A Capital City that Celebrates Food

Dining out in Ottawa has changed profoundly over the last decade. A city that was once lightly flecked with a handful of exceptional eateries has experienced a restaurant boom, and Ottawa is now a hub for food. Rewind twenty years ago, when the culture of dining out was just starting to blossom in Ottawa. Celebrations and milestones brought families and friends out of their homes and into restaurants.Today, Ottawans dine out anywhere from once a month to three times a week. Where has this new attitude toward dining come from? And how has it shaped a national capital region that truly celebrates food?

Rise of the Restaurant

The downtown core is not the only—nor the first—place that Ottawans, and tourists, turn to for a good meal these days. Neighbourhoods, from Hintonburg to Westboro; to Little Italy and the Glebe, are bursting with new restaurants and becoming lively hubs that foodies covet. The options are limitless; the destinations at our fingertips. In these new restaurants, chefs are taking risks with their menus, and they are finding that new approaches to cuisine are being applauded. Just this year, we’ve seen a handful of new restaurants open in Ottawa—each offering a menu that is completely unlike the next.

The Glebe neighbourhood has welcomed the upmarket Pomeroy House and the Fraser brothers’ second restaurant, The Rowan, found its home not far from there. On Elgin, Chef and Restaurateur Matt Carmichael recently opened an Asian small plates bar, called Dat Sun, situated next door to his incredibly successful taco stop, El Camino. Even the suburbs are seeing a different style of restaurant emerge. Communities, like Orléans and Stittsville, have recently welcomed new bistros that offer a unique dining experience – much different to the practice of chain restaurants. One thing is certain: Ottawa was ready for more variety. And restaurateurs delivered.

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A love for local food has brought character to Canadian cuisine—and to Ottawa’s cuisine, too. With accessible local food suppliers and a fortune of farms on the city’s fringes, Ottawa has developed a true appreciation for the natural gift of home-grown grub. There is an expectation to embrace local food, and chefs have harnessed the delight that lies in plating Ottawa’s essence.

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Standard of Service

Beyond food and local suppliers comes the experience of dining out. Stephen Beckta, for Ottawa’s purpose, is the Godfather of Gastronomy and the Sultan of Service. With his first remarkable endeavour in 2003 (the nine time award-winning restaurant, Beckta), he reshaped the definition of fine dining with a focus on service excellence. This shift quickly transcended the white-tablecloth restaurants of Ottawa and became the standard.

Places like Fauna, Supply and Demand and the Elmdale Tavern are more casual dining experiences that still offer exceptional service. Ottawa knows that great service and good food go hand in hand. It is all part of the experience.

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Welcoming Wine & the Cocktail Craze

For a long time, the natural union of food and wine was missing in Ottawa. But, as the city experienced a restaurant boom, a new appreciation for wine was also unearthed. Now, we welcome wine as a pillar of a good meal. And on the coattails of wine came its cousin: the cocktail. The cocktail craze has taken Ottawa by storm and almost every new restaurant boasts a list of artisan cocktails that give a nod to the artistry of mixology.

The Albion Rooms is revered for their craft cocktail list, while Play Food and Wine in the Byward Market is regarded as top tier in Ottawa’s offerings of wine lists. It has been an exciting decade for restaurants—and for eaters—in the National Capital Region.

Yes, Ottawa is hungry. But no longer are we biting at the ankles of Montreal or Toronto. This city has clinched its own spot in the upper echelon of the Canadian food scene.

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A Capital City that Celebrates Food

The Future of Ottawa is Bright

ottawa

Now, perhaps more than ever before in its history, Ottawa is blossoming in its role as Canada’s capital city. Innovative projects, government investments, economic pursuits and exciting real estate developments have contributed to transforming Ottawa
into a dynamic place to call home.

In Mayor Jim Watson’s 2015 State of the City address, he characterized
Ottawa’s current climate as one of “momentum”. Of course, the word momentum can take on a very literal sense when looking at major city projects such as Light Rail Transit (LRT), slated for inauguration in 2018.

But, even greater than this kind of mobilization, has been the rallying of
city spirit. The reinvention of Lansdowne Park has been pivotal in
breathing new life into the city centre. With the addition of the Ottawa
RedBlacks and Ottawa Fury to our professional sports roster, Ottawans now
have reason to cheer year-round.

Key event spaces that celebrate the city’s artistic landscape—like the
National Arts Centre and the Arts Court—are also undergoing significant
renovations, entwining contemporary additions with buildings rich in
history.

In many ways, it’s in that unique dichotomy that Ottawa has found its stride.

Having long been divided from east to west, downtown core to southbound
suburb, recent years have seen select neighbourhoods take on their own
distinct personality, creating vibrant pockets within the city’s
traditional boundaries.

Be it Westboro or Hintonburg, The Glebe or The Golden Triangle, it’s
almost impossible to keep tabs on newly opened restaurants and boutiques.

However, as Ottawa starts to put itself on the map in terms of culinary
clout, we must remember that the practice of “farm-to-table” isn’t simply
trendy in the 613. With more rural space than any other city in Canada,
and 1,200 farms supplying goods to the ByWard Market and the city’s many
farmers’ markets, supporting local is more than just a mantra.

Maybe that’s what happens when nearly half of the population is under the
age of 35, a city becomes hip—sometimes slowly, quietly—without even
realizing it.

And ok, we’re still the seventh coldest capital city in the world …
nobody’s perfect.

But, the city that fun forgot?

Not my Ottawa. Not a chance.

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The Future of Ottawa is Bright

11 Things to do in Ottawa in September

There is no arguing that Ottawans know how to embrace the spirit of summer. After hibernating for what seems like months on end, the city awakens and heads to patios, outdoor festivals, parks, beaches and everything in between. But, as an autumn breeze finds its way to the capital, it’s hard not to feel like the carefree days of months gone past are long behind us. Luckily, September 2015 has a stellar schedule in store. Dare I say, the month ahead looks even more promising than the last? Find your favourite scarf, buy a Pumpkin latte, and take in all that Ottawa has to offer this September.

1.Gatineau Hot Air Balloon Festival:
Turn your eyes to the skies September 3-7. Dozens of hot air balloons will be lifting off from parc de la Baie, in Gatineau, for a spectacular show up above. More than just balloons, the annual festival features a graffiti contest, amusement park, arts and crafts for families, and a classic car exhibition. Admission starts at $24, but free for children under 10 (minus the rides!).

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2. A Visit to iNSiDE Out STUDiO Barre:
As summer winds down, people start to crave their regular healthy lifestyle routines. iNSiDE Out STUDiO Barre  and their Tuck-A-Thon is the perfect place to be. iNSiDE Out opened its doors 3+ years ago as Ottawa’s First Barre Fitness Studio and has since been servicing the Greater Ottawa Area from their locations in Westboro & Stittsville. A unique blend of Yoga, Pilates, Ballet Barre & Strength training,  iNSiDE Out is able to provide a challenging yet low-impact  hour-long fitness experience. For mid-September through mid-October, their Tuck-A-Thon will challenge guests to attend as many classes as possible with amazing prizes from a wide variety of local businesses including the Lord Elgin Hotel, Whalesbone Oyster House, Napoli’s Cafe & more!blog-inside out

3.Alex Colville exhibit:
A Canadian icon, Alex Colville has been one of the most popular exhibits of the summer. In the stunning National Gallery of Canada, discover paintings of nature and animals that conjure the true Canadian landscape. Colville’s interest in human connection, mortality and love are also vividly evident in this moving collection. The National Gallery of Canada will host this exhibit until September 7. Admission is $16 for adults.                  blog - colleville

4.Northern Lights show:
Parliament Hill’s new sound and light show runs until September 12, and after rave reviews, it’s sure not to disappoint. Replacing Mosaica, which ran the roost on The Hill for years, the new rendition takes you on a thrilling journey through Canada’s history by illuminating Centre Block and the Peace Tour with colour, bilingual narration and an original score. Presented nightly, you still have a chance to take in the show for a couple more days. Bonus? It’s free!

