A summary of recent IMAGE restaurant reviews and food features, plus other advice from our contributors about where to find great food in and around Sandy Hill.
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Cadena Spanish Cafe
323 Somerset St. East
Cadena seems to be settling in nicely, with a varied clientele of students, young mums and lunching ladies the last time we were there. Along with its interesting menu of sandwiches, tacos and Spanish omelette, Cadena has recently begun offering all-day breakfasts. Huevos rancheros were served on a generous bed of refried beans with a splash of hot sauce, a zesty dusting of cheese, and three warm tortillas on the side; a meal that kept me going for the rest of the day, after my companion and I had split a delicious rum ball and a cup of frothy latte.
10 Daly Ave.
The restaurant in the Ottawa Art gallery is developing its persona more fully all the time. The attractive space is now divided in two by a planter, separating the rather luxe space at the front with its jazzy seating, beautiful bar and big windows from the more casual café space near the coffee counter, where it’s still possible to linger with your computer over an espresso with a sandwich or a pastry. In the restaurant proper, small plates make for an interesting and enjoyable, if slightly splurgy, meal or light snack. The dishes with their elaborate lists of ingredients (e.g. smoked tofu with piri piri, lemon, broccolini, almond for $17) are fun to share with a group of friends. The restaurant has also recently begun offering brunch on Sundays, which should be well worth a look; ricotta hotcakes or mushroom custard, anyone?
60 George St.
“Love Your Salad Days” is the slogan of this new café just west of Bottega Nicastro in the Market, where I suspect a good many
of the ingredients for my delicious antipasto salad must have originated. Order at the counter, then take a seat and enjoy your mountain of greens when they come, garnished with all kinds of treasures. Doughnut lovers may be interested to know that Lollo has recently begun offering dessert from Suzy Q to follow its healthy main courses. No more long treks to Hintonburg for a hit of Maple Bacon or Matcha Tea-flavoured chewy goodness!
11 Marie-Curie Private
More healthy lunch in large bowls can be found at the latest food truck to occupy the space that was pioneered by Stone Soup on the Ottawa U campus. For $9.00-$12.00 Olé Bolé will make you a bowl filled with rice or noodles, fresh chopped vegetables, tasty proteins like Korean beef, pulled pork or grilled tofu, and a zippy sauce. Drop by to pick up the Thai Caramba or the Incredibol from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. on weekdays.
Norca Restaurant & Bar
30 Daly Ave.
The restaurant on the second floor of the new Le Germain Hotel at the corner of Daly and Waller is a pleasant and stylish space with comfy chairs, a copper-covered bar and a small but interesting menu of artfully presented plates. The potato puree with sautéed wild mushrooms and grainy toast is a very satisfying treat at $12.00, and the salad of mixed greens and artichoke morsels in a creamy dressing, topped with beautiful humpback shrimp and shavings of sharp cheddar ($16.00), was light, pretty and delicious. The soundproofing in this room is amazing; it looks directly down on the busy traffic of Waller St. and would be a most entertaining place to bring a truck-loving child, but it’s quiet enough for a business discussion or to recharge after errands.
48 Nelson St.
So you have finished your midday workout at the Champagne Bath, or are walking home from a gruelling bit of shopping in the market. You are hungry, you are tired. Here’s a tip: head home via the Portuguese Bakery on Nelson (north of Clarence) for a clamshell of their corn salad. The Syrian Kitchen, based in the bakery’s front shop, offers a variety of healthy choices, including an excellent hummus, baba ganoush and more. But the corn salad is really worth the trip—enough for a famished person, or two as a side dish, the ingredients are beyond reproach: corn, kidney beans, shredded carrots, red cabbage, lemon juice (in a separate cup, to dress the salad) and salt. Pretty, filling, quick to consume, nutritious. For $14 I picked up a salad for lunch, package of hummus for anytime of day and two tarts (custard, pecan) for tea. Well, it IS the Portuguese Bakery!
Working Title Kitchen and Café
10 Blackburn Ave.
Enter through the red doors on Laurier near Chapel. If necessary to avoid stairs, enter the side door off Chapel and take the elevator.
At last allsaints Event Space has the zoning it’s needed to open a full restaurant in its basement. For now, the space could best be described as a café, with soups, sandwiches and salads on offer from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m, Sunday through Friday. On Saturdays, the space caters to private events. The chefs are skilled and imaginative; we were impressed by our hearty chicken soup with barley and vegetables, and the Veg Bomb sandwich, with Portobello mushrooms, sauerkraut, white bean puree and other tasty morsels was delicious. A chocolate cookie at the end of our meal was heavenly; crisp on the outside, chewy within, and full of crunchy particles of espresso beans. There are beer and wine as well as coffee to drink; interesting jars of locally made condiments that would make excellent stocking stuffers or hostess gifts; and frozen entrees if you’d like to have a classy meal of coq au vin or brisket stashed away for an emergency dinner. Those of us who have been missing Culinary Conspiracy will find some comfort here.