Food and Wine

Top Ten Restaurants 2010

The Wellington Gastropub

1325 Wellington St. W., 613-729-1315, thewellingtongastropub.com

The dish: Bison meatballs. Served with broccoli and cheddar ravioli and local vegetables

Not only does my server know that my steak is a lime-marinated flat iron when I ask why the cut is so remarkably tender and flavourful, but he shows me that it comes from the shoulder with a tap on his own arm. Call David Letterman; this guy knows his cuts of meat. He is equally adept at recommending an ideal glass of wine for my mood and then keeps an eye on me from a distance to make sure I am always looked after without ever having the sense of being looked over. The food is delicious, always made with love, perfectly cooked, and served piping hot. Invariably some items work better than others, a natural consequence of a menu that changes twice daily. With less time for rehearsal, each dish practically debuts upon its creation. For me, the Gastropub is a perfect example of what the French are calling bistronomy. This place buzzes with the requisite amount of good-natured gabbing complemented by a rotation of indie music beloved by the T-shirt- and jeans-wearing staff — tunes that are likely unrecognizable to the majority of its well-heeled clientele. Some of them have been known to complain about noise levels, yet the roster of regulars keeps this place constantly hopping. The Welly is really a cosmic meeting of great mojo between its co-owners: chef Chris Deraiche, who works wonders with pots and pans, while Shane Waldron orchestrates nothing short of a waltz in the front of house. They must be good guys to work for, since it seems there has been relatively little staff turnover in their five years of business. I’ve also noticed that on almost every visit, I find myself seated next to a couple on a first date — with so much wooing going on, it’s not just the owners who must be feeling lucky.

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