DesBrisay Dines

DESBRISAY DINES: Ola Cocina

BY ANNE DESBRISAY
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Ola Cocina’s plat campesino with pulled pork and a parking ticket. Photo: Anne DesBrisay

Now, well into its second year, Ola Cocina has constructed a ‘tortilla tent’ so neither snow nor rain nor beating sun might slow down the business of al fresco pressing and grilling.

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Ola Cocina — Donna Chevrier’s little corner taqueria in Vanier. Photo: Anne DesBrisay

Donna Chevrier’s little corner taqueria in Vanier continues to plate up two handed flavour bombs: tacos, enchiladas, tortas, tamales, cheese stuffed house pickled jalapeños, plus All Day Mexican Breakfast. Inside or outside. Rain or shine.

Particularly tasty was lunch last week, including Al Pastor tacos, the marinated pork cooked on a trompo, coloured red with achiote, soft, piquant, and tangy with pineapple. Quite a different animal than the pulled pork, with its creamier, richer taco mates and the gentle kick of the house jalapeño crema.

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Ola Cocina’s tacos. Photo: Anne DesBrisay

Duck confit and tandoori chicken tacos are a bit irreverent, but turn out to be winners. The duck comes with house pickled golden beets, dobs of goat cheese, and a cranberry coffee maple sauce that adds a sweet balance to the sour beets and bitter arugula.

The Alambre Plato is a heaped plate of steak — marinated meat, spiced up, grilled to medium rare with peppers and onions, bacon, mushrooms and house queso. It comes with rice, beans and guacamole. Tortillas arrive on the side, along with salsa verde.

On another visit — Ola Cocina’s Plato Campesino (rojo rice, black beans, mango salsa, pico de gallo, sour cream, pulled pork, jalapeno crema, pickled jalapenos, and a side of chips) is a well-balanced jumble of flavour and texture. I take it to go and eat it in the car, in the rain. It softens the blow of the Beechwood parking ticket.

Tacos, $4 each, mains, $12-$17
Closed Monday
62 Barrette Street, 613-746-6222
www.olacocina.ca

 

CHEAP EATS EXTRA! Fantasy Food Trucks

See more Fantasy Food Trucks in the Summer 2015 edition of Ottawa Magazine

By JANE A. CORBETT, art director at Ottawa Magazine

Illustrator Kyle Brownrigg sent along three sketches for his fantasy food trucks. I chose the Beeraoke one for him to finalize for the issue itself, but the other two were such fun that I thought I’d share them with our readers, too, online.  Below Brownrigg’s Iced Cream Pugs and Sorcery Soups, you’ll find a sketch from Dave Merritt’s son, Sam. He calls it the Pizza Launcher. Dave has a background as an animation artist; last year he drew the chalk backgrounds for the shopping feature in the Interiors issue that garnered us a National Magazine Award nomination.

Pugicecream

ICED CREAM PUGS
by Kyle Brownrigg

Illustrator’s comments: I’ve recently had an unhealthy obsession with pug dogs and ice cream. It would be adorably hilarious if they ran a food truck.

Art director’s comments: I particularly like all the little details in this one. The ears on the front of the truck, the pug taking a snooze on top of a cone, and the little pug prints leading up to the order window. I could see the truck and awning being done in ice-cream pastel colours, with the little pugs in the colours of mocha fudge or maple walnut ice-cream. I happen to personally know a  little pug named Baylea who loves ice cream and would be a frequent visitor to this truck.

Read the rest of this story »

FUN WITH LENTILS! Chefs from Absinthe, Atelier, Murray Street, and The Wellington Gastropub compete in Fundelentil tour

THE CRUSADE: Food Day Canada champion Anita Stewart teams up with Canadian Lentils to launch a country-wide campaign to laud the humble lentil — versatile, protein-packed, and a huge crop for Saskatchewan farmers. She calls it “the homegrown ingredient of this century.” Phew! Heady stuff.

