284 Elgin St, Ottawa – Website
Date of Visit: January, 2016
The Sir John A is named after Sir John A. MacDonald, Canada’s first Prime Minister, and it is perhaps rather apt that a pub be named after him as he has gone down in history as something of a major tippler. I paid a visit to the place on a Thursday afternoon, to sample a few local ales and read, and I ended up staying for supper. Not only did I taste several beers that were new to me, I also got to try a dish I had never had before…
The interior of the pub is a pleasant, wood-paneled place and quite cozy. It probably seats over 100 but it is nicely laid out and not at all cramped. There were only a few patrons drinking at the bar when I arrived in mid-afternoon and it remained nice and quiet during my entire stay. The server, who was also tending bar, was very pleasant and chatty and made sure my glass didn’t remain empty for long.
The bar serves quite a good number of local beers and there also a dozen single malts available, as well as the usual cocktails and 8 signature Martinis. The food menu runs mainly to burgers, sandwiches and pizza, but there is also a selection of entrees running an eclectic gamut from Fish and Chips to Guinness Peppercorn Steak. There are also 16 entries under the title ‘Starters and Snacks’ and these include Deep Fried Pickles and the interesting sounding Philly Beef Poutine. I almost chose the latter but then decided on the Boxty.
Beef Boxty – Boxty is an Irish dish that is essentially a potato pancake. I have read about it before, and seen recipes, but up until my visit to Sir John’s I had never tried it. Sometimes it is served with just butter and maybe a little sugar, like the more common breakfast pancake, but it is also served folded over savory fillings as well. Here, the Sir John version is filled with grilled sirloin, onions, mushrooms and peppers, and topped with Guinness Peppercorn Gravy. The boxty itself was much lighter in texture than I expected and would probably have been almost spongy if thicker. The beef was just a little tough, but it was very tasty and the onions, while sweet from grilling, still retained a little crunch, which I very much liked. The gravy had a bit of a powdered mix taste to it but the peppercorns added a nice lively sparkle and I really enjoyed the dish as a whole. I rated it at a 4 out of 5.
Sir John A. is a very nice little pub. I can’t see going back just for the food, by any means, but it has a great beer selection, reasonable prices, and is a pleasant place to while away an afternoon or evening. I give it a 5 out of 5.