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Some capital dining to be had in Bytown


Richard Ouzounian
Toronto Star

OTTAWA–It wasn't many years ago that eating in our nation's capital was considered a penance rather a pleasure.

The assumption was that people were there to work, not play – and all food should be functional.

Mercifully, that has changed and this city's reputation as a fun place for a weekend getaway from Toronto is being helped by the restaurants available.


Domus, 87 Murray St. 613-241-6007: Start on a relaxing note with this charming place in the Byward Market dedicated to "Canadian regional seasonal cuisine."

That means what I savoured a few weeks ago might not be on the menu when you show up, but there's no doubt that it will be fresh, imaginative and well-served.

I enjoyed a Sweet-Corn Risotto with Canadian snow crab that was pure succulence and a Grilled Pork Tenderloin served with Chorizo sausage hash and Blackberry Apple Jelly that was filled with richly contrasting flavours.


The French Baker, 119 Murray St. 613-789-7941: Even if you're a relatively early riser, this place will welcome you at 7 a.m. with some of the best croissants available on this continent. Another advantage of a punctual arrival is that you are guaranteed a seat in this popular place. A bowl of their café au lait and one of their perfect almond croissants – so good, it would almost make you think of running for office so you could be there more often.


Metropolitan, 700 Sussex Dr. 613-562-1160: This wildly successful brasserie is fun at most hours of the day or night. Local politicos show up for the shellfish bar during "happy hour," sophisticates make it their late-night rendezvous, but you might enjoy it just as much for a weekend brunch, when their enormous menu includes an outstanding Breakfast Wrap and Stuffed French Toast, as well as impeccable oysters and delicious sandwiches (the cheeseburger with gruyere and caramelized onions is sheer bliss).


The Wellington Gastropub, 1325 Wellington Ave. 613-729-1315: There are three things to remember about this popular place, all related to the fact that it's a gastropub: The atmosphere is more about funky fun than elegant service; the food is absolutely excellent; and the menu changes so frequently that I'm almost afraid to tell you how much I enjoyed my Steak Tartare, Salmon with Potato Cheese Croquette or Chocolate Raspberry Ganache since they might not be available when you drop by.


Lansdowne Farmers' Market, Lansdowne Park, 1015 Bank St.: If you get to Ottawa before the end of October, this is a must to check out. You'll find homemade bakeries with great sourdough bread, Bearbrook Farms with a wonderful selection of fine wild charcuterie, places with crepes, game stews, fresh fruit and veggies. Take what you like and bring it into the central area to eat.


Wilfrid's, Chateau Laurier, 1 Rideau St. 613-241-1414: I always love to end the weekend at a grand old hotel that still knows how to present an awesome Sunday Brunch buffet. All the usual breakfast suspects are present, but offered with style and flair. There's an Eggs Benedict Station and those seeking more afternoonish food will enjoy the selection of snow crab legs or the hand-carved roast beef. A decadent selection of desserts (including a rich Black Forest Cake) will take care of any appetite you might have left.




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