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.
Please send news of your recent Sandy Hill food discoveries to: firstname.lastname@example.org
1 Elgin, National Arts Centre The main dining room at the NAC has closed for renovations, and will reopen on August 14 with a new name, 1 Elgin. The new space will feature guest chefs from across Canada, redesigning the menu every 6 to 8 weeks to showcase cuisine and ingredients from different regions of the country. In the meantime, Le Café’s terrace will be open for al fresco meals, a good place to keep in mind before an evening at the jazz festival or when you just want to experience one of those balmy summer nights by the canal.
Cadena Spanish Café, 323 Somerset St. East – The ambiance at Cadena is a little utilitarian, but the café now has a liquor license which helps to make dinner there a festive, if not cozy option. Cadena’s shrimp in a garlic, cream, and wine sauce is a blissfully delicious dish, and makes a fine supper when matched with a Spanish salad laden with tomatoes, olives and artichoke hearts. If you want to make it dinner for two, throw in some patatas bravas, roasted potatoes drizzled with a spicy sauce. The shrimp and the patatas can be found on Cadena’s tapas menu. There are also lots of good sandwich options and some hearty all-day breakfasts.
Chinese Meat Pie House, 508 Rideau St. – The eponymous meat pies are good for eating out of hand: a blend of beef or pork with spices and onions, sandwiched between circles of dough that seem to have been steamed, then fried. This little restaurant also serves steamed dumplings, hot and sour soup, and a tasty, crisp salad of shredded raw potato in a tangy vinaigrette. Vegetarian options are few, though there is a rather bland pancake made with rice flour and green onions. There is a fresh new counter running around the room, at which it would be fun to sit and watch the passing scene on Rideau Street while garnishing one’s meal with the soya sauce, vinegar, and chili paste the restaurant has provided. Takeout would also be a good option, now that summer is here and our local parks are beckoning.
Happy Goat, 229 Rideau St. and 317 Wilbrod St. – There is probably a better chance of getting a seat at the newer branch of Happy Goat on Rideau Street, although there’s a more inspiring selection of baked goods at the well-loved Wilbrod Branch. At either establishment the grilled cheese sandwich, laden with assorted cheeses and caramelized onions, is a gooey masterpiece.
Si Senor, 506 Rideau St. – There’s another tiny new restaurant in the brick house right next door to the Chinese Meat Pie House, this one serving Mexican street food. Fresh guacamole, tender tacos and enormous burritos, washed down with a beautiful hibiscus drink or a glass of horchata, a milky drink made with rice and cinnamon, that will send you home in a happy mood. The friendly service and cheerful decor will lift your spirits too.
Working Title Kitchen and Café, 10 Blackburn Ave. but enter through the red doors on Laurier near Chapel – There are exciting signs of a patio taking shape on Laurier outside allsaints event space these days. Look for a soft launch of this new space towards the end of June. Working Title’s plans are to offer a patio menu, Merry Dairy ice cream and lots of activities for kids, seven days a week. Meanwhile, the café’s 5 – 7 evenings continue: with live music booked through July, on Thursday evenings; and the parent- friendly kindercinema program on Fridays. There is also a new meatless Monday menu featuring old favourites from Perfection-Satisfaction-Promise, thanks to the owner of this late, lamented Laurier restaurant now working as allsaints’ accounts manager.