THE BATTLE: 24 chefs throw down the gauntlet, each whipping up a signature lentil dish that stays on the menu for the full month of June. Ottawa has four competitors. They made the dish! They made a video of them making their dish! They need your vote to win!

THE OTTAWA COMPETITORS:

Patrick Garland, Absinthe: Moroccan lentil hararira with a bacon-wrapped quail stuffed with dried fruits and pistachios

 

 

Marc Lepine, Atelier: Red lentil fritter with duck, carrots, and beluga lentils

 

Steve Mitton, Murray Street: Lentil vegetarian shepherd’s pie

 

Chris Deraiche, The Wellington Gastropub: Stuffed and roasted saddle of rabbit, lentils braised with Beau’s Lugtread, pickled carrot, and mustard sauce

 

OUR VOTES:

PRETTIEST:
Atelier. Almost goes without saying. Chef Marc Lepine’s carrot rollercoaster frames a perfect lentil fritter and a little pool of lentils in their natural state, cooked in a mirepoix. The duck’s just a bonus. The combination of flavours? Sublime.

Atelier pairs lentils with a carrot roller coaster

Atelier pairs lentils with a carrot roller coaster

HOMIEST:
Murray Street. No surprise that variations of Chef Steve Mitton’s veg-herder’s pie are on permanent rotation on the menu. The lentil version sees them combined with ground mushrooms and quinoa for a truly brilliant texture.

Murray Street channels Grandma's kitchen

Murray Street channels Grandma’s kitchen

BEST WAY TO INTRODUCE RABBIT TO THE MENU:
The Wellington Gastropbub. Sure, it’s all about the lentils, but Chef Chris Deraiche has also used the opportunity to get locals to try the under-appreciated rabbit (he sold over 100 portions in the first 15 days of June), perching it atop a small hill of lentils braised with beer. In the process, he creates a classic gastropub dish that manages to be simultaneously high-brow and unsnobby.

The Wellington Gastropub shines the spotlight on rabbit

The Wellington Gastropub shines the spotlight on rabbit

BEST UNDERSTANDING OF THE “SPONGE EFFECT”:
Absinthe. Lentils are flavour sponges, soaking up the seasonings around them. Chef Patrick Garland takes full advantage, designing a divine Moroccan lentil hararira redolent with ginger, cinnamon, and turmeric.

Absinthe goes spicy with a Moroccan themed dish

Absinthe goes spicy with a Moroccan themed dish

 

But don’t take our word for it. Go try them for yourself and vote for your favourite!

**The Fundelentils tour is promoted by Canadian Lentils, a division of Saskatchewan Pulse Growers, a farmer-funded organization that works to advance the pulse industry in Saskatchewan. 

 

 

 

 

CITY BITES INSIDER: Marc Lepine dishes on his ambitious expansion of Atelier — and a new restaurant being planned for fall

By SARAH BROWN

Meet Marc Lepine. Renowned for his clever 12-course menus, the Atelier chef shot to national fame in 2012 when he won gold at the Canadian Culinary Championships, beating out top chefs from across the country for the crown. Since then, reservations at the tiny 22-seat Atelier have been hard to come by. That will change later this summer when Ottawa’s king of molecular gastronomy launches the newly-renovated Atelier, which has doubled in size. Also on Lepine’s current agenda — participation in a nationwide lentil competition and a second restaurant slated to open this fall.

Cut

A stylin’ Marc Lepine recently appeared in a series of Harry Rosen ads that promoted Canada’s top “masters of the grill” — and some of the store’s clothing lines. Matt Barnes for Harry Rosen

How long have you been planning the expansion of Atelier?
A long time! I originally chose the building [in 2008] because there was the option of expansion, so it was in the back of my mind from the start. But we’ve been hands-on planning for just over two years. The time was right to finally start.

What’s the timeline for the bigger, better Atelier?
We’ve got roughly a month or six weeks of finishing to do, so we’re hoping to open the expanded section in mid-August.

