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cafe

Hot Drink Hot Spots

By Joseph Mathieu

These aren’t your grandma’s coffee shops. Although she’ll probably like them too. Here’s a quick roundup of some of the more unique and fun spots to warm up as the spring slowly comes around.

 Photo by Laura Jasmine

The Vanitea Room

The gilded mirrors, regal chandeliers and plush chairs make every visit to The Vanitea Room an opulent affair. The atmosphere is Victorian flair with a modern twist, epitomized by a large flowery mural. The salon serves afternoon tea five days a week, with a dazzling array of over 150 teas from around the world. Teatime isn’t complete without their elegant three-tier serving tray teeming with edible delights, from macarons to panna cotta. They also offer breakfast, lunch, and tea parties for kids, as well as an all-day brunch (bubbly, anyone?) with savoury meals like eggs benedict or French toast and sweet goods like scones and cakes baked in-house. 551 Somerset St. W., thevanitearoom.com

Sutherland

Open daily for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, this hybrid cafe is quite versatile: appealing to those looking for a casual space, one area has a cozy nook, a wall bench, and a pastry case full of freshly baked goods, while the remaining space is dedicated to the dining room where Ottawa-renowned chef, Warren Sutherland, serves up his eclectic take on South American, Asian, and Caribbean dishes. For lunch, try the eggs of North Africa, served with a chickpea stew, and the smoked salmon toast makes for a hearty breakfast. They serve many hot drinks, but their Jamaicano is the surest way kick start a drowsy day: made with steamed milk and two espresso shots sweetened by an ounce of condensed milk. 224 Beechwood Ave., sutherlandrestaurant.com

Feline Café

A great way to enjoy a coconut oil-infused bulletproof coffee or a matcha latte is with the companionship of rescued cats. The Feline Café has three separate sections: the entrance with a barn-board wood counter from which to order, another filled with cubbyholes and scratching posts for cats to play with the public, and a third just for cats to sleep or hide. There are on average six cats at the café, and every single one is available for adoption. A bulletin board displays all adopted cats that went on to their forever home from here. The café supports the foster operation, so feel good about ordering an organic tea, a vegan-friendly dishes like the jackfruit taco rice bowl, or any baked goods from several of local bakeries. You can bring food into the public cat lounge, but keep the kitties from taking nibbles! 1076 Wellington St. W., felinecafeottawa.com

Dreamland Café

This Italian food counter feels like a little oasis with its cloud-like lamps and wispy hints of pink, purple, and yellow. Though it specializes in homemade pizza and pasta, Dreamland is always creating new syrup-based coffees and teas to go or enjoy at their window bar. They have familiar flavours like mint cocoa latte and a classic matcha, and those looking for a health boost should try their hot lattes made with beetroot or turmeric — both root-based drinks are high in antioxidants. Run by two local sisters, their amazing sauces, like pancetta pesto and shrimp lemon garlic, are based on their grandmother’s recipes. 200 Laurier Ave. W., dreamlandcafe.ca

The Ministry of Coffee

This duo of coffeehouses are both built to be cozy and chic, with wood-wrapped espresso bars and several two-seat tables. Elgin’s spot is intimate and low-key while Hintonburg’s is more spacious and communal. The latter is known as The Ministry of Coffee and Social Affairs because of its liquor license, later hours, and events, concerts, and fundraisers. Both aim to serve the best coffees from around the world, and to showcase some of the finest Canadian roasters. They regularly feature coffees from the likes of Burlington’s Detour Coffee Roasters, Calgary’s Phil & Sebastian, and Anchored Coffee from Nova Scotia. 297 Elgin St. & 1013 Wellington St. W., theministryofcoffee.com

A post shared by blumenstudio (@blumenstudio) on

blumenstudio

This friendly café and flower shop feels like a private greenhouse, with a myriad of shelves and tables covered in plants. It’s owned by a second-generation flower aficionado from Dresden, Germany, and managed by Klaus, her mini schnauzer mix (seen napping, above). The owner changes her floral wares each season, but her yummy coffees remain consistent. Every espresso is made with a certified organic and fair-trade coffee bean blend that’s roasted with green technology. The studio serves a great Americano with only one or two ounces of water, and claims to be the first in Ottawa to pour cortados: half espresso, half steamed milk. On top of selling planters and cut flowers, the shop also hosts floral arrangement workshops such as making succulent gardens and seasonal bouquets. 465 Parkdale Ave., blumenstudio.ca

 

May Hot Dining

By Janice Hudson

BEST IN BEAN

trident-storefront-sourced-from-FB-web

•A favourite place for downtown coffee aficionados, The Trident on Hollis Street roasts its beans on-site, offering an array of hot drinks, loose tea and pastries. After you recharge, browse the eclectic mix of used books.

