Food and Wine

Best Restaurants of 2011: #9 Murray Street Kitchen Wine Charcuterie

The Murray Street Reuben includes Don O’Brien beef brisket on Rideau Bakery rye with in-house sauerkraut, in-house pastrami, le Clos St-Ambroise cheese, pickled onions, and spicy mustard-mayo. Photo by photoluxstudio.com/Christian Lalonde.

It’s not just the giant pig’s head theme that makes me feel that Murray Street is an unnaturally macho environment. It has always struck me as a place where boys feel most welcome. That and the $30-plus main courses (lunches make more sense at $16) are what drive me nuts about this place. Let’s just get that out of the way.

No one else has embraced the locavore and snout-to-tail cooking crazes as seriously as chef Steve Mitton. If you’re thinking you want to gather up a bunch of mates to feast on parts of a pig once reserved for the compost, Mitton is your man. His dedication to connecting Ottawa eaters with the food that is grown and raised all around us is admirable. This year he aimed to expand the reach for his farm-to-table proselytizing with Murray’s Market, a nearby takeout shop and lunch counter where customers had access to many of the raw ingredients used in the restaurant. Unfortunately, though the restaurant remains as popular as ever, the Market lasted but a few months, closing up shop in October.

The restaurant’s Canadian cheeses and unusual charcuterie offerings make for some of the best noshing in town. I watched a pair of well-heeled lunching ladies clink their wineglasses as they surveyed their selection of artfully displayed smoked duck breast, seven-year-old cheddar, and elk terrine delivered on a large wooden cutting board. Clever boys’ clubs know how to charm the ladies.

110 Murray St., 613-562-7244, www.murraystreet.ca.

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