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5.Baconpalooza:

Ottawa has become a city of food lovers. So, it only makes sense to celebrate our love of food with a festival dedicated to the most beloved food group: bacon. On September 12, bacon-lovers from across the city will gather at the Canadian Agriculture and Food Museum to celebrate “Baconpalooza”. The event will feature food trucks such as Meatings, beer tents, music and lots and lots of bacon. Celebrity Chef Lynn Crawford will be on site offering new tips and tricks for cooking bacon, and be sure not to miss the bacon-market with lots of bacon-inspired goodies. Admission ranges from $20-50.blog-bacon


6. A day on the canal:
Dow’s Lake Pavilion boat rentals are available until mid-September which means there is still time to take in this beautiful city from a different angle. The reasonable eight kilometre paddle up the Rideau Canala world heritage UNESCO sitewill lead you right to the heart of the city. Paddleboats, kayaks, canoes and paddleboards are among the popular rentals at Dow’s Lake Pavilion. During the last few warm days of summer, this is a great way to get outdoors and explore the city.blog-canal

7. Dinner in the Glebe:
There is a long list of new restaurants that have opened in Ottawa this year, but there is definitely a hub found in the Glebe, where on every corner you’ll find a new addition to the culinary scene. The trendy neighbourhood is home to at least three new restaurants that are worthy of return visits. Dinner, drinks and a stroll by the canal will make for a memorable (and delicious) summer night.
Don’t miss:
o The Pomeroy House: Hungry Ottawans are going in to The Pomerory House and rave reviews are coming out. Owner and Chef Rich Wilson, and his partner Lyndsay Gordon hold culinary golden seals after their long stints in the kitchen of Beckta Dining and Wine. It’s no surprise that The Pomeroy House is already making waves.
o The Rowan: Ross and Simon Fraser finally opened their second restaurant after almost a decade of bringing a new meaning to local and fresh with their first child: Fraser Café. In the heart of the Glebe, find The Rowan: a menu focused on local ingredients but putting a new spin on English pub-style fare.   
o   Crust & Crate: Thin crust pizza and the hippest area in town is recipe for a good time. Crust & Crate is brand new and is nestled among the many other exciting attractions and restaurants at Lansdowne.

8.Marvest / City Folk:
Inspired by Austin’s SXSW festival, more than 60 local bands will invade Ottawa’s Bank Street September 18-19 for Marvesta local spin on the larger CityFolk festival happening at Lansdowne. Thirteen Glebe shops, including unorthodox music venues like the Unrefined Olive and David’s Tea, will host free concerts to showcase local talent. If bigger names—like headliners Van Morrison or Of Monsters and Menare more your vibe, head to the Great Lawn at Lansdowne for the season’s final outdoor music festival.


9.Shopping in Westboro:
Flock, Viens Avec Moi and Victoire are just a few of the stunning boutiques to be found in one of Ottawa’s favourite neighbourhoods. Take a stroll and browse dozens of one-of-a-kind shops, ranging from couture to cafés to kitchen wares. This hip destination in Ottawa is full of surprises for lovers of art, food, fashion and music. While you’re in the area, take in the Taste of Wellington West festival on September 19!


10.Attend a Redblacks game:
Attending a Redblacks game at the newly renovated TD Place Stadium is Ottawa’s favourite pastime. The city begins to buzz with excitement as droves of people, decked out in red and black, head to the field to watch our home team tear up the ranks of the Canadian Football League. Next home game takes place on Saturday, September 26 against the Toronto Argonauts.

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11.Nuit Blanche:
Take a sneak peak into the arts and culture scene in Ottawa and Gatineau by attending Nuit Blanche: a dusk-until-dawn celebration taking place in multiple venues within the neighbouring cities. The 2015 event will take place on Saturday, September 19 starting at 6:19 p.m., and will host activities until Sunday, September 20th at 4:20 a.m.. Nuit Blanche Ottawa+Gatineau showcases stunning performances, live art, short films, silent parades and much, much more.                                    TORONTO, ON - OCTOBER 5: "Garden Tower" at Nuit Blanche in Toronto, October 5, 2013. (Lucas Oleniuk/Toronto Star via Getty Images)

11 Things to do in Ottawa in September