The 2012-2013 edition of Ottawa Magazine’s Eating & Drinking Guide is a food lover’s bible for everything local, with 80+ pages of restaurant, wine, food shop, and kitchen store recommendations. Look for it on newsstands or order it here.
Sneak Peek: Ottawa Magazine food editor Shawna Wagman provides the Eating & Drinking Guide with her choices for 15 taste-worthy additions to the local food scene. Here, her first five picks for tastiest new entries to the city’s simmering culinary landscape.
You need not own your own monogrammed tamper to feel at home in the massive high-tech multi-million-dollar Bridgehead Roastery tucked in the heart of Little Italy. Only a curious mind, a caffeine craving, and an open palate are needed to enjoy the offerings at the so-called Brew Bar. Knowledgeable staff are happy to offer a demonstration when you make a purchase. Like rediscovering a long-lost friend, Bridgehead is reintroducing many espresso drinkers to the pleasures of properly brewed coffee. Not only does Bridgehead now ensure ultra-fresh, top-quality beans, but they control the entire roasting process as well. At the Brew Bar, customers can take their choice of four different brewing methods — Clever, Siphon, Eva Solo, and Chemex — turning brewed coffee into something as personalized as an espresso drink. Of course, they make those too. 130 Anderson St., 613-233-1221.
Every home cook knows that few pantry staples are as important as a bottle of good extra-virgin olive oil. No wonder EVOO bars are becoming a retail craze across North America! Unlike the supermarket or gourmet shop, where we might choose a bottle based on price, here it’s about the assortment of flavours: think of Emulsify as David’s Tea for salad dressing. With oils bearing such labels as chipotle and Meyer lemon olive oil and balsamic vinegars in cinnamon-pear and espresso, there’s no reason to limit the flavour-packed liquids to lettuce — the sky’s the limit. There’s even a butter-flavoured olive oil to give popcorn that movie theatre taste. Endless opportunities to customize and mix and match — tasting as you go — makes the experience of shopping for oil like a candy store for grown-ups. 1283-B Wellington St. W., 613-695-6457.
Happy Goat Coffee Company
A coffee connoisseur and a self-proclaimed perfectionist, Pierre Richard might be considered a quirky character. These are the traits that led him to begin roasting top-quality green coffee beans from small farms in tiny batches in his Mechanicsville garage. He is responsible for educating the palates of countless coffee lovers in town, creating Happy Goat devotees who are eschewing the home-brewing trend toward single-serve pod coffee makers and embracing the craft-brewing experience. This year he partnered with Henry Assad and relocated to a larger facility in Hintonburg with a 30-seat roastery coffee house and the same commitment to hands-on quality control. 35 Laurel St., 613-792-1309.
Hummingbird Bean-to-Bar Chocolate
Erica Gilmour met her life partner, Drew, in Afghanistan, where they were foreign aid workers. They have now settled in Stittsville, where Erica pours her passion into making chocolate, using beans from small farms in developing countries, while Drew’s work includes travel to cacao-growing co-operatives. Together, they hand-make bars of Hummingbird chocolate that are true to the character of good-quality cacao beans, an experience that has been disappearing because of industrialization and over-processing by giant chocolate companies. Their single-origin bars dazzled chocoholics at the Ottawa Farmers’ Market last summer by proving that dark chocolate has many of the flavour notes normally associated with wine — including cherry, raisin, smoke, honey, peach, pepper, and apricot. 613-627-3814.
Mellos Supper Club
Before Martin Fremeth bought Mellos Diner, one of the city’s oldest surviving restaurants, he sat at the counter starting at 5 a.m. to observe the different waves of hungry patrons. First came the workboot set, next the families with young kids, and later the suits, businessmen, and media personalities. Under Fremeth’s ownership, the 70-year-old landmark received a light facelift and a new mandate — it began a second life as an evening destination. Catering to yet another crowd after dark, Mellos Supper Club serves snacks, an eclectic internationally inspired dinner menu, and plenty of late-night poutine. 290 Dalhousie St., 613-241-1909.