Tell me about the renovation.
We’ve done work on all three levels of the building. There’s a new dining area upstairs, which doubles our capacity to 45. We’re also expanding the kitchen, which is almost tripling in size. That’s great for me — and everyone around me.

Were you trying to achieve a certain look?
To be honest, I’m useless when it comes to that kind of thing. The focus of Atelier is obviously the food, so the design is refined. The colours are black and white to allow the food to “pop” in the room.

Was it fun working with the designers [Urbanomic Interiors]?
I just told them to do their thing! I didn’t have too many specifications beyond the budget. It’s like cooking — if you give someone creative free rein, they’re going to come up with something pretty special. I didn’t want to attach too many rules.

How will the expansion change business?
Really, it just lets us have more guests. But we may do some more group bookings. Maybe I’ll offer a shorter-style menu for a group looking to come in.

I’ve heard rumours that you’re still planning to open a second restaurant. Any truth to that?
Yes. It’s planned for later in the fall.

Anything more you can tell me?
It’s going to be weird and different! I don’t want to talk about it ahead of time — it would take a really long time to explain and I’d like people to try it out and then let them describe it.

Speaking of “different,” you’re one of four Ottawa chefs participating in the Canada-wide FUNdeLENTIL competition this month. How do you get to be on a lentil tour?
Yes, for the month of June I’m cooking with lentils every night [the other restaurants are Murray Street Kitchen, Absinthe, and The Wellington Gastropub]. Anita Stewart from Food Day Canada visited the four restaurants and presented us with this challenge to use Canadian lentils in a dish throughout June.

Did you work regularly with lentils before?
We have featured them lots of times in the past. For this dish we pair two kinds of lentils [red and beluga] with carrots and duck, among other things. It will be on the tasting menu for the month of June so people can try it and vote on their favourite recipe online.

Last question. I saw you recently in a Harry Rosen ad. Tell me about that.
It was a newspaper ad in The Globe and Mail. It ran for a day in May and also in the Harry Rosen catalogue.

How did that come about?
Harry Rosen did this style/chef series of portraits [called Masters of the Grill]. I knew the other four chefs so we had a good time. Ned Bell [Four Seasons Hotel in Vancouver], Antonio Park [Park Restaurant in Montreal], Duncan Ly [Raw Bar in Calgary], and Carl Heinrich [Richmond Station in Toronto]. Harry Rosen flew everyone in to Toronto for the night and then the shoot took 2 or 3 hours.

Are you comfortable with the “celebrity thing”?
I don’t really think of myself as a celebrity! But it’s great to get recognition in Ottawa. The city gets forgotten sometimes, I think.

 

DesBrisay Dines

DESBRISAY DINES: The Elmdale Oyster House & Tavern

BY ANNE DESBRISAY

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The Elmdale Oyster House & Tavern. Photo: Anne DesBrisay

Yes, indeed, there were grumblings.

In late 2012 when news broke that The Whalesbone Oyster House group had bought the 1934 Elmdale Tavern, the bah humbugs about further gentrification of the Hintonburg neighbourhood and the muzzling of live music were loud and clear.

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DesBrisay Dines

DESBRISAY DINES: Lunch at Mellos — still the same, but with better food

BY ANNE DESBRISAY

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Mellos’ Singapore Noodles with tofu — presented like the queen had ordered it. Photo: Anne DesBrisay

The last time I plopped down on a brown vinyl bench at Mellos it was for a Matthew Carmichael pop-up dinner. Before that, it was for bacon and eggs with some son-or-other’s soccer team — the full breakfast works, fabulously greasy, with a bottomless cup of thin black coffee, served with clucky no-nonsense charm by long time waitress (and manager) Leisa Bell (RIP).

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Mellos. Photo: Anne DesBrisay

That was ages ago — back when Mellos didn’t serve things like the thing I had for lunch: Singapore Noodles, with tofu, presented like the queen had ordered it. All arranged just so.