•Veteran coffeehouse Java Blend on North Street has been in the bean business since 1938 and roasts all of its coffee on-site. Unique coffee memorabilia and an old (but still working) coffee roaster add to the cozy, laid-back feel of the café.

•In Dartmouth, Two if by Sea Café is the go-to spot for coffee fiends, offering not just fabulous coffee but also indulgent fresh-baked croissants that can stand in for a meal. The café has a second location on the Halifax side in the Historic Properties near the Halifax Transit ferry terminal.

EDITOR’S CHOICE

Bistro-le-Coq-web

Offering French-inspired cuisine, Bistro le Coq on Argyle Street has the atmosphere of a Parisian bistro, with an ornate tin ceiling, elegant artwork and plush booths. Service en français is always available. Choose from tasty French classics like steak frites and glazed duck. There’s an extensive list of wines, with many served by the glass (including champagne). For dessert, try the layered Nutella crêpe cake.

SAVOUR SPRING

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The brainchild of award-winning Chef Renée Lavallée, The Canteen on Ochterloney Street in Dartmouth serves up flavourful sandwiches, salads and take-out dinners. Lavallée changes the menu daily to highlight fresh local ingredients. Breadmaster Jessica Best bakes all the bread on-site, including tasty gluten-free options.

SPLASH OF LIFE

Photo: Janice Hudson

Photo: Janice Hudson

A newcomer on Halifax’s vibrant diner scene, Robie Street Station has become the it-spot in Central Halifax for all-day breakfast and comfort food with a global twist. Colourful murals and local artwork decorate the charming eatery, located near the Halifax Common on Robie Street. Hit up Robie Street Express next door for a coffee and fresh baked-goods to go.

IN VINO VERITAS

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A stylish yet intimate space, Obladee on Barrington Street offers a range of stellar, hand-chosen wines, including special local vintages. Try the monthly cellar wine special: staff uncork top red and white vintages for customers to enjoy by the glass. Pair your choice with charcuterie from the local artisanal producers.

Hot Dining: Pressed

Billed as a gourmet sandwich bar and coffeehouse, Pressed is a welcome addition to its Centretown West neighbourhood. An ever-changing blackboard menu offers an array of sandwiches made with high-quality ingredients (smoked chicken, eggplant tempura, and margherita are a few favourites), along with soups, salads, and sides. The cozy cafe is also a popular place to be on weekends when brunch is served. Try the Hangover — a waffle topped with smoked beef brisket, cheese curds, and gravy. Add a latte, and you’re ready to take on the day!

750 Gladstone Ave, 613-680-9294, www.pressed-ottawa.com

4 Coffee Shops We Love in St. John’s, Newfoundland

Rocket Bakery. Photo by Matt Jiggins.

By Candice Walsh

For such a small city, St. John’s has a surprisingly large number of cafés around town. Many of them are downtown along Water Street and Duckworth Street, and each has its own distinct vibe and personality. The following are four of the best bets for espresso, light bites or a straight up cuppa joe. (more…)

Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner: Saskatoon, Saskatchewan

Poached Breakfast Bistro. Photo: Penny McKinlay

Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner is our series highlighting the best local restaurants across Canada. Have a tip for your city? Let us know on Twitter or on Facebook. Today we are featuring top restaurant picks in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan.

BREAKFAST

Poached Breakfast Bistro shares a downtown location with late-night hangout Flint, and it’s got some really inventive and delicious brunch food that is beckoning line-ups out the door. Recommended by Saskatoon-based food blogger Penny McKinlay, this bistro serves up a few must-have dishes. (more…)

Hot Dining: Java Break

Julien's is a landmark in the Hydrostone neighbourhood.

Tucked away in Halifax’s historic Hydrostone neighbourhood on Young Street, Julien’s is the perfect place to relax and recharge for a few minutes. The friendly café/bakery is legendary for its fresh bread, almond croissants and other treats.