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elgin street

Hot Dining: Fresco Bistro Italiano

For many a diner, it can be hard to find a restaurant with that elusive blend of good food, a lively, laid-back atmosphere, and owners who truly care about the restaurant they run. Fresco Bistro Italiano ticks all three boxes. The menu is Italian-inspired and features mains like duck confit and braised lamb shank, as well as flavourful pasta dishes, salads, pizzas, and more. The decor has the modern/rustic balance down pat, with old photos of Ottawa landmarks hung on the exposed brick walls. After hours, head upstairs to the Guest Room for tapas, drinks, and music.

354 Elgin St., 613-235-7541, www.frescobistro.ca.

Indulge: Five Luxury Items that are Worth the Splurge

Shopping

Treat yourself to a day of indulgence in the nation's capital.

You work hard, it’s time to enjoy yourself! From small splurges to big-ticket items, we’ve highlighted five luxury items that — bonus — also make great souvenirs from your trip to Ottawa.

ROAD TO RELAXATION
Nothing says luxury like taking time for yourself (why is that?). In this day and age of smartphones, laptops, and nonstop digital communication, there is no greater feeling than turning off and tuning out to curl up with a magazine. The glossy pages, beautiful photographs, and scintillating stories offer an escape — if only for a little while. Whether you’re reading fodder for the mind or guilty pleasure rags, this act (and its inexpensive price) is one of life’s simplest pleasures. While in Ottawa, a trip to Mags & Fags on Elgin Street is a must. In business for 30 years, this shop carries 4,000 magazine titles that range from obscure and special interest to mainstream favourites. 254 Elgin St., 613-233-9651.

koko chocolates: delicious, rich, and local, too!

GO GOURMET
Local chocolatier Jen Winter has created quite a reputation for her gourmet sweets, koko chocolates. A perfectly grown-up treat that won’t break the bank, her tasty truffles have creamy ganache centres and are dipped or molded in premium Belgian chocolate. Find fine flavours such as Thai Chili, Triple Chocolate, Margarita, Passion Fruit, and more, as well as seasonal offerings. Retails for about $5.25-$6.50 per 3-piece sleeve. Available at The Candy Store, 350 Richmond Rd. in Westboro, and several other locations in Ottawa.
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Fitness on the Go:
3 Places to Get Your Workout on in Ottawa

When you’re travelling, it’s easy for your fitness regime to slip up.  All of a sudden you’re no longer hitting the gym – and all the eating out and afternoon drinks start to add up. Luckily for you, Ottawa has no shortage of fitness options, so we’ve rounded up three great ones with drop-in rates that will get you moving. By Erin Morawetz. (more…)

Hot Dining: Not Your Average Grill

Located in the Lord Elgin Hotel, Grill 41 is open daily.

Located in the stately Lord Elgin Hotel, Grill 41’s name pays homage to the year the hotel was built (1941). The vibe inside is warm yet refined (but not too refined, the lounge offers flat screen TVs and there’s some interesting people watching to be had on Elgin Street). Open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, the menus offer traditional choices as well as unique items, such as crispy duck with savoury crepes, Canadian cheddar mac and cheese, and a to-die-for banana bread pudding. 100 Elgin St., 613-569-2126.

Hot Attraction: Weekends on Elgin Street

Elgin Street is a must on weekends. Photo credit: Ottawa Tourism.

Elgin Street is a hotbed of activity on weekends, home to everything from restaurants to the National Arts Centre. Traverse this area on foot, beginning on Wellington Street just east of the Parliament buildings, all the way down to the end at Hawthorne Avenue. On Friday and Saturday you can dance the night away at one of the bars, unwind with friends at the pubs, or shoot a game of pool at MacLaren’s, and still grab a late night bite at the 24-hour Elgin Street Diner. Added bonus? There are usually plenty of cabs lining the street after last call. Follow up with a low-key Sunday brunch at The Lieutenant’s Pump or a nonchalantly hip one at The Manx.

Weekend Roundup: Valentine’s Day Edition

Friday, February 11

Jim Bryson and The Weakerthans perform Feb. 11 at Capital Music Hall. Photo credit: Kelp Records.

Canadian indie legends The Weakerthans teamed up with local hero Jim Bryson to record The Falcon Lake Incident last year, and are taking the album on the road. Playing Bryson’s hometown after weeks of touring, catch this amazing collaboration at the Capital Music Hall this Friday with your valentine. Have dinner in the bustling Byward Market or on Elgin Street. End the night with a glass of wine at Must in the Market.

For any gentlemen looking for last minute bling for their lady friends, Disegno Fine Jewellery is hosting a “Men’s Night” from 4 to 8 p.m. to offer a wee bit of guidance. This evening of shopping includes beer and chips, a hockey puck with every purchase, and of course, a sweet selection of beautiful baubles (RSVP required, 613-482-1614).

Saturday, February 12

The outdoor baths at Le Nordik are amazing in winter. Photo credit: Le Nordik.

Take a romantic getaway for two this weekend with an intimate spa session. Both the chic Holtz Spa downtown and Gatineau’s Le Nordik nature spa offer relaxing, romantic packages for couples. Enjoy the Chocolate Delights package at Holtz or take an energizing dip in the Nordik baths.

For a cost effective Valentine’s date, take in Winterlude with a romantic skate on the canal – there are plenty of places to rent skates if you don’t have a pair. Warm up with a BeaverTail or hot apple cider as you walk through the ice sculptures in Confederation Park with your sweetheart.

It’s the last weekend for the Great Canadian Theatre Company’s acclaimed Strawberries in January. Curl up next to your sweetheart and enjoy the fizzy romantic comedy of four singletons trying to find love in the dead of a Montreal winter. Have dinner at the ultra trendy Wellington Gastropub or delight in a vegetarian meal at The Table for a romantic night, enjoying the best the up-and-coming Hintonburg neighbourhood has to offer.

Sunday, February 13

Enjoy a sexy evening out at Kinki Asian-Fusion Restaurant.

Dinner and a movie could be a boring date, but not if you’re watching one of the most endearing love stories to hit the silver screen. Amélie, the mad-cap story of a Parisian girl finding love for those around her, is playing Sunday to Tuesday at the Bytowne Cinema in the heart of Ottawa. Mix it up and grab dinner somewhere fashionable like Ottawa’s Asian fusion favourite, Kinki.

If you like dancing, swing by the Canada Aviation and Space Museum Sunday afternoon for a ton of big band favourites. The “Con Amore” concert will feature the Grey Jazz Big Band and roses will be handed out to the first hundred women wearing red. It’s free with museum admission, so take in the museum’s collection of aviation artefacts while you’re there.

Monday, February 14

Instead of chocolates and flowers, buy the one you love a personalized sonnet, performed on bended knee. On Valentine’s Day, you can send a costumed actor from A Company of Fools to deliver a Shakespearean poem to your sweetie’s work or home, along with a small bag of sweets.

Hot Dining: Authentic Mexican Cuisine

Enjoy the fun ambience at Pancho Villa.

On those dark days of winter, head over to Pancho Villa, a Mexican restaurant in the heart of bustling Elgin Street. The traditional fare is on offer, as are their signature dishes: mole enchiladas, arroz con pollo, and chile relleno. With mains ranging from $9 to $16, there should be change left over for a round of “Tropic daiquiris” (mixing together lime, strawberry, and banana) or one of their 40 kinds of tequila. Now that will have you shaking off the winter blahs in no time! 361 Elgin St., 613-234-8872.