Wide rice noodles — still with bite — carrots, daikon, bok choy, cilantro in a coconut-galangal-lime leaf-lemongrass broth with some chilli spirit, logs of fried tofu laid on top with a wedge of lime for some extra zing.

Very nice. I read my book while I slurped and gave silent thanks for the eclectic face of the modern diner, still gnarly, still nostalgic, still serving all sorts, meeting all kinds of needs, but now with better food.

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Mellos. Photo: Anne DesBrisay

Mellos has always been and continues to be found at 290 Dalhousie Street. It’s open every day from 8am till 9pm, 10pm on Friday and Saturday nights. It has no website. 613-241-1909

CITY BITES INSIDER: Big Rig Brewery’s Lon Ladell set to wow Toronto connoisseurs at Session Toronto Craft Beer Festival 2015

BY SARAH BROWN

Meet Lon Ladell. He may just be the busiest brewmaster in town, overseeing the opening of Big Rig Brewery’s new restaurant in Gloucester and a second brewing facility in Kanata. But, more importantly, the beer! Always the beer. Ladell recently signed up for the annual “Collaboration Nation” competition at Toronto’s massive Session Craft Beer Festival (June 13). Big Rig has paired up with Exclaim! Magazine to create a signature brew that will compete against a dozen others from top Ontario brewers. The stakes are huge, with the winning collaboration scoring a coveted spot on LCBO shelves. Ottawa Magazine caught up with Ladell a few days before he headed to the festival.

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Lon Ladell, brewmaster for Ottawa’s Big Rig Brewery

Why are you so pumped to be collaborating with Exclaim! Magazine?
It means we get to work with people who have a different — and a bigger — reach than the craft breweries. They get to do something cool and interesting, and we get to learn some things from them and open up our beer to new people.

Why Exclaim! Magazine?
We knew we wanted to do Collaboration Nation at the Session Craft Beer Festival, so we started bouncing around ideas of who to work with. Exclaim! came up because music is a huge part of our culture at Big Rig. We’ve always got music cranked when we’re producing. We wanted to work with someone in that scene — someone who works with a diverse range of artists.

How did it come together?
The guys at Exclaim! were into it right away. We chatted with [Exclaim! publisher] Ian Danzig and came up with a loose concept. Then he and a couple of other guys — John Price and Roberto Granados-Ocan — came down from Toronto for the day to Big Rig. We brainstormed the recipe in the morning, then we got right into it — picking the grain, crushing it, and starting the brewing process.

Did the name influence the beer?
Totally! It’s called Exclaim!—An Imperial Beer. With a name like that, it had to be a really big IPA.

What’s it taste like?
It’s a blonde IPA and we added a specialized hop called Nelson Sauvin, which has a really grapy flavor note to it. That was our base. Then we played around with adding cold-steeped coffee from Engine House Coffee.

You added coffee?
It gives it a roasty character. In the end, it’s a really unique beer, but still accessible.

What happens if you win the collaboration competition?
I’m hoping I get a big, shiny medal! But seriously, the beer would get a listing at the LCBO, which would be amazing. It’s a very big prize. As more craft brewers enter the market, it’s harder and harder to get shelf space.

big rig 1

Who are you up against?
I haven’t really studied up on the competition, to be honest. I’m just looking forward to trying all these beers! We do know the only other Ottawa-area brewer in the competition is Beau’s [collaborating with hip hop artist k-os], but the rest of the breweries are Toronto-based.

 How much are you taking?
We’re taking 25 50-L tanks. There’s a big launch party on Thursday, June 11 with Exclaim! Magazine and then everyone at the Session Toronto Craft Beer Festival will be able to sample it on Saturday, June 13 at Yonge-Dundas Square.

So is this an opening foray into the Toronto market?
For sure we want to sell more beer in Toronto! This is an opportunity to say ‘Hey, check us out.’ We recently opened up our new production facility [in Kanata] so we’ve got capacity. We’ve obviously got a strong profile in the 613, so now we’re putting our minds to more promotional events beyond Ottawa to really get our name out there.

