TOWN restaurant

Town came out earlier last year and created such a buzz within the city. Before I could even google the menu, Town was winning culinary awards such as Ottawa Magazine’s top 10 in 2010, and various other cooking competitions. Then before you knew it, Steve Wall took a position at Luxe Bistro and left husband and wife duo Doiron and Wojcik to run the restaurant without his assistance. One can only assume that with a quick turnaround of kitchen staff the restaurant was doomed to crash. But months elapsed and hype continued.

When a girlfriend of mine was free for dinner a few weeks ago, I knew exactly what needed to happen… it was time to experience Town.

An experience it was. I cannot express how Town can and will change the face of Ottawa culinary for the better. The menu is not small by any means, but each dish requires dedicated time to enjoy and to decompose the flavor profiles. My friend and I sat at the bar which we both prefer, and spoke to our bartender/server about each exotic dish. Ultimately we landed on the mortadella crustini (mortadella mousse/fig & onion compote/hazelnuts) and without any hesitation, the little italian devils on horseback (italian sausage stuffed date/bacon wrapped/tomato red pepper puree/salt cured foie gras). If you cannot see how these item stand out among other restaurant menus then you may not enjoy these fascinating collages of ingredients. Absolutely delicious!

It is very evident to me that this menu was well thought out, crafted for those eager to engage in culinary experience, and to become the talk of the ‘town’. Indeed, they have succeeded in my opinion. A full house, every night of the week, a menu that changes to reflect the creative thinking of this duo (and probably to a number of others who are part of the mastermind), I really hope that Ottawa diners dont push Town aside in anticipation for the new up-and-coming. If we can take a step back and realize that Ottawa needs these inspiring menus and out-of-the-box thinking, I have no doubt Town will be here to stay.

Town on Urbanspoon

Burnt Butter Italian Kitchen

It was one of those nights I worked late, and was way too lazy to make any food at home. So I made a reservation at Burnt Butter and headed to westboro. Walking in, Burnt Butter looked a lot like Urban Pear in the Glebe – the long restaurant with a gorgeous bay window allowing eaters to look out and passer-byers to peer in.

Towards the back (or end) of the dining room is a large chalkboard which reads the entire menu. A little daunting in my mind, as it would be more craftily utilized for daily specials. But there they were, all the delicious menu items starring me in the face. To my surprise there were several items which included burnt butter – and this surprises me because I was always under the impression we as humans could not digest burnt butter…

Now, one would think you’d order pasta at an Italian restaurant but its one of those things where, if I’m going out to spoil myself, I’d rather order something I cant make at home. Looking through all the specials and all the regular menu items, I decided to ask my gracious waitress what she recommended (or rather, what they were especially good at). Not a moment to waste, she told me the scallops were tough to turn down.

Scallops are one of those very finicky seafood that can be overcooked very quickly, but I took her word for it and ordered the scallops with lime pasta. They were perfectly cooked, lightly seared on the outside with some blackened char, but tender and meaty on the inside. I would border on saying it may have been slightly undercooked but I have a strong suspicion it was actually cooked properly and I’m just not used to the cuisson. The lime pasta was fresh and thin (perhaps vermicelli) with a hint of lime and seasoning. There were several other dishes that were at the top of my list to choose from and each one that came out (for other patrons of course) looked absolutely delightful.

I can see that the overall impression made by the restaurant is a modern take on classic Italian cuisine. The menu itself admits, ‘Italian inspired. Inventive in spirit” allowing diners to realize they wont be getting Mama’s classic spaghetti and meatballs but perhaps a Curry Rasta Linguine with grilled chicken & shrimp, roasted peppers, chiles, olive oil and pineapple salsa. It won’t jive with everyone in the city, but its worth trying to go in with no expectations.

I admit I will be back to try many more dishes and perhaps dessert next time.

Burnt Butter Italian Kitchen on Urbanspoon

The Exchange Pub and Restaurant

If you recall, this was the Elephant and Castle before. Then some genius (seriously) decided to redesign the interior, revamp the menu and add a new sign to the outside. What a difference. It wasnt like the Elephant and Castle was bad, especially when you are hangry after shopping all day, but what a nice improvement. I know you’d think “a restaurant in the mall? Cant be that good” but you’ll be pleasantly surprised. The prices are descent for each item and the menu has a nice selection of meats, cheeses, sandwiches, pizzas and authentic English pub food.

An English friend ordered the Ploughman’s plate and was quite happy with the authenticity of the plate, as well as the selection of meats and cheeses. I have had the chicken curry – surprisingly fantastic. My sister ordered the small meatball sandwiches – what a great idea. There are three meatballs all on their own bun with chipotle mayo and what tasted like delicious pesto. Their soups are all very tasty if you decide to have a small bowl instead of salad or fries.

One night a girlfriend and I decided we’d go there for some drinks and we ordered a few things on their summer menu. Each one was so creative and tasty. Then we selected some drinks or them to make off the menu and each time they came back with exactly what we wanted.

I keep end up going back to the Exchange and I would be very surprised if you didnt find something on their to feast your appetite.

The Exchange Pub + Restaurant (aka The Ex) on Urbanspoon