I was in the Capital Region just over a week ago. It has been five years since my last visit. I found that as far as food goes Ottawa is still in an upswing. The market area, Elgin street and the other side of the river all offered something worthwhile.
In the market, I went to Mello`s on Dalhousie Street. This is a diner that has been in the same spot for quite a while now. The food is classic diner fare. I had the hot chicken sandwich with lots of gravy on both the sandwich and the mashed potatoes. I ate a few of these when I went to university in Ottawa and I can assure that they have not changed a bit--good hearty food. I had a taste of the hot beef sandwich which is good, but I`d take the chicken one. A pleasant surprise was that I rather enjoyed the strawberry milkshake as well. They`re open late too.
Elgin Street. There is a chip truck on Lisgar and Elgin during the day that has good poutine. Four those who are not initiated, poutine is french fries and cheese curds covered in gravy. This chip truck`s is good. Crispy fries with the curds mixed and then the gravy added on top. The gravy will sink to the bottom of the styrofoam cup--consider that a reward at the end of the meal. At lunch, a large will fill up the largest apetite. I recommend the medium.
Elgin Street, a couple blocks south of Lisgar. It`s not the equivalent of Schwartz`s or some of the other places available in Montreal, but if you do find yourself in Ottawa and have a hankering for Smoked Meat I can recommend Dunn`s on Elgin. Their Smoked Meat on rye with mustard may not be the food of the gods, but it sure does keep the hunger pangs away while tasting good. We found the chopped egg sandwich a bit dry. And keep in mind that their poutine doesn`t have real cheese curds.
Hull for dinner. Panaché. This is a French Canadian restaurant on the north side of the river in Québec. It`s just off of Boul. St. Laurent at Edy. Excellent French food with a local touch and good prices. If you have time for only one upscale dinner in Ottawa-Hull, consider Panaché.
There is a main diningroom, but they also have privaterooms for groups. I was in a group of 12 in one of said private rooms. Prix Fixe meals run around $25-35 Cdn. This includes a soup/salad, apetizer, entrée and desert. They had a gaspacho in which they had substituted the tomatoes for local strawberries. It tasted interesting and good. I was concerned that the strawberries would be too sweet but this was not the case. The pâté de fois gras I had was good, not too rich. The rack of lamb was really good. Lamb done in a rosemary-garlic crust, it certainly wasnt the first time that I`d had this combination, but it was one of the best. Desert was a nice crème brûlé done with maple syrup, a nice touch. The wine list had a strong listing of mostly-french wines. The only dissappointment concerning the food at Panaché that I heard was from my neighbour who was upset that there were too many sweetbreads for him to eat. I recommend reservations.
My biggest regret in Ottawa during this trip was that I never had a chance to get a shawarma. Unless things have changed drastically in five years, there are some excellent Lebanese places in Ottawa.
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