BeaverTails, shawarma, poutine, perhaps pho. The capital isn’t lacking for acclaimed fast-food options. But stop for a minute and take your taste imaginings to a higher plane. What restaurant dishes are Ottawa classics?
These are unique to a particular dining room, and beloved by legions of fans who extol their virtues far and wide. Signature dishes might be innovative and complex, but they could just as easily be simple. Nevertheless, they have two things in common: they’re instantly cherished and nearly impossible for the chef to remove from the menu.
Any debate over a definitive list could last well into the night, so we’ll just start here with six picks.
Les Fougères’ Duck Confit
783 rte. 105, Chelsea, Quebec, 819-827-8942, fougeres.com
Chef Charles Part’s duck confit is legendary. Little wonder, since the chef-owner has been refining it for upwards of two decades. It boasts a skin that’s deliciously crisp, and the accompanying potato galette is always perfection.
Benny’s Bistro Salmon Gravlax
119 Murray St., 613-789-6797, frenchbaker.ca/reservations
Benny’s Bistro has been serving up “French fast food done right” for years. Its house-made salmon gravlax is a thing of beauty, with an oozy sunny-side-up egg, a warm fingerling potato salad, and olive tapenade on the side.
Mariposa Farm’s Foie Gras
6468 County Road 17, Plantagenet, 613-673-5881, mariposa-duck.on.ca
This farm’s ethical farming practices produce tons of delightful goodies, but none quite as delicious (or coveted) as the duck foie gras.
The SmoQue Shack’s BBQ Chicken
129 York St., 613-789-4245, smoqueshack.com
There’s barbecue and there’s the way chicken’s done in Kentucky: a spicy rub, a sugar and honey brine, and an apple wood smoke. The SmoQue Shack’s secret sauce? A bourbon glaze with hints of vanilla.
Absinthe’s Steak Frites
1208 Wellington St. W., 613-761-1138, absinthecafe.ca
Absinthe sees a large and devoted following for chef-owner Patrick Garland’s steak frites. Its marinated hanger steak paired with hot fries is a don’t-you-dare-take-it-off-the-menu staple.
Allium’s Banoffee Pie
87 Holland Ave., 613-792-1313, alliumrestaurant.com
This yummy pie has a graham cracker crust filled with layers of creamy toffee, sliced banana, and heaps of whipped cream, all topped with chocolate shavings.