Along with the weather, restaurant openings in Ottawa are heating up this summer. While there’s no doubt that a whole crop of new restaurants will hit the scene this year, there are a few knockouts that deserve to be touted before the summer is up. Ottawa’s treasured chef, Matthew Carmichael, will be taking his talents onto Sparks Street. The brains behind the brawn of Fauna jumped on an opportunity for a new spot. The always-crowded Pure Kitchen of Westboro opened its doors to a new location on Elgin Street … and so much more.
Now, Sparks Street is home to more than just Ribfest (but we’ll still take a double order of ribs, please). Chefs Matthew Carmichael and Jordan Holley have been working on the concept of restaurant Riviera since 2013 and will be opening its doors before long. They were the chefs who delivered tacos and ramen through two of Elgin Street’s most popular restaurants: El Camino and Dat Sun, respectively. Both restaurants boast a unique style of fare that appeals to the masses; but Riviera’s menu will be made up of “the heavy hitters from over the years”, in a fine-dining atmosphere. The space, formerly the home of an old bank, is as luxurious of a shell as the immaculate interior design—the vault transformed into a charcuterie room and a cascading brass bar as a focal point.
Even though Carmichael has turned his attention away from Elgin Street this summer, that doesn’t mean that other prominent restauranteurs aren’t sniffing around. The almost cult-like following that restaurant Whalesbone has attracted is preparing to welcome a second location, at 231 Elgin. The new location will dwarf the original in terms of size and though the menu will continue to star the famous oysters and seafood that have made Whalesbone’s name, there will also be a cameo of some red meat options. Pure Kitchen—a vegetarian food and juice bar—previously drew crowds to its home in Westboro. After operating for only a few weeks, their second location on Elgin Street is quickly starting to feel like home, too. Formerly known as the infamous Maxwell’s nightclub, Pure Kitchen Elgin has seen a complete (and beautiful) renovation and is offering up mouth-watering vegetarian fare for any Centretown health aficionado.
In the past, Somerset Village hasn’t always had the best luck with new restaurant openings. Summer 2016 in the village—with a whole array of new and exciting eateries—is ensuring that history doesn’t repeat itself. The modern, upscale restaurant Fairouz opened its doors a few months ago and is only gaining momentum as the summer months unfold. Fairouz offers a modern twist on Middle Eastern cuisine and the menu strays far away from the usual flavours found around the city. Its fare and thirst-quenchers have been praised by countless critics, including Anne DesBrisay, and the owners, staff and management are hospitality personified.
Right next door, Prohibition Public House has shone a tiny, dim light on the era of embargoed alcohol. But don’t let the name fool you—not only is it a trendy, late night hang out, but also a relaxed dining atmosphere for some savoury sustenance.
Hintonburg always seems to have something happening, whether it’s a festival, a street party or a new restaurant opening. So it came as no surprise when two-year old Fauna on Bank Street decided to give way to a little sister, located on Wellington Street in the heart of Hintonburg. Bar Laurel has yet to open its doors, but the anticipation is enormous. Fauna has carved a path of delight in the culinary scene of Ottawa and there is expectation that Bar Laurel will follow suit.
So if you’re not satisfied with the eateries that exist in the National Capital as of today, just hold on until the final weeks of September— “summer sixteen” will have seen a boom in Ottawa’s restaurants.