1 Clarence St, Ottawa – (613) 241-2200 – Website
Date of Visit: July 7, 2013
I have passed by this place numerous times on forays through Byward Market but it has usually been full. I was actually on my way to have lunch at the Blue Cactus Bar and Grill (which is affiliated with this place), when I was drawn by the pleasant patio here. The lunch menu is rather abbreviated, consisting of a small number of appetizers and salads, some pasta selections, as well as pizza and a house burger, but there are also a few more substantial entrees including a strip-loin steak and Chicken Parmigiano. The dinner menu, which I asked to look at, was substantially the same, although there were a few additional seafood dishes, including an interesting paella. Fortunately, I was in the mood, on this very hot day, for something simple and the house burger sounded about right for lunch…
Ambience and service
I arrived about 11:30 am and the place was still empty. I was greeted and served right away and the young man who tended to me throughout my visit was very courteous and helpful. I had a quick look inside the restaurant and can say that the interior looks very comfortable indeed, being nicely appointed with dark brick walls and simple, understated fittings. The place has an something of a Mediterranean feel about it (at least in the inside part) and features the plain white table cloths and gleaming table settings of your more upscale Italian eatery.
The house burger I ordered is specially prepared with capicolla (or, ‘Gabagool’, as they say on ‘The Sopranos’), fontina cheese and a basil aioli. Either fries or salad are offered and I opted for the former, which was a good choice as they were homemade rather than commercially frozen and very good.
The burger itself was pretty substantial (a third of a pound, I would guess) and I had to remove the generous tomato slices and lettuce in order to make it of more ‘bite-able’ dimensions. The fontina was a nice addition, and the basil aioli added a pleasant background flavor, but I have to say that I couldn’t really detect the capicolla above the meaty flavor of the beef. The patty itself was just a tad overdone, but not badly so, and it had a nicely charred and caramelized outer crust. Personally, I thought it was very nicely seasoned but I think that some would have found it just a bit too salty. In all, though, I enjoyed the meal very much. Rating: 4 out of 5.
I probably wouldn’t choose this place as somewhere to go for a ‘fine-dining’ sort of meal, but it is definitely a pleasant locale for drinks and a decent meal to round things out. It has a pleasant ambience and the service was very good. Rating: 4 out of 5.