Thanks for all the great recommendations, either direct or indirect!
Friday evening we had dinner at Luxe. The restaurant itself was quite nice inside though I could see how it would be noisy if full because the tables were close together, but we had an early seating (6:30 pm). My boyfriend was...impressed by the look of both our hostess and waitress, so his night was already going well. ;) They were both very nice as well.
As you may recall, I had been looking for places with a decent vegetarian selection for him and thought that Luxe had a number of pasta options - but I was wrong! I must have skimmed over the menu online because in effect there was only one choice (the primavera). Oops! However, our server said he could have the tortellini without ham so we each ended up having that, though mine had the ham. First, however, the appetizers: absolutely wonderful! I ordered the frites because I can't stay away from aioli sauce, and he ordered the bruschetta (one of the few non-meat apps). He said, and after I tasted it I agreed, that it was the best bruschetta he'd ever eaten. The only problem was there was so MUCH of it! If I eat there again, I'll order just the bruschetta and dessert. It was piled high with tomatoes, basil, and semi-melted brie.
I'm afraid we were probably already getting full when our tortellini came - and were deep into some discussion - because we only picked at it. We agreed later that it wasn't all that special. We had decided not to order wine because it makes us both tired and went with mojitos, which were pretty good. Also, the place had filled up a lot while we ate and it definitely got a bit loud.
We had intended to catch a late movie but saw we could get to the earlier showing if we skipped dessert, so we did, unfortunately.
Saturday afternoon we had brunch at the Scone Witch. Delicious! The scones were a good size but not heavy, there was a great choice of jams (though why no current jams??) and we had the scrambled eggs on the side. I really liked the atmosphere and would definitely see myself going there often if I lived in Ottawa.
The piece de resistance was for Saturday night: The Black Cat Cafe. Everyone who raved about it here certain had it right! We were already impressed just after we walked in - delightful ambience, quite music, low lighting but not dark, and stark decor. Our table was in the front but on the non-door side, and there was only one other occupied table in that area so it was still quiet. The tasting menu was being offered but it wouldn't have been a good choice for a vegetarian or for two people who don't drink much wine.
I started with the aromatic carrot soup and he ordered the fennel and swiss chard salad. All of the dishes were very artfully plated, something which he wasn't used to. He also wasn't used to the server explaining/describing each dish upon presentation. The soup was quite good but not as warm as I would have liked (that was the day the temp dropped to around -20C) though he was happy with his salad. He did make a comment about thinking he would still be hungry when he left, if all of the portions were going to be "like this." I told him to wait and see.
For the main dishes, he ordered the gnocchi while I decided on the duck plate. In hindsight, I probably would have gone with something else because it was a little overwhelmingly DUCK - I'm not sure there were any vegetables! It was very good, but not very much variety. He, on the other hand, could not have been happier with his gnocchi, and when I tasted it, I knew what I would order if I ever had the pleasure of eating there again. It was amazing and he finished every last one. He said it was the best he'd ever had.
For dessert we shared the warm chocolate fondant cake (which I had hoped would be gooier) and the chili truffles - heavenly! By the time we left, we were both pleasantly full and very happy with our dining experience.
As an aside, because of our plans, our location, and the bloody cold weather, I never did make it to the Glebe Loeb for the HobNobs. I'll have to return!