Articles Tagged ‘New Edinburgh’

DESBRISAY DINES: The Beechwood Gastropub

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.

Is a gastropub as straightforward as a nice looking bar with a kitchen that puts out tuna crudo instead of a chicken wings? Must it serve upscale British pub food in order to call itself a gastropub? Or is it just a name for anything goes in the kitchen? No limiting culinary theme: calamari, pierogis, hamachi, lamb bhoona, burgers, bouillabaisse — it all works!

Or doesn’t. In which case, the place may aspire to gastropub-ness, but if it isn’t ticking the right boxes — a convivial atmosphere, an excellent drinks list, solidly good food — it is a gastropub in surname only.

This one, the Beechwood, in the space where Farbs Kitchen used to be, is on its way to deserving the title. It hasn’t all been rosy on my visits — one meal had some hiccups, the welcome can seem muted, and one more warm body on the floor would help service flow — but the space is busy and jolly, there’s craft beer on tap, the wine list has been thoughtfully assembled, and the kitchen — led by chef Colin Lockett — puts up plates that mostly please.

Hot smoked salmon with kimchi. Photo by Anne DesBrisay

Hot smoked salmon with kimchi. Photo by Anne DesBrisay

I provided a glimpse of the new Beechwood Gastropub in a lunch pick in December. I also promised a more detailed look, so this is that.

The Beechwood Gastropub is owned by André Cloutier (formerly of Arturo’s on Beechwood, and now owner of the long running Iberian restaurant, El Meson, also on Beechwood). He seems fond of the street and diners seem fond of him. The place has been packed at my every visit.

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DESBRISAY DINES: Lunch at Beechwood Gastropub

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.


Photo by Anne DesBrisay

Gnocchi with kale and parmesan. Photo by Anne DesBrisay

Two forks up for two lunch dishes at the new Beechwood Gastropub. I plan to do a proper review of the place in due course, but this first sortie was encouraging. It was a Friday, which might explain the crowd, but the place was packed and the feeling merry.

The look hasn’t changed much since it was Farb’s Kitchen, other than a wall that’s been boarded up with ye-ole barn beams, and a brush that’s coated another wall with teal.

Two dishes to praise: a comfort sandwich, well executed, and a yummy bowl of gnocchi. The Cubana — a classic sandwich, reworked — was a ciabatta loaf sliced and stuffed with fine ham and a slice of melty Jacobsons cheddar, but also with thin slices of the house porchetta, the right amount of fat drooping out, and a smear of a crunchy pickle-mustard that delivered excellent smack. It came with fine fries, an aioli for dunking,  and a little salad dressed with a (too-sweet … for me) tarragon vinaigrette. 

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URBAN STUDY: An ideal urban space in Lindenlea

This article first appeared in the September issue of Ottawa Magazine. Sign up for a subscription or order back issues here.

The core is in the midst of a dramatic renewal as Ottawa transforms from big town to small city. 
Ottawa Magazine visits the people who are flourishing in revitalized downtown neighbourhoods


They met while living in neighbouring apartments in the ByWard Market. Both loved the urban lifestyle; both were determined to minimize their dependence on cars. Nine years ago, when Julia Leonard and Tom Megginson began looking for a larger space to accommodate their family of three, they discovered what Tom describes as “the ideal urban neighbourhood.” Lindenlea is a leafy enclave tucked away between Rockcliffe Park (to the north and east), Vanier (to the south), and New Edinburgh (to the west).

Photo by Justin Van Leeuwen.

The red-brick semi boasts a cozy front porch. The couple spends many summer evenings here, having a glass of wine and connecting with neighbours who wander past. Photo by Justin Van Leeuwen.


Here, front porches and modest lots encourage interaction among residents. “You want to like your neighbours,” says Tom, “because they’re right there with you.” Indeed, in 2011 when Julia and Tom renovated their shared back deck (they live in a semi-detached house), they shared costs with their neighbour and opted to leave the entire space open so that the families could mingle between sides.

Photo by Justin Van Leeuwen.

When they built the deck in 2011, Julia and Tom shared the costs with their neighbours. The adjoining decks were purposely left open to one another, allowing for more space — and mingling. Photo by Justin Van Leeuwen.


Names: Julia Leonard and Tom Megginson (plus Jack, 9)

Occupations: Julia is a teacher at Elgin Street Public School; Tom is creative director at Acart Communications

Home: Semi-detached red brick, circa 1927

Neighbourhood: Lindenlea

Previous home: The couple met while living in the ByWard Market in neighbouring apartments

Urban-living quote:

Tom: Not being car-dependent is huge to us. We can both walk to work, and we can walk downtown. We love the idea of everything we need being in walkable distance.