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Are you comfortable doing the promotional side?
I am. I love the “back of the house side,” which is the brewing, but I also have fun planning the events and looking at ways to make the business grow. I’m a Gemini so I can balance both sides!

You have two regular beers at the LCBO. What’s the latest?
Release the Hounds Black IPA was released in the second week of March. We put it in the 2014 Canadian Brewing Awards and it won the gold medal, which is pretty cool considering the quality of craft beer across Canada.

What’s on the agenda right now?
What’s not on the agenda! More beer soon! We just opened our second restaurant in the east end. We’re happily expanding. We already had the brewery on Iris Street and now we’ve opened a second facility [on Schneider Road in Kanata]. This lets us do the larger volumes at the new brewery and use the Iris Street brewery as a “test kitchen,” where we can play and create new, exciting beers.

People might not know they can stop by the Big Rig Brewery facility.
Definitely they can! We’re open 11am to 6pm on weekdays [and noon to 6pm on Saturday] and we have soup and sandwiches brought in from the restaurant on Iris. People can stop in, have some lunch, buy a glass of beer, maybe watch us can. We have new beers on tap all the time. And tours — you can sign up ahead for tours.

 

QUEST: No One Thinks Twice About Coriander Seed

BY CINDY DEACHMAN

This article was originally published in the May 2015 edition of
Ottawa Magazine

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Abate Pear Poached in Coriander and Earl Grey Syrup, Bittersweet Chocolate Sauce with Chilies and Cinnamon, Saffron Honey and Tangerine Ice Cream, Sesame/Coriander Tuile. Photo: PhotoluxStudio.com — Christian Lalonde

No one thinks twice about coriander.

Except for one Siberian nomad of the Pazyryk Valley whose grave, dating from the fourth or third century BCE, held a leather-and-leopard-fur pouch with copper birds sewn on, covered with gold leaf. In the bag were cultivated coriander seeds.

Why bury them?

Perhaps coriander fetched as high a price then as peppercorns did later for 15th-century Londoners. Since the Renaissance, coriander seed has transformed into the Cinderella of spices — at least in Europe and North America. But top billing still goes to chilies, cinnamon, or ginger.

Let’s change all that.


Abate Pear Poached in Coriander and Earl Grey Syrup, Bittersweet Chocolate Sauce with Chilies and Cinnamon, Saffron Honey and Tangerine Ice Cream, Sesame/Coriander Tuile

It starts with a pear. “I’m a fruit dessert kind of guy,” says Absinthe chef/owner Patrick Garland. Add chocolate sauce and ice cream, and it’s “The Threepenny Opera.” The dessert itself is Poire belle Hélène (originally inspired by Offenbach’s 1864 operatic heroine) “with an Indian romp on it,” says Garland. Coriander seeds are used in every part of the dish. The luxurious sweetness of the saffron-tangerine ice cream offsets bittersweet yet creamy chocolate, which is decorated with garam masala. Running down the sides of the poached pear: liquid gold. Really and truly. $9.
Absinthe, 1208 Wellington St. W., 613-761-1138

Ancho Espresso Short Ribs
A roaring fire, ribs on the spit. Campfire coffee all around, then some fool in a Stetson bursts into song with “Tumbling Tumbleweeds.” Epicuria’s short ribs are tender, meaty, deboned. The sauce is rich and exotic. Anchos are fruity, fairly mild, with only a little nip detected. Coriander, a vagabond in South America since 15th-century conquis-tadors set up shop, has been making its way north ever since. Here, the seed is toasted, ground, and added in a rub. Eat this succulent dish with johnnycake. $14.
Epicuria, 357 St. Laurent Blvd., 613-745-7356

