It’s a question that challenges assumptions and calls restaurateurs to make their pitch, which is exactly what Shawna Wagman was trying to do when she invited five insiders from the city’s foodie scene to gather at Urban Element earlier this year. As Shawna wrote in her introduction, cooking for chefs — and probing them with questions about the industry — was an exhilarating and frightening experiment. In fact, the same words might be used to describe running a restaurant. This past year was a particularly tough one for the industry, but hard economic times don’t appear to be stifling the creativity in our city’s kitchens. While many were saddened to see the end of Domus, this year also saw the opening of five new restaurants on Bank Street alone. So it would seem Ottawans have plenty of answers to the question on our cover.
This food feature also celebrates the first year of Anne DesBrisay’s tenure as Ottawa Magazine’s restaurant critic. Of course, Anne has been writing about Ottawa restaurants for decades, but having one person serve as chief taster for a publication is a unique treasure. Check out her “Dish List” — it’s both a summary of her most memorable meals and a guidebook for those who wrestle with menu decisions. (Who doesn’t?)
Speaking of guidebooks, we tossed some fun bits into “The Encyclopedia of Eating Now.” Perplexed by small plates? Looking to perfect your reservation-making technique? Questioning the allure of brunch? Shawna Wagman offers informative and witty remarks for all this and more.
Also in this issue is “Northern Contact,” a series of articles on Ottawa’s connections to the Far North. Like Leslie Reid, my father travelled to the Arctic and was amazed by what he saw there; my sister, too, felt the call of the North and is now living in Yellowknife. I have yet to visit the land of the midnight sun, but I have been watching this aspect of our city’s culture since I settled here. I have grown to appreciate the Inuit population as a remarkable treasure that contributes much to our identity. And as a society, I believe we are beginning to recognize the North as a thriving, dynamic area from which we can draw knowledge and inspiration.
Coming up: We are already well into the planning of our annual Interiors issue. Once again, we’re working with Great Space guru Sarah Brown to bring the most spectacular homes to our 2015 edition. This time around, we’re visiting a glamorous condo, an artist’s home with a breathtaking view, and a classic mid-century modern abode, among others. As Interiors becomes a celebrated part of the local design scene, it allows for unique opportunities for partnerships among editors, art directors, photographers, writers, and subjects. Without giving away too much, I will simply say that we are having a whole lot of fun, which can only lead to great things.