What drew you to this neighbourhood?
We were determined to live in the downtown area, so we drew a circle around ByWard Market to determine how far south, west, and east we were willing to go. We wanted to be able to walk or bus to work in Centretown. We didn’t think we could afford this neighbourhood, but we got lucky. It was winter, and the garden wasn’t looked after at all, so the house was, in a sense, discounted.

Julia: I knew the neighbourhood well because I used to be a substitute teacher so got to see lots of areas of the city.

What other neighbourhoods were you eyeing?
This was the fourth house we bid on. We had already bid on houses in Centretown, the Glebe, and the Market.

Why this house?
I like older houses. I grew up in the older suburbs of Kingston, but a lot of my friends lived in century homes downtown. They had hardwood floors and bookshelves and Persian rugs. I loved that look, and this house has that feeling. I appreciate its character.

Julia: We were looking for a house in which we could stay forever. This is that house, so we’ve renovated as we can.

Photo by Justin Van Leeuwen

Julia and Tom both wanted an older house with character, saying they always imagined hardwood floors and rooms that were compatible with Persian rugs and antiques. Photo by Justin Van Leeuwen

Favourite features?
All the new parts. We collaborated with Emma Doucet to renovate the kitchen and bathroom last fall. Three years ago we renovated the back deck. It’s up high, so we can have a carport underneath. Our front and back decks are like having two outdoor rooms.

High above the yard, Tom says the back deck “makes us feel as if we’re in a tree house.” There is space underneath to park their car. Photo by Justin Van Leeuwen

High above the yard, Tom says the back deck “makes us feel as if we’re in a tree house.” There is space underneath to park their car. Photo by Justin Van Leeuwen

Julia: Sitting on the front deck is how we got to know all our neighbours.

Tom: Everyone is social because they hang out in the front. It’s a chance to stop, have a glass of wine, and talk. 

Least favourite?
The basement bathroom is like a museum from the 1980s.

Julia: The bedrooms are pretty small, but it is what it is.

Biggest challenges to living in this neighbourhood?
Street parking can be an issue when friends come to visit. Crime is a concern, but the benefit of living one on top of another is that neighbours look out for each other.

Biggest benefits?
Not being car-dependent is huge to us. We can both walk to work, and we can walk downtown. We love the idea of everything we need being walkable distance.

How long do you plan to stay?
We plan to be here forever. 

Advice to wannabe urban dwellers?
You have to be comfortable with a smaller house than you’d get in the suburbs.

Tom: You can’t be bothered by noise. We have always preferred the downtown lifestyle, but you have to know what you’re getting into. And if you’re looking at buying an older home, get a good home inspector — there are so many things to find.

Photo by Justin Van Leeuwen

The owners collaborated with Emma Doucet of Grassroots Design to renovate and update the kitchen while preserving the character of the 1920s home. Photo by Justin Van Leeuwen



GREAT SPACE: The spectacular reinvention of a 1920s-era former butcher shop in New Edinburgh

Originally built in the 1920s as a butcher shop, the squat New Edinburgh dwelling, which for years had been divided into apartments, was in serious need of an upgrade. That’s when owner Shalindhi Perera teamed up with architect Andrew Reeves for a full-scale reno that honours the building’s heritage 

By Sarah Brown; Photography by DoubleSpace Photography

It was 1988 when Shalindhi Perera’s mother, Ranji, first set eyes on the quirky little duplex for sale in New Edinburgh. She was looking for an investment property, and her daughter was looking for a place to live. It certainly wasn’t much to look at — squat and a bit tired-looking from the outside, dark and cave-like on the inside. A former butcher shop, the building had been renovated on the fly over the years and was now a mishmash of styles and small rooms.

STREET VIEW: A view from the street of the square building that was once a butcher shop. The owner and architect agreed that they wanted a modern renovation but were equally dedicated to a reinvention that would not make waves with the neighbours. Photography by Doublespace Photography


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COMEDIC TIMING: Linden House’s Janet Uren talks about this year’s theatre production and what it takes to succeed

Linden House is growing up. Over the past six years, it has been lovingly nurtured, developing from one woman’s brainchild into a mature theatre company with a production team of 10. Ottawa Magazine’s Emma Paling caught up with mother-of-the-operation Janet Uren ahead of this year’s production, George Bernard Shaw’s You Never Can Tell.