Urad Dahl
Typically, tourists to India stop in Delhi only to transfer elsewhere. Not Ron Farmer. As co-owner of The Green Door Restaurant, he will go there to research dahl. Naturally, he’s dining at Shakahari — a 53-year-old restaurant within the 366-year-old walls of Old Delhi — which is famous for urad dahl, a tiny black lentil that, hulled and split, is creamy white. One of Farmer’s versions features garam masala, chilies, and the Indian spice asafoetida. Rounding out the whole dish? Coriander. $2.20/100 g.
The Green Door Restaurant, 198 Main St., 613-234-9697

DesBrisay Dines

DESBRISAY DINES: Share Freehouse

Anne DesBrisay is the restaurant critic for Ottawa Magazine. She has been writing about food and restaurants in Ottawa-Gatineau for 25 years and is the author of three bestselling books on dining out. She is head judge for Gold Medal Plates and a member of the judging panel at the Canadian Culinary Championships.

Share Freehouse. Photo by Anne DesBrisay

Share Freehouse. Photo by Anne DesBrisay

Share Freehouse opened two months ago in a space that’s seen its share of turnover.

Three-two-seven Somerset was the long-time second home of the long-running French restaurant Le Metro. Then of the excellent-but shuttered-in-a-hurry Benitz Bistro. There were other attempts to fill it, but most lately, it’s where 327 Wine Bar used to be.

Share is owned by the husband-and-wife team of Thomas and Maeve McVeigh.

In the kitchen is Danny Mongeon, formerly of the (now-former) Gatineau restaurant, Brut Cantina, and the Rideau Street restaurant Hooch Bourbon House. At least he was in the kitchen for my first two tastes. At my final visit, just as dessert arrived, I learned he had left. About a week ago, maybe two, our server said.

Good grief.

It explained a lot — the long wait for food and well-off-the-mark pacing (they were also down one server, leaving a single hard-working, admirably unflappable man to manage the room and patio). But here’s the thing: once the food did come, it was still very good, with Mongeon or without Mongeon.

Steak tartare. Photo by Anne DesBrisay

Steak tartare. Photo by Anne DesBrisay

At Share Freehouse, everything on the menu is up for sharing, from cheese and charcuterie to soup and salad, steak and pie. Over the years of sampling this direction in restaurants, I’ve decided sharing – with the exception of places like Table 40 with a family-style set menu — works better as a warm and fuzzy idea than it does in practical application. Sharing at a restaurant table is more natural with a life partner than with the boss. It suits twenty-six year old women more than it does sixty-two year old men. It’s easier to share a plate of cheese than a bowl of soup. And at most places with standard-sized tables, over-sized platters simply don’t fit well.

And then there’s the matter of sharing the bill. At Share Freehouse, the pricing is a bit confusing. The first price listed, closest to the dish description, is ‘For Two’. The next number is called ‘Plus One’. Single portions are available, though no price is given. So if you’re a table of six say, and three of you want to share the duck (For Two, add Plus One) and one wants a single sliders order (price of that is unclear, but turns out to be half of For Two, plus a few bucks) and all want Brussels sprouts (For Two, times 3?) how exactly that computes makes my head spin.

In fact, just seeing $32 next to ‘Cauliflower’ is a bit jarring. Granted, it’s supposed to be enough for two, but Share is asking for a serious leap of faith; it had better be the best damn platter of roasted cauliflower on the planet. Ditto for the investment in forty-two dollars worth of duck. What if it is overcooked?

In the end, we elected to share some starters and asked for individual mains and veg, which I noticed some tables around me were also doing.

But here’s the good news about the food: it’s really good. It started with a board of ‘Preserved and Cured’ — pungently smoked duck prosciutto, richly flavoured pots of duck rillette and Mariposa Farm pork creton, served with mustards, pickles and a sweet onion marmalade. House-made cranberry crisps were provided to ferry meat to mouth.

Charcuterie. Photo by Anne DesBrisay

Charcuterie. Photo by Anne DesBrisay

Then a beautifully balanced bison tartare. Beneath layers of crisped shallots and a rough chop of herbs was the puck of well seasoned, very lean raw meat, carefully cubed. Over this was a toupé of sunny yellow curls – grated, cured egg yolk, which added a salty, rich, eggy pop (and much more fun than parmesan). Boston lettuce leaves were provided for scooping.

