Feb 9, 2014
First night out on the Wellington/Westboro Restaurant Exploration.
After spending a couple of hours perusing Yelp and Urban Spoon, Pierre had compiled a list of more than a hundred possible three-star-and-up dining spots. Mapping the first 25 dinner houses, we scrapped our idea of one-from-one-end, then one-from-the-other, and instead decided to consult our taste buds.
Our first choice: Naked Fish, a simple-sounding sushi house with an alluring name. Walking in the glass front door just before 8pm, we saw the two staff members sweeping up the snow-salty floor, and learned that they closed at 8 on Sundays. We were welcome to take home one of the last remaining Bento boxes, but the feeling I got in their austere, spray-it-clean atmosphere was fast-food, and Pierre’s blood sugar was nearing the red, so we passed. Life is too short to eat less-than-top-quality sushi. And, risking it could make life even shorter!
Back out on the icy-cold sidewalk, we turned left and then took an immediate left into another restaurant on our list: The Corner Bar and Grill... which is located, ironically, mid-block. Ottawa is peppered with pubs and sports bars, which, honestly, can get a little old. We’d deleted a number of them, but because of its rating, The Corner remained, and we’re glad it did.
|The Corner Bar & Grill - 344 Richmond Rd, Ottawa - one of three locations|
Surrounded by soft fawn walls, not-too-loud music, and a multitude of TV screens, we had our choice of viewing the Olympics or -- you guessed it -- the Olympics, all of which were blissfully set to silent. Neither of us are big television fans, but we do sometimes enjoy watching sports. Pierre was a ski-jumper in his youth, so is especially keen on the fast winter games. We hit the jackpot: downhill skiing and speed skating was on, and the Canadians excelled!
It was a quiet night, so we shared the pub with around 20 other patrons. The bartender came out to wait on us with a warm welcome, impeccable timing, and a friendly attitude. The Corner is known for its extensive menu of local-ish brews, with three craft beers featured each day. Mine was delicious: Beyond the Pale’s “Pink Fuzz,” a grapefruit wheaten beer made right here in Ottawa. I’ve had many fruit-infused beers, and prefer a lemon- or lime- to a sweet orange-squeeze (which is more commonly served here), but this was my first beer made with grapefruit. I’ve added a trip to Beyond the Pale’s brewery to our list. Pierre chose a more commonly available Toronto beer, Mill Street’s “Tankhouse Ale”: a lovely, copper-coloured, spicy ale that he enjoyed. And even though I’m not a big hoppy-beer fan, I gave a thumbs-up to my sip. Not being a lover of the grapefruit, Pierre declined a taste of mine.
My standard pub fare is wings. Having been introduced to the real thing: Buffalo wings in Buffalo, NY (thank you, wasbundy!), I’m always on the lookout for excellent ones. The Corner’s Twice Cooked Chicken Wings (fried then baked) were some of the closest I’ve had to those across the border! The first plus was hearing that they were non-breaded (a must since I truly dislike that extra layer of flour and deep-fried fat.) Because it was slow, our server was willing to put in an order of half Cajun Dusted [a southern-style dry rub] and half Frank’s Red Hot [which was not too-hot, but oh-so-authentically-tasty]. Their dipping sauce was a blend of ranch and blue cheese, though finding the blue flavour was a challenge. That tiny detail was tad disappointing, but it was yummy nonetheless. The plate came with only one perfectly-fresh carrot- and celery stick; however, when requested, our server happily delivered more.
Pierre steered away from his normal pub burger to choose a Canadian pizza, made with molasses and black pepper bacon (which nearly made him choose something else: “Molasses on pizza? Ick.”) Mushrooms, pepperoni, traditional pizza sauce and mozza rounded out the pie. The crust was thin, just as we like it, and the oddly-cured bacon was quite tasty. He had the kitchen include his usual green pepper addition, so smiled throughout the meal... especially as his blood sugar began to rise.
Next stop: our gourmet dinner two days after Valentine’s Day: the next evening that was free.