You Never Can Tell runs Oct. 23 to 27, 28, 31, and Nov. 1 to 3. $25. Elmwood Theatre, 261 Buena Vista Rd., 613-842-4913,

Janet Uren is an "advanced" woman, while Danny McLeod is an impoverished dentist who has the bad luck to fall in love with her daughter in the October production of "You Never Can Tell" by George Bernard Shaw. Photo by Mike Heffernan.

Why did you start Linden House?
The most important reason was that an opportunity arose to perform on a stage — community, and even professional, theatre in Ottawa faces a shortage of stages.

I’m an alumna of Elmwood School, and they have a lovely auditorium and stage [that we could use], so I had a venue. I’d also encountered George Stonyk while working on another production, and he became our director, while I covered the business side and acted in the productions.

Another reason for starting Linden House is that I had a yen to do a particular type of comedy — the comedy of wit, an intelligent kind of humour. That tends to be British — American and Canadian humour is usually different.

How do you choose which plays to produce?
It’s agonizing! George and I both read plays and submit them to each other as possibilities. Then we blow each other out of the water and start again. We do just one play each season, though this year we also did a one-night reading in September. We don’t look for just a good play, but for a play with roles suited to the actors we have in our circle from Ottawa’s theatre community. We look for plays that are interesting, but also happy. It’s a difficult process that takes a long time. It’s a bit frightening too, because a good play is the first ingredient to success.

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20 Best Neighbourhoods: Appealing to the DINKs

Best Neighbourhoods: DINKs

ByWard Market: If you dream of living in a city that never sleeps, this is as close as you’ll get in O-town

DINKs were possibly the hardest group to classify. For every couple sans kids that fits the yuppie paradigm — lattes, yoga, art galleries, and posh restaurants — there are countless others who would rather be hiking, woodworking, or watching the complete works of Jim Carrey on DVD than at the symphony. For the purposes of this article, I focused on central neighbourhoods where DINKs’ extra disposable income could buy easy access to urban pleasures — even if they rarely take advantage of them.

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HOMES: A New Edinburgh gem throws open its doors for a historic house tour

A fine old New Edinburgh house throws open its doors on June 11 to help mark two historic anniversaries in Ottawa history

Front hall and living area of Henrietta Southam's New Edinburgh house

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GARDENS: Get inspired! Four great New Edinburgh gardens to study

Hattie Klotz creates her own mini garden tour of New Edinburgh, discovering four striking front gardens, knocking on the door, and interviewing the homeowners to discover the inspiration behind their great green spaces

Take a tour of the gardens »

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REASON TO LOVE OTTAWA #1: Because only an Ottawa native could love New Edinburgh for being gritty

Because only an Ottawa native could love New Edinburgh for being gritty.

Although I grew up in Manor Park, I’ve always loved New Edinburgh. It seemed urban, almost gritty in comparison. The houses — as mismatched as laundry hanging from a back-alley lane — are all scrunched together, giving the neighbourhood an authentic, unplanned feeling. It wasn’t developed in an architect’s office, but was built from the ground up, by emergent necessity. It’s an old area, one where fussy heritage types seeking to preserve each house and the eccentric accretions they’ve accumulated through ages of do-it-yourself homeownership blossom amid a scattering of itinerant renters.

The houses, like those who live inside them, are imperfect and have the tendency to shape the lives within, rather than the other way around. Unlike Rockcliffe, where you can build a glittering palace to your vanity, you can’t always get exactly what you want in New Edinburgh, but sometimes have to live without a garage. You’re still rich, of course, but you get to have an everyday complaint or two so that you can feel connected when you head down to Beechwood, the main artery that serves as the de facto line between Vanier and not Vanier.

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WEEKLY LUNCH PICK: thin-crust pizza with the works at Zazaza

The Place: All the recent buzz surrounding Hintonburg’s new pizza joint got me thinking about where else we might find a fine thin-crust pie. It’s a quest that took me to New Edinburgh and the nearly one-year-old ZaZaZa. It’s the latest food business to incubate in the quirky corner shack that was home to the original Fraser Café as well as the first location of The Works Gourmet Burger Bistro. There, Ion Aimers, the founder of said burger empire (which he sold last September for a reported $10 million) has created an off-beat pizza joint that — quelle surprise! — focuses on one item capped with a cavalcade of toppings.

The Deal: With its avant-garde approach to pizza adornment, ZaZaZa sets itself apart from both the traditional Ottawa-style and the nouveau Neapolitan-inspired pizzerias.

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