Finding the Fine Dining in Downtown Ottawa
Not only have we loved visiting Canada's charming capital, but sampling its fine Ottawa Restaurants has always been a treat. A quick trip downtown puts one at the doorsteps of some incredible eating establishments. Our first venture began on Nepean Street at Beckta Dining and Wine. Chef Moffatt has the ability to take the most high quality, Canadian-grown foods and combine them in extraordinary ways. Considering myself pretty cosmopolitan, I found it humbling to realize how limited some of my dining expectations had been, to this point. This rather unpretentious converted home welcomed us in to learn a few things about the art of blending food flavours.
Lesson one began with the environment itself. I saw people in jeans enjoying themselves as much as the cocktail crowd in the corner. There seemed to be no status expectations or concern about an appropriate dress code. I breathed a sigh of relief. Dressing up is fine, but not necessary here. Got it. Lesson two was about the food. Local ingredients that could seem common were uncommonly prepared. I love Nova Scotia lobster, but had no idea how excellent it could be when mixed in a salad with lemon grass, fried shallots, avocado, and scallion-caviar aioli. Who would have thought? My husband immersed himself in the roasted rabbit roulade with Dijon-caper berry sauce, groaning with pleasure from time to time. I was told that if you were really adventurous, Chef Moffatt has created a special five course tasting menu. Maybe next time.
Since we had found one treasure on Nepean Street, we decided to take another evening to return for more excellent food-hunting. Our next target, also on Nepean Street, was A'roma Meze. For newcomers, "meze" refers to the small plates offered with alcohol. A'roma had dozens of choices to pick from. Home-made warm pita bread and garlicky dips were made for each other. I loved the Greek poutine: Yukon french fries dripping with Kefalotiri cheese. I wanted to lick my plate. Seriously! The spicy Greek sausage and moussaka were to die for.
Our very skilled waiter helped us through our choices, making suggestions as we went. When it was obvious we were running out of room for more meze, he served us smaller portions. I was impressed that gluten-free dishes were clearly marked, a rather thoughtful touch I have not often seen. Sharing platters of excellent cuisine felt homey and fun, and the conversation, when our mouths weren't being stuffed, was casual and comfortable. What an enjoyable evening we three couples shared at A'roma. Though a bit on the pricey side, this restaurant provided a wonderful Greek dining experience that I would gladly repeat.