preston St., 613-235-7454 www.allegroristorante.ca $$$
A traditional restaurant comfortably settled into its way of doing things, with a familiar menu and reliable food. Count on a good Caesar, homey soups, fresh, well prepared fish and seafood, and fine pasta dishes.
540 Rochester St., 613-321-3537 www.atelierrestaurant.ca $$$$
Chef Marc Lepine’s new avant garde, tasting-menu-only restaurant, based on the Barcelona model of the kitchen-as-laboratory. Twelve courses, served blind, of mostly extraordinary food. Reservations required.
228 Preston St., 613-565-3279 www.bigeasys.ca $$$
Cuisine: Southern seafood
A new New Orleans-style seafood and steak house in the middle of Little Italy, with a long bar and oyster bed, good gumbo, excellent crab cakes, fat ribeyes, and an excellent pecan-sweet potato pie.
Black Cat Bistro
428 Preston St., 613-569-9998 www.blackcatcafe.ca $$$
Cuisine: Comfort Canadian
A new home for the old BC, born 30 years ago on Echo Drive, recently relocated from Murray Street, and now purring along nicely on Preston. Venison carpaccio with aged cheddar, fennel-seeded sweetbreads, duck with figs, lemon tart.
DiVino Wine Studio
225 Preston St., 613-221-9760 www.DivinoWineStudio.com $$$
Cuisine: Small plates
Ottawa’s first enoteca of exclusively Italian wines, the collection constantly changing. The food menu relies on small plates designed for sharing – polenta ragu, mushroom risotto, pappardelle in a leek and walnut sauce.
484 Preston St., 613-230-8828 www.efes.ca $
Rib-sticking Turkish food in Little Italy. The meze platter could make a light supper on its own — and don’t miss the doner kebab when it’s available.
362 Preston St., 613-234-3156 www.giovannis-restaurant.com $$$$
Often busy, often loud, but service is top-notch, the food is flavourful, northern Italian fare and the wine list is superior.
Green Papaya on Preston
256 Preston St., 613-231-8424 www.greenpapaya.ca $$
The first Thai restaurant to immigrate to Little Italy. The pasta strip has made room for kwaytiaw, classic Thai soups and searing salads.
449 Preston St., 613-236-8158 www.ilpiccolino.ca $$
Comfortable, homey decor in a quirky house where pasta and pizza dominate the menu. Pretty summer patio framed with grape vines.
371 Preston St., 613-234-6858 www.ilprimo.ca $$$
Il Piccolino’s sister restaurant, this one is more formal, more contemporary. No pizza, lots of pasta, tender veal, inventive antipasti.
416 Preston St., 613-564-2222 www.stonefacedollys.com $$
Thai soup, tarragon chicken, Mussels, jerk chicken, Thai red curry mussels, jambalaya, and wacky pasta dishes, in modern surroundings in Little Italy.
Trattoria Caffé Italia
254 Preston St., 613-236-1081 www.trattoriaitalia.com $$$
Recently renovated, but still the red-and-white-check cloths cover the busy tables. On the plate: kind portions of fresh, carefully made, affordably priced, traditional northern Italian food.
1208 Wellington St., 613-761-1138 www.absinthecafe.ca $$$
Patrick Garland’s food is seasonally sound, locally sourced, and big on assertive flavours. Warm tomato salad, bacon wrapped quail, red snapper, steak frites, profiteroles.
1331 Wellington St., 613-728-5588 www.agaveottawa.ca $$
Go for the margaritas. Stay for the guacamole, burritos, tender steak bathed in a chipotle chili sauce, and anything with salsa verde on top.
87 Holland Ave., 613-792-1313 www.alliumrestaurant.com $$$
Monday night tapas at allium make Monday nights palatable. Other days, chef-owner Arup Jana dishes up big flavoured food, with particular pleasure found in game dishes and vegetarian arrangements.
91 Holland Ave., 613-759-8472 www.thaitaste.ca $$
Traditional Thai vestiges mingle with contemporary décor. Good satay, ginger-steamed duck, prawn curry, mango ice cream with mango sauce.
1445 Wellington St. W., 613-724-6439 www.bellas.ca $$$
Bella Milito prepares Italian comfort food, specializing in pasta fatta a casa, along with the usual vitello, pollo and pesci, all of it pretty primo.
1379 Wellington St. W., 613-761-5510 www.caffemio.ca $$
A soup and panini on a sunny afternoon on the Mio patio is pretty hard to beat. This little neighbourhood restaurant satisfies with good service, fair prices and decent food.