A salad of ancient grains with puffed wild rice and beets was fresh, balanced, with yogurt lending a nice tang. The roasted cauliflower gratin ‘soubise’ (with a creamy onion sauce pooling beneath) came with steel cut oats, puffed wild rice, tart cranberries, and the same dill-parsley salad we had on the tartare.

Duck. Photo by Anne DesBrisay

Duck with wheat berries, mushrooms, sour cherries, and jus. Photo by Anne DesBrisay

 

Individual mains were an impeccably fresh and precise piece of trout and juicy slabs of ruby duck. The fish shared the plate with heirloom potatoes and fiddleheads; the duck with braised wheat berries, king eryngii mushrooms, pickled sour cherries, and a polished jus.

A dessert called lemon cherry curd arrived deconstructed on the plate — hunks of spongecake, a scoop of buttermilk ice cream, coral coloured blobs of lemon-cherry curd, dots of cherry coulis, and meringue in crisp, torn sheets. Very nice.

We didn’t try a cocktail — the bar was already taxed — but the bitters, cordials, syrups, and such are house made, and you’ll find quite the whiskey list here. There’s a good selection of craft beer, on tap and in bottles, and the wine list has enough variety to please, at prices that are neither kind nor overly unreasonable.

They were down the chef, a server, and a bartender on our final night, so service was a bit of a mess. Still, we ate well. If Share keeps that part working, perhaps the rest will follow.

Share Freehouse
327 Somerset St. W. 613-680-4000 sharefreehouse.ca
Daily from 4 p.m. to 2 a.m.

 

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CAPITAL PINT: The Ultimate Beer Run

This article was originally published in the May 2015 print edition of Ottawa Magazine

The region is frothing over with breweries. Jordan Duff sips his way through the city — and beyond — to gather all the info you need to map out a year’s worth of suds-driven tours

Kichesippi Beer Co. Photo by Sean Sisk

Kichesippi Beer Co. Photo by Sean Sisk

Just a few short years ago, Ottawa was home to a mere handful of breweries and brew pubs. Today we have more than two dozen, with still more on the horizon before the year is out. We’re living in the golden age, my friends! This is a fantastic time for craft beer nerds and casual beer fans alike. And if you can’t find a personal favourite brew at your regular watering hole, visit the source to stock up. Seeing the magic happen at the brewery and talking beer with the owners is always a good decision.

Beyond the Pale Brewing Co.       
Ottawa’s hippest brewery continues to churn out exciting experimental brews to complement their mainstays of Pink Fuzz, Rye Guy, and Darkness. I hope you’re thirsty, because their upcoming move to City Centre will include an increase in production from a 3½-barrel system to a 15-barrel system. Try it: If you’re lucky enough to visit the brewery when a barrel-aged treat is available, don’t hesitate! 5 Hamilton Ave. N., 613-695-2991. beyondthepale.ca.

Bicycle Craft Brewery  
Passionate owners Fariborz and Laura Behzadi are the creative force behind one of the city’s newest breweries, where they apply their combined skills of art and science to a wide variety of brews. Try it: Ask for Base Camp Oatmeal Porter if you’re wanting a medium-bodied dark delight — or be pleasantly surprised by their delicious one-offs. 850 Industrial Ave., 613-408-3326. bicyclecraftbrewery.ca.

Big Rig Brewery      
Big Rig has recently become Bigger Rig, with a second brew pub opening in the east end at Gloucester Centre and a Kanata production facility in the works. The latter will collaborate with other small local breweries to create some liquid gold. Try it: Keep your head up while shopping at the LCBO — their award-winning Black IPA will soon be available. 2750 Iris St., 1980 Ogilvie Rd., 103 Schneider Rd. bigrigbrew.com.

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