Skip to content

Review: Hard Rock Café

73 York St, Ottawa – (613) 241-2442 – Website

Hard Rock Cafe 1

Date of Visit: July 6, 2013

The Hard Rock Cafe in Ottawa’s Byward Market is just one in a huge chain of restaurants with locations around the world. Despite the fact that the general culinary theme reflects the American southwest, the empire had its beginnings, I was surprised to learn, in London, England.

The selection of food available in these places is generally family restaurant fare, with the obligatory nachos and Chicken wings, but they also do a bit of a line in smokehouse delicacies as well. In general, the menu is not one that would tempt me especially but the Byward Market  restaurant has a nice outdoor patio with a pleasant view and so, on a very hot and humid day, I decided to see what they could do with a steak…

Ambience and Service

When I arrived at around 6pm on a Saturday evening, the patio and inside part of the restaurant were almost completely full. The place is well staffed, however and I was greeted, seated and served my first drink within 5 minutes of arrival. The servers all seem to be college age young ladies and gentlemen and they were all friendly and courteous to a fault. My only real quibble was with being asked repeatedly if I was ready to order after clearly indicating I planned to have a drink or two at first. No doubt the staff are trained to do this but I very much wish they would take their cues from the customer in this regard.

Hard Rock Cafe 2

The interior of the building is sleekly modern and rather in the fashion of an upscale sports bar but is decorated with all sorts of rock music pictures and memorabilia. After I had been seated for a while, I noticed that there is also an outdoor deck on the upper floor of the building but it seemed not to be in use at the time. Generally, the place is very pleasant but I did note that the washrooms, located in the basement, gave aromatic evidence of not having been sufficiently cleaned in some time.

The Food

I did give serious consideration to sampling one of the many specialty burgers on offer, and I saw a number of people clearly enjoying these, but I had my heart set on a steak and opted for the 12oz New York strip with Merlot Butter. An 8oz sirloin is also offered and, while I would have been happier with a smaller steak, I decided on the better cut.

Hard Rock Cafe 3

The presentation of my entree was a bit sparse and unbalanced owing to the fact that I waived the garlic mashed potatoes that usually accompany the steak. There were other starches and sides on offer but I didn’t feel move to try any. Instead, I just went with the garlic butter broccoli that was the vegetable of the day. I didn’t notice until after I had finished the meal that the promised Merlot Butter had been forgotten by the kitchen staff.

Hard Rock Cafe 4

To be fair, my steak was nicely seasoned and a reasonably tender cut but, beyond that, I don’t have much decent to report. I always order my steak charred on the outside and medium rare in the middle, but this didn’t even come close. There was no more than a faint hint of pinkness in the center of the thickest part and the rest was seriously overdone. I always say that you shouldn’t expect great steak outside a proper steakhouse, but messing up a medium rare order like this is totally amateur.  Given that the broccoli was clearly inexpertly thawed from the frozen package, and barely hinting at any garlic flavor, I could only rate this effort at 2/5 


The ambience at Hard Rock Cafe is very pleasant and the staff well trained and efficient. However, my meal was barely mediocre and I do not plan to return any time soon to any of their locations. Nonetheless, I had a fairly nice time there, so I give the place a somewhat grudging 3/5

Hard Rock Cafe on Urbanspoon

3 Comments Post a comment
  1. We used to have one of them here in Dublin. It was dire. I suffered it twice. The second time because I was drunk. One had a marginally better experience if drunk.
    Thanks be to goodness, it wend bust or something.

    July 17, 2013
    • I just heard the Ottawa location is closing… won’t be missed by me.

      July 17, 2013
  2. In order to get your Paris Pass in that great city, you have to go to their Hard Rock Cafe to obtain the paperwork. A decidedly depressing visit! We got in and got out ASAP – and enjoyed the rest of our Paris holiday blissfully American-influence free. 🙂

    July 19, 2013

Comments, thoughts or suggestions most welcome...

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Meet & Eats

The food that I've had the pleasure of meeting and eating.

Uncle Grumpy's Playroom

Current events, humor, science, religion, satire

Food Travel Lover

走过的地方 尝过的美食 留下的回忆

The Odd Pantry

Essays on food

Reputable Sources

Organizing ferments since 2013

that Other Cooking Blog

. food . photo . sous vide .


My Virtual Cookbook to Share My Love and Joy of Food and Cooking One Recipe at a Time

lola rugula

my journey of cooking, gardening, preserving and more

Yummy Lummy

I cook, photograph and eat food with the occasional restaurant review!

Eye Of the Beholder

A pair of eternally curious eyes and a camera...Life is beautiful.

gluten free zen

Taking The Stress Out Of Gluten-Free Grain-Free & Dairy-Free Living

Clayton's Kitchen

Big flavors and fun cooking from a cubbyhole kitchen

Bunny Eats Design

Happy things, tasty food and good design


Dentist chef, just a dentistry student who practice the dentist's cooking recipes in a dentist's kitchen

Mad Dog TV Dinners

Guess what's coming to dinner?


Real Food & Real Opinions

Bento Days

Making bentos for kids

Garden to Wok

Fresh and tasty!

Bam's Kitchen

Healthy World Cuisine

Trang Quynh

everyone is special in their own way :)

Farm to Table Asian Secrets

Full-Flavored Recipes for Every Season


If people say that life is too short to drink bad wine, it means also that life is too short to eat crappy food!

The Blog

The latest news on and the WordPress community.

The Unorthodox Epicure

Confessions of an Aspiring Food Snob

The 好吃 Challenge

1 girl, 273 days, 100 recipes


a recipe sharing and bento blog


Just another site

The Food Nazi

Never try to eat more than you can lift

Expat Chef in Barcelona

From my kitchen to yours

Keeping Up With the Holsbys

a journey into my head and my pantry

Nurul's Culinary Adventures

I Love Food, the Universe and Everything!!


home-cooking recipes, restaurant reviews, International cuisine ,

Naked Vegan Cooking

Body-positive Vegan Goodness

Bites of Food History

Sharing my Experimental Archaeology of Food

Stefan's Gourmet Blog

Cooking, food, wine


A Journey About Food, Recipes And Destinations


Fresh, exciting and adventurous food journey

One Man's Meat

Multi-award winning food blog, written in Dublin, Ireland.

%d bloggers like this: