Review: The Lunenburg Pub
14 Waller St., Ottawa, – (613) 860-2277 – Website
Date of Visit: December 7, 2012
I have passed by the Lunenburg Pub many times as it sits just around the corner from Les Suites Hotel, which is where I usually stay when I am in Ottawa. For a long time, I had the impression that the place was out of business as I could never see any evidence of activity inside. It turns out, however, that it doesn’t open until 4 pm most days (which is a point to be noted for those wishing to visit). On my most recent visit to the capital, I had a look at the menu they have posted outside the entrance and, seeing that were still indeed a going concern, made a point of checking them out…
Ambience and Service
The pub is housed in what appears to be one of Ottawa’s heritage buildings and the interior retains the original stone walls with lots of heavy beams and rough-hewn wood which give the place a certain dark rustic charm. I arrived before 5 pm and it was already starting to fill, but, rather than the university crowd I expected, most patrons seemed to be in the thirtyish age range and quite a few briefcases were in evidence. I took a seat in a bay window and, because the main floor is below ground level, my eyes were below street level and it struck me that, on a snowy winter day the place would be very cozy. I didn’t realize until I had been inside for a little while that there is also an upper floor to the place and that musical entertainment is featured there on some evenings. It was unfortunate that, on this occasion, the management appeared to be testing a new sound system and were continually changing the level of music from quietly unobtrusive to loud blasting, which was very unsettling and made me wonder why they couldn’t have done this during the day when they were closed.
The waitress who served me, and who seemed to be doubling as bartender as well, was very friendly and chatty. She kept me well supplied with drinks after I first arrived and managed to cover the floor very efficiently by herself until joined by other staff members as the place started to fill up. It was only after I ordered food that the service seemed to slow down, but, in all fairness, this seemed to be a kitchen problem and not one of inattentiveness on the part of the table staff.
The menu at The Lunenburg is typical pub fare. They do burgers (and, perhaps inevitably, one called ‘the Lunenburger’), as well as pizzas, sandwiches and pasta dishes. There are also some more substantial offerings but nothing especially exotic, although they do make a lobster poutine which looks interesting. The section of the menu that did catch my attention was entitled ‘Smokehouse Platters’ and, it would appear that all items listed are smoked in- house. The various platters, according to the menu, all come with coleslaw, and either fries or potato salad and, since I had hard time choosing between the meats on offer, I ultimately went with the combo platter…
Smokehouse Combo – This was offered as smoked ribs with a choice of either chicken or brisket and, after some considerable thought, I decided on the chicken. Unfortunately, I don’t think the other option would have been better because, all in all, the entire meal was a disappointment.
Firstly, neither the ribs nor the chicken really had any particularly ‘smoky’ flavor. The former were merely slathered with some sort of fruity salsa glaze, while the chicken was coated with a boring generic BBQ seasoning and, since it was a boneless breast (usually a poor choice for grilling), ended up being far too dry. The fries were adequate, I suppose, but the coleslaw, of the coarsely shredded variety (which I usually like) was made with a vinaigrette seasoned with a dried dill that had clearly been way too long on the shelf. Reluctantly, I could only rate this meal at a 1 out of 5.
My meal, on this occasion, was very disappointing, and the sound system testing the management was undertaking during the evening really spoiled things for me. Aside from this, however, there was quite a bit about this place that I liked… It is a comfortable, cozy sort of place and the service, I must admit, was really top-notch. As for being a good place to eat, I would have to say that the jury really remains out on that issue, given the single dish I selected, but, having said that, I will give the menu another try sometime and will almost certainly be back for a drink or two…