62 William Street, Ottawa – (613) 241-0066 – Website
Date of Visit: July 26, 2012
The Aulde Dubliner sits in Byward Market just beside The Highlander Pub. I have been here before a couple of times (once with my wife) but only for drinks and never a meal. On this trip to Ottawa, I planned to have a steak as at least one of my restaurant experiences and, after working up a thirst shopping in the Market for a couple of hours, I decided to stop at this place for lunch…
Ambience and Service
The outdoor patio at The Aulde Dubliner is very pretty with lots of hanging flowers, whilst the inside is comfortable and very traditionally appointed with lots of dark wood and brass. I sat outside whilst I sampled a few different beers but as it was starting to get a little uncomfortably hot in the afternoon sun, I took a table inside by the open doors for my steak.
I arrived just after 11am and the place was already quite busy. The service did not suffer as a result, however, as there seemed to be at least 8 or 10 servers covering the tables. Only two of these were male and it was impossible not to notice that all the young waitresses here were, without exception, so pretty as to completely buck the statistical odds. I don’t mean, by that observation, to suggest that looks rather than ability might be the sole hiring criteria though, as the service was really top-notch. My server, who was very personable, helpful and chatty, was actually the prettiest of all and, while I would like to think that was because she was irresistibly drawn to me, it may just have been because I happened to be sitting in her section….
Anyway… As I was perusing the drinks menu, my server suggested I try the ‘Heart and Crown Lager’, which is currently celebrating a special anniversary, having been brewed for twenty years. There is also a ‘Heart and Crown’ Pub in the Market and my waitress explained to me that this pub, along with The Aulde Dubliner, and several others, are all under the same ownership and that the lager in question is brewed exclusively for these establishments. I did try it, as she suggested, and I found it to be very pleasant indeed. It had a good strong body along with a nice, crispy tang, and I gave it a beer rating of 4 out of 5 points.
The menu has a couple of steak selections and, as rib steak is my favorite, I chose the 10oz boneless Wellington County rib eye with fries, which was described as being served with a port-shallot demi-glace and in-house, handcrafted ketchup. It was also possible to have either garlic shrimp or sautéed mushrooms and onions on the side, but I gave these a miss.
The steak, I am sad to say, was a letdown. I always order steaks medium rare and nicely charred but this one was cooked almost to the point of being well done and was not charred at all. The cut was also not a good one as it was quite tough and there were a couple of lines of gristle through the meat. The so-called demi-glace, which was served on the side, was also not especially good and really tasted like a commercially packaged powdered bouillon gravy. The hand cut fries were okay, I suppose, but the handcrafted ketchup didn’t taste a great deal different than the variety in the plastic Heinz bottle that was also served to me for some reason. The whole meal, unfortunately, rated no more than a 2 out of 5.
The meal portion of my experience at The Aulde Dubliner Pub was a definite disappointment but I am still not inclined to review the place to harshly for a number of reasons. First, I had excellent and friendly service and enjoyed a nice relaxing time with good beer in very pleasant surroundings. Secondly, I am cognizant of the fact that I ordered a steak in a pub rather than a proper steakhouse and one cannot reasonably expect the quality to be quite the same, especially given the difference in price. Lastly, I saw quite a few other meals being served and all looked very nice (especially the fish and chips) and the other patrons seemed to eat them with enjoyment. Ultimately, I am prepared to mark this particular steak experience as just being an unfortunate aberration and not let it stop me from returning in the future.