296 Elgin St, Ottawa
Visited: August 15th, 2012
Final vote: Definitely coming back!
Review: We went to town for my birthday! It’s taken me awhile to write up this review, and I’m sorry it’s taken so long. But let us see if my memory stretches that far back!
We had reservations, which for this place is important. It’s a small place, cute and really hipster. It rings very Toronto, to me. The menu is written on a blackboard against one wall. The tables had hooks underneath to hang bags, which made it way more spacious in a tiny venue. I’m not sure if there’s normally air conditioning, but there wasn’t the night we were there, and it was warm, despite the window being open onto Elgin Street.
There was a rose on the wine menu, which is lovely, and what MC and I both ordered. The drinks took a little while to get there, and that would be my overall note; everything took a little longer than it should have, including plates being cleared.
The waiters were knowledgeable and able to answer any questions we had about the food. Speaking of the food-
We ordered the artisan cheese plate which was more than enough for four to share (though we did ask for more crostini!) and was delicious. It was a selection of local cheeses, ranging from the soft and mild up to an incredibly strong goat cheese. It also came with a fruit mostarda (like a chutney) and honey, both of which were really good. The full selection is on the website, and I suggest you order the full range of them, as long as you don’t mind strong flavour.
We ordered the ricotta stuffed meatballs, which were simple and delicious. They came in a creuset type dish, with a really rich tomato sauce and a creamy polenta underneath. Nothing particularly imaginative, but a well executed dish, and perfectly matching Town’s idea of modern, unpretentious Italian food.
We also ordered the pecorino potatoes, which were essentially roasted fingerling potatoes with pecorino cheese sprinkled on top. They were amazing, melt in your mouth, and the pecorino was just the right salty addition to the potato.
We were too full for dessert at that point, but the menu looked appealing for sure, and we’ll go back to try more.
There were some more experimental things on the menu; a rabbit milanese and a wild boar bolognese are just two. We definitely played it a little more on the safe side this time, and I’m anxious to go try some more.
The atmosphere was good, intimate without seeming overcrowded, and the restaurant was well lit, with clean lines and simple, classy decor.
The service was less than exceptional, but not bad. Just a little slow, and our waiter did forget one of our tables drink orders, and had to be reminded (and even then it took time to get it). But it wasn’t enough to deter me from a return visit, since the food was so good!
315 Somerset St W, Ottawa
Visited: August 07, 2012
Final vote: Definitely coming back!
I can’t even tell you how much I loved this place! We were initially seated at high two-person table, but asked to be moved to the community ones. I love community tables, and I’m excited to see the trend move into Ottawa. We were promptly waited on, and my wife ordered the cilantro, cucumber and mint soda. After trying hers I ordered one for myself! Delicious, light and refreshing.
We skipped appetizers, but the waiter was really sweet and explained a few things on the menu that we didn’t understand. We ordered the fried yard bird and three sides: cornbread with burbon brown butter, cheese and garlic grits and shrimp boil macaroni salad.
It was all delicious! The yardbird (chicken) portion was too big for two people (we’d ordered the four piece), the two of us could have eaten the 2pc and been satisfied. The cornbread batter was crispy but not overly greasy. The real stars of the meal were the sides though. The cornbread was cooked in a mini cast iron skillet (the only real way to cook southern cornbread is in a cast iron skillet, it’s fantastic) and the brown butter was delicious on top. The grits were basically a cheese and garlic vehicle, but it was so good I didn’t even care. The macaroni salad was a great contrast, and really well done also. It all came served on a big baking sheet, for me and my wife to share. Very casually presented, but cute too!
We really wanted to try the desserts, so we ordered two. We tried a buttermilk and lavender pie, with macerated strawberries. It was sweet and tangy, the crust was flaky and crispy. Really amazing dish.
The second dessert was a lime cheesecake parfait, and it was really disappointing. It was very warm, and when I took my first bite I was shocked. It was bitter, and the texture was very strange. It basically tasted like a bitter melted cheesecake. There was honey drizzled on top, but it didn’t get down far enough and without the sweetness to cut it, the lime just made the cheesecake taste tangy, and it was overall a horrible combination. I’ll eat almost anything, but we couldn’t even touch this. I’m aware it’s an odd dish (it comes served with a jalepeno chip and corn nut topping) but despite that I still wasn’t expecting exactly how weird it was.
But! We set it aside and when our waiter came back he inquired why we hadn’t eaten it. We told him we hadn’t liked it, and that maybe it needed some more sweetness. He told us he’d let the kitchen know, which is exactly what I want to hear when I don’t enjoy a dish. Great service on that.
And then they went one step further, and when we were presented with our bill, our waiter told us he’d taken the dessert off. Amazing, awesome service, and definitely enough to have me singing praises for this place.
The atmosphere was cozy and warm, friendly and intimate. The food was fantastic, well executed and well presented, not to mention delicious and filling. The service was friendly, quick, efficient and above and beyond.
All in all, this place is awesome, and I’d recommend it to anyone. (Especially if George is your waiter!)