1355 Wellington St., 613-729-9121 $$
A modern-looking café attached to an upscale Italian food and cheese shop. The menu offers pasta, risotto, thin-crust pizza.
65 Holland Ave., 613-729-1991 www.canvasrestobar.ca $$$
A petite space with a petite menu of bistro dishes – scallops, steak frites, short ribs, gnocchi, daily fish – named in honour of the galleries and theatre that surround it.
1087 Wellington St. W., 613-761-6120 $
Short menu, cheap prices, plain room, and on the menu, ten fragrant and sometimes searing stews – beef, lamb, chicken, pulses, vegetables – served with injera.
Juniper Kitchen and Wine Bar
245 Richmond Rd., 613-728-0220 www.juniperdining.ca $$$$
Cuisine: Modern Canadian
A kitchen that looks locally for quality ingredients and then casts its net widely for inspiration. One of the neighbourhood’s finest.
85 Holland Ave., 613-792-3224 $$
Cuisine: Lebanese grill
Re-opened after a fire and as good as ever. Fabulous flame-grilled chicken, hummus, roasted eggplant dips, grilled lamb, either for sit-down on take-out.
429 Richmond Rd., 613-798-0800 www.mhkrestaurant.com $$
Fish swim in the walls and on the menu of this small, chic sushi restaurant. Seaweed salad to start, then a la carte treats, or one of the MHK maki platters.
357 Richmond Rd., 613-722-8011 www.milagrogrill.com $$
With an upscale decor and a drinks menu that offers tequila by the “flight,” Milagro is Tex Mex for grownups. Food can be uneven. Upstairs patio is a treat.
Petit Bill’s Bistro
1293 Wellington St. W., 613-729-2500 www.petitbillsbistro.ca $$$
Unpretentious restaurant offers small and large plates of eclectic dishes – from curry chicken to maple scallops to eggplant cannelloni.
1100 Wellington Street W., 613-722-8588 www.phnompenhnoodlehouse.com $
Cuisine: Cambodian and Chinese
The food is tasty, there’s lots of it, the price is reasonable, the service is fast and friendly, and the place has an engaging family-run feel.
1268 Wellington St. W., 613-728-3111 www.siambistro.com $$
A handsome new interior and the same familiar line-up of standard Thai dishes. Among its talents are its generous servings and pretty arrangements.
1385 Wellington St. W., 613-798-7800 $$
Cuisine: Diner grub
An agreeably grown-up sort of diner, where parents as well as their issue, can feel at home. Hearty breakfasts, good pot roast, homemade soups, chicken pot pie, burgers.
The Foolish Chicken
79 Holland Ave., 613-321-4715 www.foolishchicken.ca $$
Cuisine: Chicken and ribs
Rotisserie chicken, gooey ribs and homemade desserts are the strengths at this affordable family restaurant.
The Local Bar
Irving Greenberg Theatre Centre, 1227 Wellington St. W., 613-236-5196 #315 $$
Open for breakfast, lunch and dinner, pre- and post-theatre nibbling, with a short, straightforward menu of well-flavoured dishes at fair prices.
1230 Wellington St. W., 613-729-5973 $$
Bright, utilitarian space for the orthodox vegetarian to feast on all-day, every-day, pay-by-weight-of-loaded-plate buffet.
The Village Café
295 Richmond Rd., 613-728-2162 www.thevillagecafe.net $$
A casual restaurant with an eclectic menu — tandoori salmon, Moroccan-style crab cakes, Thai-style prawns. A soup and sandwich lunch remains a draw.
The Wellington Gastropub
1325 Wellington St. W., 613-729-1315 www.thewellingtongastropub.com $$$
Cuisine: Canadian Gastropub
Fine dining in a relaxed venue: Ottawa’s first gastropub offers a short daily menu of seasonal treats, many options for artisan beer and an international wine list.
326 Richmond Rd., 613-564-0406 www.worksburger.com $
Seven patties, 62 toppings, 12 upgrades… makes for innumerable options and permutations for burgers and fries at this busy, high-octane, family-friendly joint.
307-D Richmond Rd., 613-722-3887 $$
Cuisine: Small plates, lounge food.
A teeny neighbourhood eatery that’s breezy, quirky, affordable and allows you to drop in at midnight for paté and pears, pasta or pizza.
