Articles Tagged ‘Byward Market’

SHOP TALK: American Girl Boutique opens in Rideau Chapters

Shop Talk is written by Ottawa Magazine editor Dayanti Karunaratne and Sarah Fischer, Ottawa Magazine account executive and fashion maven.

Do you have a young girl in your life that likes dolls? If you do, you have likely already heard that America Girl is coming to Ottawa. Not to be confused with the CanCon-approved Maplelea Girls, American Girl dolls are the biggest thing to hit the doll scene since Cabbage Patch Kids. I’ve heard the excitement at stores in New York City rivals Black Friday madness.

So will Ottawans latch on the idea of dressing up like your doll, booking salon services for your mini-me, and otherwise taking society’s fascination with dolls to the next level? Only time will tell. The store opens on Saturday, October 11.

In this edition of SHOP TALK, OM editor Dayanti Karunaratne explores the culture surrounding American Girl — and gets some tips on getting her own 2-year-old into independent play — through a Q&A with Lesley Nightingale, VP IndigoKids and a spokesperson for American Girl.

American Girls are coming to Ottawa!

American Girls are coming to Ottawa!


What makes American Girl dolls different from other dolls?
The American Girl brand is about a commitment to empower and inspire. The name was derived from the brand’s flagship line of historical dolls introduced nearly 30 years ago; today the brand has expanded into numerous product lines that reflect and celebrate the interests, achievements, and activities of all girls. American Girl is a perfect fit with Indigo — we’ve sold their kid’s books for years, our relationship was built on storytelling, and we’re proud to be their exclusive retailer as we bring the much sought after brand to Canada. — Lesley Nightingale, VP IndigoKids

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QUEST: Best bets for milkshakes and other cool sips


I scream for ice cream — and hot summer days do too, dontcha know. Hike it up a notch with luscious ice cream drinks: bring on the ice cream sodas, smoothies, shakes, and malted milks. Anything goes! Start with your favourite frozen dessert. The classics, for instance — vanilla, chocolate, or strawberry ice cream. Then there’s nougat, peppermint, or peanut butter cup gelato. How about black cherry or sorrel sorbet? (Don’t exclude granitas, ices, frozen yogourt, frozen custard, or the Arab agraz, either, all of which come in innumerable flavours.) Now combine in one way or another with milk, Orange Crush, blueberry green tea smoothie, or mojito with fresh mint and lime. Imagination? You got it!


Zak’s Milkshake. Photo by Christian Lalonde – Photolux Studio.


Root Beer Float>>
The ice cream float was invented more than 130 years ago in the United States, likely for outstripping the soda fountain competition. At Zak’s, a 1950s-style diner in the ByWard Market, the classic can be had — root beer with vanilla ice cream, topped perfectly with a maraschino cherry. There’s something so satisfying about ice cream melting into the root beer fizz. Of course, you can order other pop too — orange Fanta and cream soda are popular. Ice creams include chocolate and strawberry. $5.49. Zak’s Diner14 ByWard Market Sq., 613-241-2401.

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DESBRISAY DINES: Introducing Fiazza Fresh Fired


Photo by Anne DesBrisay

A few weeks back I had come to the ByWard Market with my son to pay our respects to Domus Café. He had celebrated a thirteenth birthday there, along with another family feast to mark a university graduation. We noted the massive ‘For Lease’ sign, and we shook our heads and we sighed. We cupped our hands around our eyes and peered through the windows into the empty space. Then we smelled pizza — and I spied a face that was familiar to me, delivering the pizza to an outdoor table. So we crossed the street.

The last time I saw Luigi he was handing me a rabbit. A very nice stew, as I recall. I still have the 2003 review of the dish. That was at (the late) Zibibbo Restaurant on Somerset Street, owned by Luigi Meliambro.

I liked the short-lived Zibibbo; I liked its second floor lounge (TheCamarilloBrilloUpstairs) but the place closed ten years ago, and Luigi moved on. To Kanata, I believe. And then across the river. Friends in Chelsea and Wakefield were Friday night regulars at his pizza joint, Cheezy Luigi’s, though I’d never had the pleasure.

Photo by Anne DesBrisay

Photo by Anne DesBrisay

Meliambro has moved back to Ottawa now, and has a new venture. Pizza, fired in one of those crazy-hot ovens in something like 140 seconds. The pies are created to order, assembly line style (a la Subway) while you wait. Fiazza Fresh Fired is found on Murray Street in the spot where Pecco’s bike shop used to be.

