By Joseph Mathieu
It seems like every time you turn around a new restaurant pops up in Ottawa. We aren’t talking about franchises, but unique eateries with their own personality. The newest additions to the city’s food scene are beautiful, interesting, and far from a flash in the pan. Here is a roundup of new and notable restaurants that opened in 2017.
The Albion Rooms’ Heritage Room
33 Nicholas St., 613-760-4771, thealbionrooms.com
Open every day 11 a.m. to late
An often-overlooked gem is hidden in plain sight at the base of the Novotel on Nicholas Street. The lounge chairs and low tables visible from the hotel lobby are only the tip of the iceberg of The Albion Rooms, which includes a polished bar with standing tables, a glass-walled charcuterie station, and a dining room. The restaurant’s newest addition is hidden in the back, called the Heritage Room and themed like a British gastro-pub. Its rounded booths, cozy corners, and satellite kitchen serve up a breakfast buffet every morning, and dinners on Wednesday to Saturday. The harvest table can be the buffet display or sit a 10-person party. The restaurant’s three pillars remain craft cocktails, local beers, and a farm-to-table menu, all of which are well worth exploring.
Tried & True (and something new): Mushrooms on toast ($14) and elk tartare ($15) are nice additions by head chef Jesse Bell, but you really should try the charcuterie board (from $10)
110 Murray St., 613-562-7244, surlierestaurant.ca
Open 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m., 5 p.m to 11 p.m.
If you have an interest in locally-inspired modern French cuisine, this is the place for you. Opened last February, sommelier Neil Gowe’s Sur-Lie offers elegant fine dining without the pretension. If you want to eat like the pros, try their $80 five-course tasting menu — and don’t be afraid to ask for recommendations. The menu is seasonal, made with fresh produce and game from the ByWard Market and the surrounding region, and always aims to bring in the best quality ingredients. Each plate is a piece of art that you are welcome to remix with your fork.
Pretty much omg: Local rabbit and fowl tartine ($18) for lunch goes a long way, and dinner is a win with the squash bisque ($10) and Québec fois gras torchon ($20)
207 Gilmour St., 613-422-6505, townlovesyou.com/citizen
Open Thursday to Monday, from 6 p.m. to late
First-timers will feel right at home in this casual wine and small plates nook. With dedicated staff, Citizen builds on the success of its big sister Town (296 Elgin St.) but is really a restaurant apart. Its wine list features bottles from around the world that pair well with menu items from all over the map — influences range from African to Spanish, and Italian to French. Something new (and meatless) by guest chef Mike Frank shows up on every Monday menu. Co-owner and chef Marc Doiron is comfortable creating new dishes for new wines, and the suggested dessert is a wonderful case in point. There are no beers on tap, but it’s hard to notice with such a generous selection of bottled beer from near and far.
Love at first taste: Falafel and eggplant ($14) or the pork belly with mojito salad ($18), and definitely go for the concord grape tart ($12)