Amber Garden and Dalmacia Restaurant
1702 Carling Ave., 613-728-0000 www.ambergarden.net $$
Traditional Eastern European dishes from the Baltic to the Black Seas – cabbage rolls, pierogies, schnitzels, goulash, Kulebiaka, chicken Paprikash, apple fritters.
1659 Carling Ave., 613-237-9981 www.caribbeanflavours.net $$$
In a plain-Jane location on Carling. Nothing plain about the food: cod cakes, jerk chicken, goat curry, rotis, saltfish and ackee, washed down with homemade ginger beer.
2195 Carling Ave., 613-820-8444 $
This is the sweet-and-sour, battered-and-fried, red-dyed Cantonese treat food of the 1960s, with legendary egg rolls. Now in its 50th year of service.
875 Richmond Rd., 613-722-9200 www.hohorestaurant.com $
“Dine-in, take-out, we-deliver” restaurant with strong west-end following. Locals come for the fresh food and for the gracious family that serves it.
Merivale Seafood Grill
1480 Merivale Rd., 613-723-2476 http://www.merivalefish.com $
Fish from the adjoining market is plucked off the ice, steamed, grilled, battered, breaded, brochetted — your choice.
1766 Carling Ave., 613-798-5697 $
All the crunch-soft-pungent-fresh of Vietnamese cuisine is here, in a homey space on busy Carling Avenue. Lunch specials are popular.
747 Richmond Rd., 613-724-6620 $$
Pay attention to the house specials at this popular place. Stuffed chicken wings, tilapia in a red curry sauce, delicious mango and shrimp salad.
911 Richmond Rd., 613-728-0909 www.theosgreektaverna.com $$$
Hellenic music, columns, frescoes, the works. Terrific things done with eggplant and lamb. Servings are enormous.
2920 Carling Ave, 613-828-7812 www.ceylonta.com $
Cuisine: Sri Lankan/ Indian
A second home for this popular Sri Lankan restaurant, you find the same curry-leaved, coconut-sweetened, tamarind-tanged, chilli-fired food of Sri Lanka here in the west as you do downtown.
Little India Café
66 Wylie Ave., 613-828-2696 www.littleindiacafe.com $
Hole in the wall (under renovation) offers Indian cooking from the north and mystic south — silky butter chicken, complex lamb bhuna and admirable vegetarian dishes. To reopen March 25.
69 Kempster Ave., 613-820-4119 $
Mostly Malaysian fare, with some Chinese, Indian and Thai influences. Curry puffs are must-eats. So are satays, Singapore noodles, coriander chicken and tamarind shrimp.
3009 Carling Ave., 613-726-6955 $
Typical north Indian fare that distinguishes itself through the lustiness of its spicing, the long drenching marinades and the expertise with the tandoor.
365 Forest St., 613-725-3481 www.thelindenhof.com $$
On the menu, wiener schnitzel, ham hock, sauerbraten, bratwurst, apple fritters. On the plate, lots. On the bill, not much. On the floor, nice people.
261 Centrepointe Drive, 613-226-7604 $
The soups are full bodied, lip tingling, sinus clearing brews, the salads have some attitude, the stir-fries are perked with generous amounts of basil and garlic, and the curries have heat and perfume.
A Taste of Japan
3710 Richmond Rd., 613-721-7675 www.tasteofjapan.ca $$
In the suburban sprawl, Japanese food that is a cut above. Miso marinated mackerel, scallops flamed in wine, beef katsu, along with all the raw snacks.
39 Robertson Rd., 613-721-0510 $$
A long-running Bells Corners restaurant. Strengths are in homemade breads, pastas and pizzas, fresh seafood and luscious desserts.
Lapointe Seafood Grill
194 Robertson Rd., 613-596-9655 www.lapointefish.ca $$
One of a half dozen Lapointes, these are fish cafés attached to fish markets, each with similar menus. Beer-batter fish and chips, grilled swordfish with a lime caper sauce, fresh mussels.
134 Robertson Rd., 613-829-1010 www.sukhothairestaurant.ca $$
I am told Sukhothai has expanded into a KFC next door, and is no longer a little bright light in a dim mall, but rather a large one. Dishes are the predictable ones. Highlights include beef with basil and chili and green curry of chicken.
The West End Station Bistro
3659 Richmond Rd., 613-721-9639 www.westendstation.ca $$$$
Nicely refurbished Bells Corners restaurant offers a fine dining option in a part of town in need of it. Good soup, mussels, crème brulée.