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Review: Café Spiga

271 Dalhousie St., Ottawa – (613) 241-4381 – Website

Spiga 1

Date of Visit: March 13, 2013

I have tried to visit Spiga on a couple of different trips to Ottawa but something has always intervened and made it impossible. Just recently, however, I managed to get there for lunch and I enjoyed the pleasant house wine and a couple of very interesting dishes…

Ambience and Service

Spiga 2

Café Spiga has around 15 tables, or so, one of which is sequestered in a very pleasant and cozy private dining area. The décor is a nicely balanced fusion of stone, chrome, and wood and the place is comfortable and just dark enough to be relaxing. There were only a few tables occupied during my visit, but there were enough patrons that the sole waitress was kept quite busy. She was very friendly and efficient and I rather got the impression that she might be one of the owners as she seemed to be take genuine pleasure from my compliments on the food.

Spiga 3

The washrooms in Spiga are downstairs and, when I visited, I got to see their wine cellar, which is fairly decently stocked. The restaurant was advertising a dinner special which offers one’s choice appetizer, entrée and desert for two at the price of $60.00 and includes a bottle of a Portuguese wine called Lello, which is a Douro varietal and is available as a red or white. I took this to be the house wine and I tried a glass of the red, finding it very pleasant. It was nicely dry with damson and plum qualities and a faint hint of salty leather I liked. I generally prefer a red that is a bit more full-bodied but I made the note that this would be worth buying for the table at home sometime.

The Food

The menu at Spiga is a balance of Portuguese and Italian. There are quite a number of dishes I would have like to have tried but, in this visit, I limited myself to a couple of selections from the appetizer list:

Spiga 4

Grilled Octopus with Portuguese Vinaigrette – This dish was excellent, although I am not sure where the vinaigrette came into the picture. There was mayonnaise based dressing on the side that was flavored with lime and black pepper and, while this was not especially exciting, there were also some Italian style pickles consisting of cauliflower, celery and olives that provided a nice acidic counterpoint to the richness of the rest of the dish. The octopus was nicely grilled and served in a spicy, reddish oil with purple onion and was extremely tender. I actually prefer a little more chewiness to octopus (this was really fork tender) but that is really just a matter of personal preference and I though the dish deserved a rating of 4 out of 5.

Spiga 5

Chourico Flambe – This was a very interesting and novel item. It was a Portuguese sausage served on an unusual grill-topped earthen dish whose bottom was filled with salted brandy that was set alight before being served. Usually, flaming alcohol burns out very quickly but this kept on going, cooking and charring the sausage beautifully until I blew out the flames in order to eat.

Spiga 6

The sausage itself was not really like any Chorizo I have ever had (either Spanish or Mexican). On the exterior, it resembled a frankfurter or knackwurst in appearance, even down to the thickness of the skin, but, aside from a slight smokiness in taste, the resemblance ended there. As you can see, the texture is a mix of very thick chunks of meat and fat and the flavor, to my mind, was like a very nicely cured ham with a decent jolt of spicy paprika. Dipped in the remaining apple-like brandy, it was delicious and I gave it a 4 out of 5.


Café Spiga is well worth a visit and I really enjoyed the novel delicacies I sampled. There are a good number of other dishes available that I would like to try and I will definitely return on subsequent trips to the capital. I rate it at a decent 4 out of 5.


Cafe Spiga on Urbanspoon

5 Comments Post a comment
  1. I am beginning to realize that I should learn how to do restaurant review from you. I just went to a dumpling restaurant and will write something. But mine will not be as comprehensive as yours. This is an interesting dish…Portuguese sausage…

    Can you tell me how you get the 77% like it and the 49 votes etc about this restaurant. …oh it is from urbanspoon…I will check that out. Thanks.

    March 31, 2013
    • It was restaurant reviews that got me started blogging actually.

      On urbanspoon restaurant entries, under the heading ‘opinions’ they have three buttons where you can choose to add (a) a ‘guide’, (b) a ‘review’ (where you just write a paragraph or two directly to their web-page), or (c) ‘Add a blog post’.

      If you select the latter, it takes you to a page where you can copy your choice of html code that will produce the little graphic image in your blog post (I use the biggest one). When you first start doing this, it takes a few days for the link to your blog to show up at Urbanspoon. Once you have been doing it for a while, Urbanspoon will contact you with details that let you edit your own entries at their site so they appear much more quickly.

      Good luck 🙂

      March 31, 2013
      • I saw the site. In your opinion which is the better one, comparing to YELP, open table, and some others? I am not particularly happy with them, and will prefer to read yours!!

        March 31, 2013
      • Yelp is the only you mention that I am familiar with … Yelp is okay but I like Urbanspoon as they are blogger friendly in that they allow a link to your review on your blog page rather than just typing in a review at their site.

        March 31, 2013
  2. That chorizo flambé looks awesome!

    April 7, 2013

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