Every day for 21 years, Ada and Wilf Laham served breakfast and lunch at their Bank Street institution. It was called Ada’s Diner. “Good Food, Fast Service” was its mission statement.
When the couple retired last year, they sold the business to local restaurateur Ion Aimers (formerly of The Works and now owner of a trio of ZaZaZas) and to partners Dominic Leblanc (chef) and Jessie Duffy (front of house.) The enterprise was renamed Wilf & Ada’s in homage to the Lahams, and wouldn’t you know, it’s open every day for breakfast and lunch. And possibly — so says my server — for dinner. The odd dinner, anyways. Stay tuned.
I vaguely recall the old Ada’s. It was loud, and the food ample. But I imagine the espresso machine now sitting on the counter is a new addition. As are the jars of homemade marmalade, vinegar bottles of house dressing, and Mason jars of raw sugar. And I don’t imagine Ada served Mimosas with her Sunday eggs.
Let’s just say Wilf & Ada’s has been scrubbed up and aesthetically rescued, though some might say gentrified, with a mix of diners a little more well-heeled. There were kids, families, oldsters, and even a chef from another restaurant (and his baby). And certainly the food’s on an entirely new plain. This is still a menu that honours the past — Wilf & Ada’s hasn’t morphed into an upscale sushi joint — but the classics have been smartened up.
As much as I wanted to try out the house-made deli meats and cured bacon, the hot chicken sandwich caught my eye. So that became lunch. Smeared on the toasted house-made bread: a dandy root vegetable mash; a pile of very moist pulled chicken; and a well-peppered, full-flavoured, onion gravy studded with peas. A pile of good fries and an arugula salad joined on the side.
If this is the taste of the 2014 diner, I’m all for it.
Chiciken sandwich cost $13; sugar pie was $7
Wilf & Ada’s, 510 Bank St., 613-231-7959
First published in Ottawa Magazine as a Lunch Pick