It works like this: you queue up, read a lot, and hem and haw while the kids in their Fiazza Fresh Fired T’s and food service gloves wait patiently for instructions. You may order one of the dozen suggested combinations, or you create your own based on a lengthy list of toppings. There are two bases — regular and gluten free. The sauce, we are told, is made with (the lionized) San Marzano tomatoes. There are seven cheese options, including blue, feta, goat cheese, fior di latte, or the house blend. All cheeses, we are told, are locally sourced. Toppings come in two categories — the traditional (mostly vegetable, at $1.25 each) and specialty (mostly meat, along with organic mushrooms). The “After Fired” options — fresh basil, chilli flakes, oregano, evoo drizzle — are on the house. Once you’ve placed your order, you can watch them load it on and fire it up, or sit down and have it delivered.

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MOST WANTED: The Ottawa Fluevog

Photo by Luther Caverly

The Ottawa Fluevog. Photo by Luther Caverly

When celebrated Canadian shoe designer John Fluevog opens his first boutique in the national capital, one style is sure to sell out fast. The Ottawa shoe (above) is sensible and sophisticated, with an ankle strap and a short heel. Only 30 pairs will be made — and they’re available only in the new ByWard Market store at William and George streets. And to make the scramble just a little nuttier, that store opens its doors on Canada Day. Serious shoe lovers and city devotees, mark your calendars.

$270. 61 William St.


SHOP TALK: Profiling two sets of crafty duos — with retail stores in ByWard Market and Almonte

Shop Talk is written by OM senior editor Dayanti Karunaratne and Sarah Fischer, OM account executive and fashion maven.

At SHOP TALK, we’re always keeping an eye out for beautiful things — all the better if said products are made locally and support the chasing of a creative dream.

Sometimes this means connecting with vendors at craft sales; other times, it means watching the changing ownership of retail real estate. Lately, we’ve been seeing these two aspects come together as local crafters put down stakes and open their doors at permanent retail locations.

The Tin Barn Market during one of its pop-up shops last year. Desa Photography.

Later this month (March 16 to be specific), Tin Barn Market will open its doors in Almonte. As the name suggests, the store started out in 2011 as a flea market in a tin barn.

It was the brain child of Errin Stone, whose career in retail communications included a vision for her own smaller, independent shop featuring re-used and re-purposed goods.

It soon garnered the attention of Vicki Veenstra, a local set designer and artist who herself harboured a certain “store fantasy.” The two quickly became partners, hosting three pop-up shops before eventually deciding to set up a permanent store. The Almonte location was a given, as both reside in the area and the town itself has a youthful, creative energy.

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WEEKLY LUNCH PICK: For ByWard Market dwellers, the ‘Lunch Box’ at Social

The Lunch Box: On this day, a fine pea soup, an open-faced spicy beef sandwich, and a small green salad

Blessed with great bones, handsome lines and a very fine address, Social has been fitting the bill for many occasions for over a decade.

But it can be unpredictable — under-performing one meal, one month, and then razzle dazzling another. That’s its little issue, its capriciousness, and one that — notwithstanding its bones and lines and very fine address — tends to keep it off the list of the city’s finest.

I tend to like Social for lunch. You often bump into a parliamentarian in a back booth hunched over papers. And when the winter sun is out full blast, a table by the tall tall windows can be a pretty swell place to bask.

I’m here to check Social’s new-to-me ‘Lunch Box’ — soup, salad, and the sandwich of the day.

It took 40 minutes to arrive — the server was working alone, her colleague ill, the room busy, one table of four men all ordering cappuccinos, damn them. When the Lunch Box did show up, though, it was really very nice: a fine pea soup with a bit of creamy finish, an open faced spicy beef sandwich, the meat slow cooked and tender, a small green salad. It didn’t rock my world, but it was tasty enough and for the price, was a solid deal.

Cost: $14.

Social, 537 Sussex Dr., 613-789-7355.

WEEKLY LUNCH PICK: The Courtyard Restaurant serves up fish and chips. Who knew?

Catch of the day: Anne DesBrisay waxes poetic over The Courtyard Resto's fish and chips, describing a beer batter that crunches, crackles, and oozes — in a good way

Here’s the question for all you competent cooks out there: hands up which of you makes fish and chips at home?  Exactly. Of course you don’t.

It’s dangerous work, messy to clean up if executed stovetop, and a pain to push aside the fondue sets and pasta machine to haul out the deep fat fryer from the back of the lowest cupboard.

Much more sensible to go out.

And many do: every faithful Friday to the local pub or fish market café for a basket of fish and chips (in my case, the Whalesbone Sammich is often the fish of choice). But who thinks to head to The Courtyard Restaurant when craving a chipper?

