City Bites

INTRODUCING: two six {ate}, Preston Street’s new late-night munchies joint opens on Friday

First-time restaurateurs Emily Ienzi and boyfriend Steve Harris have transformed the former Lindenhof restaurant into a hip new small plates spot

It’s the mom-and-pop shop re-envisioned by a new generation. You take a front-of-house girl whose family comes from Italy’s Puglia region and a boy who cooks with roots in Nova Scotia and you give them access to an urban garden and an 80-seat restaurant; toss in a coin-operated vintage Ms. PAC-MAN machine and a DJ and you’ve got the ingredients for a fun-loving new Ital-Canadian snack food joint on Preston Street called two six {ate}.

It opens officially on Friday. When I stopped by for a sneak peek of the place on Monday, the full face-lift, which began on August 17, made it unrecognizable from its former occupant, the Lindenhof restaurant.

It’s got all the hallmarks of the new breed of hipster hang-out: the tattooed chef, the reclaimed barnboard walls, the old-school cocktails, the funky lighting, and the playful menu offering an upscale twist on trashy kid food like Pogos and poutine. Words like foie gras torchon, sashimi, and heirloom tomatoes add heft to a menu that is a giddy mix of snack food nostalgia and Italian classics. There’s a kitchen that won’t quit until the wee hours of the morning, talk of nose-to-tail and seasonal cooking and a commitment to keeping it affordable — so far nothing on the menu is over 20 bucks.

After meeting the couple in question — 32-year-old ex-Allium Chef Steve Harris and his girlfriend Emily Ienzi, who was Lago’s banquette manager — I got the impression the personalities involved will infuse the place with a unique homespun vibe. Emily’s family has been heavily involved, both as financial backers for the project and as the contractor (Emily’s brother is part of Krate, the design team that also worked on Hintonburg Public House and the new Westboro Fratelli) and food suppliers (Emily’s parent have two acres of apple orchards, hundreds of tomato plants and grape vines, as well as making their own prosciutto and other Italian goodies).

Emily’s mom is even lending the family’s top-secret pan-fried calzone recipe to the cause. Steve expects it will become one of the restaurant’s signature dishes. “Those things are epic,” he says. When I ask him to describe his own cooking style, Steve calls it “fly by the seat of my pants.”  He likes messing around with whatever ingredients he has on hand and coming up with something tasty. He credits his own grandma with giving him a love of making preserves and baking fresh pies — the flavours of those East Coast summers will surely work their way into the menu as well.

Two six {ate}, 268 Preston St., 613-695-8200, twosixate.com

Grand opening: Friday, September 28

Regular Hours: Wednesday to Monday, 4 p.m.- 2 a.m.

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  • Jessica Fletcher

    Ex Allium Chef???!
    Get a fact checker.

  • Shawna

    Ok, I double-checked and indeed Harris has been working at Allium for the last 3 years.

  • Jessica Fletcher

    With all due respect to Mr. Harris. There is a distinction to be made between between working in a kitchen for 3 years and being the chef of said kitchen. There-in lies your mistake Shawna.

  • Sarah Brown, editor

    The term “chef” has come to be used loosely to refer to anybody who cooks in a professional kitchen — that is how Shawna Wagman used the term, and Ottawa Magazine does not see any problem in using it in this way.

    When Wagman contacted Allium owner/head chef Arup Jana to confirm the information in the blog post, he was fine with the term “chef” being used to describe Steve Harris’s contribution at Allium.

    Ottawa Magazine now considers this discussion closed.

  • Emily Ienzi

    Jessica, in no way does Shawna imply that Mr Harris was the executive chef at allium. Harris has been working in kitchens for fifteen years, cooking for twelve years, and at allium for three. There are positions in kitchens other than executive chef that are still deserving of the title “chef.” This article describes the opening of a new restaurant and is not meant to be a platform for people to dispute Harris’ training, skills, and experience – all of which have helped him earn the title of chef.

  • http://about.me/kylemcinnes Kyle McInnes

    To Jessica and the 8 people who liked this – lighten up. Judge based on the food, not somebody’s credentials.

    The great part of this story is that it’s a young couple trying their hand at entrepreneurship and being restaurateurs. It’s going to be a tough but rewarding journey I’m sure and it’s amazing to have people like Emily and Steve in Ottawa. I’ll be going this weekend.

  • karlsson65

    Not to mention, nice handle “Jessica” – or should we call you Ms. Lansbury? Next time you go around trashing someone, maybe try using your real name.

  • Jill

    Not quite sure who wrote these reviews but we walked out of this restaurant. First, nothing is more unappealing than paper as menu. Single, print at home menus but worst, they were dirty! If you want printed paper menu fine, but at least take the time to print fresh ones for the night! We were the first clients. The wine list is shameful. Only 5 white/red and not of high quality either. Cocktails are your usual, nothing inventive. The menu did look somewhat appealing but we left without tasting the food. The whole ambiance, lack of wine and choppy service was a turn off. We asked about specific wine and were told their Merlot/Cab was a “light and fruity” wine???? We are sommelier so we chuckled at the ammateur attempt.
    Try Thaipas down teh road. Better wine list, better service and nice , CLEANER interiors!