It had been a long, hungry walk along the banks of our precious canal until this summer, so full marks to the NCC and Kemptville Hospital CEO Colin Goodfellow for giving this al fresco restaurant project life. 8 Locks’ Flat is a new, foot- and wheel-friendly outdoor dining room located on the east bank of the Rideau Canal, beneath and north of the Corktown Footbridge. It’s an expansive, handsome deck constructed of fragrant red cedar, named in honour of the historic flight of eight locks. Operational exclusively in the gentle months, the plan is to take it apart in mid-October and reassemble it in May. Next to the deck is either a sizable sandbox or a diminutive beach, depending on how you see these things.
The fare at 8 Locks’ Flat is aggressively local. All the usual suspects are found among the suppliers listed on the two-page menu: Beau’s brews, Whalesbone’s fish, True Loaf bread, Bearbrook Farms sausages, Mariposa’s duck, Clarmell Farms goat cheese, and so on. Full marks for that.
But I would say 8 Locks was still finding its stride when I visited earlier this summer. Service was sweet but disorganized, the wait between courses was uncomfortably long, and not every dish worked as well as we had hoped. But the gazpacho was a highlight: served in a plastic cup, it tasted potently of the August garden, came dolloped with a cilantro infused crème fraiche, and was accompanied by toasted pita bread spiked with a za’atar blend of spices (dried herbs, sesame, salt).
With a fine view of water traffic, joggers, bikers, and roller bladers, plus the top of the Peace Tower rising majestically over the summer greenery, it made for a special afternoon.
Cost: $7 for the gazpacho with pita Open: Daily through to mid-October, 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. 8 Locks’ Flat, 191 Colonel By, 613-286-7334. www.facebook.com/8LocksFlat.