Not I. Until last Friday. But newish executive chef Murray Wilson is a Brit, you see — he took over the top toque job when Michael Hay moved to Back Lane Café — and alongside his lunch menu of mostly posh things like wild mushroom risotto with truffle oil and pan seared steelhead trout bathed in beurre blanc, there is the entry “English fish ‘n chips”. Other than the fact it costs $16, it is properly old school.

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THE INSIDER: Renée Lévesque closes two Ottawa locations in advance of new, larger lifestyle boutique

Shop Talk is written by OM senior editor Dayanti Karunaratne and Sarah Fischer, OM account executive and fashion maven.

Choker with amber pendant, Renée Lévesque, $159. Ann dress, $238, from BCBGMaxazria, Rideau Centre, 50 Rideau St.,

Over the holidays, we noticed the tell-tale paper covering the windows at the Renée Lévesque store on Wellington. The shop, the jeweller’s second location, only opened a few years ago, could it be she was pulling the plug already? Upon further investigation, we learnt that her downtown store had also closed; only her Montreal boutique remained.

We have adored her elaborate accessories for years, enjoyed her careful eye for clothing (she began selling cute, affordable dresses and shoes in 2009), and always appreciated her fun, helpful staff. And we lauded her as one of Ottawa’s best jewellery designers in a fashion feature less than a year ago. We began to fear that another independent retailer had given up on little Ottawa.

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WEEKLY LUNCH PICK: Warm up with seafood laksa at Sidedoor

Comfort in a bowl: Though it was more a shrimp soup than the promised seafood, DesBrisay enjoyed Sidedoor's seafood laksa, complimenting the chef on the ccomfortingly complex flavour of the coconut broth.

By Anne DesBrisay

I had been meaning to check out Sidedoor’s new lunch service for some time now. Particularly since it is no longer new. But when it first opened for the noon crowd, last December, it was big news for a little time, and it reminded me of memorable lunches at its big brother restaurant, just around the corner.

Restaurant E18hteen used to be my go-to for out of town guests in need of a satisfying lunch in a signature setting. The food (then orchestrated by chef Matthew Carmichael) was of a very high quality, the service was impeccable and the place simply gorgeous.

But E18hteen stopped its noon service a few years ago because nobody came. I think nobody came because lunch was pretty expensive and $$$$ lunches in a government town sobered with austerity were a thing of the past.

These days, the reliably-good downtown restaurants busy at noon tend to offer weekday specials, designed to get you in and out, well fed, and for not much. (Play Food & Wine’s any-two-small-plates-for-twenty-bucks formula comes to mind.)

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WEEKLY LUNCH PICK: Mexican tortilla soup at the Market’s new taqueria, Corazon de Maiz

It looks like a bad hair day but it tastes like a party in a bowl — warm and crunchy; creamy and cool.

By Shawna Wagman

Who would’ve thought it would still be soup weather in June? But with all of these cool, damp days, I can think of nothing better than a bowl of Mexican tortilla soup. In fact, this soup is so sunny and festive to look at and fun and interesting to eat, it might be considered in lieu of prescription mood enhancers. It is also like tuning into the “greatest hits” of Mexican cooking: there’s a bit of everything in there.

The base begins as a light chicken and tomato stock enhanced with smoky chipotle peppers and a popular Mexican herb called epazote. Assembled to order, you’ll find a generous amount of full-flavour diced white chicken within — enough to call this a complete meal (though it’s intended as a starter). The meat has been marinated with rosemary, basil, lemon, and mango juices along with various seasonings and spices.

The soup is then adorned with long crispy fried strips of corn tortilla that poke out in every direction from the hot broth like a bad hair day. Next, it gets a dollop of queso fresco (like a mild feta), a squirt of homemade crema (similar to sour cream), some diced ripe avocado, and the relatively mild pasilla pepper as a final garnish. Eating the soup becomes an interactive spoon sport. The rules and the texture change as the chips soften and thicken the soup. The chiles work their magic and the flavours marry as the cheese and cream add richness to the broth.

Mariana Torio (the chef) and Erick Igari, a couple from Mexico City, run the tiny taqueria that popped up in the Byward Market building about seven months ago. They give the bustling food counter a dose of warmth and character in spite of its steam tray table of taco fillings and tourist-trap surroundings. The brightly coloured table cloths and bar stools add lots of sunny appeal as well.

Tacos seems to be the food darling of the moment, but I’d advocate for a tortilla soup takeover!

Cost: $4 plus tax

Corazon de Maiz, 55 By Ward Market, 613-244-1661.