Here comes another winter. What neighbourhood eateries will give you joyful moments during the darkest months of the year? Please share stories of your favourite Sandy Hill food experiences with email@example.com
Chef Ric’s, 384 Rideau St.
There’s a truly democratic scene to be found on Rideau Street every morning, as commuters, construction workers, students, and folks who may be living through some hard times line up together for one of the best meal deals to be found anywhere these days: a hot breakfast for $4.99. I would have enjoyed my breakfast sandwich (the Thursday special) more if the cheese had been a little more melted and oozy, but the potatoes that came alongside were tender and scrumptiously seasoned with onions and herbs, and there were two very good fresh orange wedges to brighten the plate and add some vitamins. Sit at the bar in the window and take in the morning life at the heart of our neighbourhood.
In’s Kitchen, 65 Templeton St.
It’s great to see that this family-run Korean restaurant made it through its first year, and during the pandemic too. The menu is still short and simple; you still order at the counter and pay in advance. There’s a creative cook at work in the kitchen who provides a few welcome surprises. A dish of dak-galbi (chicken, chewy rice cakes, and vegetables in a rather spicy sauce with rice) came topped with a little melted cheese, like an exotic poutine. And the accompanying side salad of finely julienned cabbage was topped with a delicious vinaigrette, a thick, tangy, and colourful slurry of apple and carrot.
Working Title, 330 Laurier E.
The patio has closed for the season, and everyone is gathering indoors. It’s great to see that the chapel area is open for general use now, so coffee drinkers and lunching friends can spread out a bit more. The coolers at the front of the house are filled with good things; quiches, soups, pate, and cheese. There is also a new line of wines for sale, so after you stock up at the bakery counter you can go home with all the necessary ingredients for a proper continental picnic.
Soup Fairy Malatang, 425 Cumberland St.
Another restaurant that opened mid-pandemic and has lived to tell the tale, Soup Fairy offers a variation on the hot pot concept. Fill your giant bowl with whatever combination of noodles, greens, mushrooms, and protein captures your fancy. There are dozens of choices, so it won’t be hard to amass the minimum 400 grams. Then hand it over to the staff and choose one of five different broths or a dry spice mix. Minutes later, a big bowl of soup or stir fry is ready for you to top with coriander, scallions, chili sauce, or a few other garnishes. The lemongrass tom yum is delicious, just spicy enough to leave you with a warm glow after you’ve finished the last bites of tender-crisp broccoli, chewy black mushrooms, and spongy tofu puffs.
Syrian Kitchen, 48 Nelson St.
The Syrian Kitchen’s sesame seed-studded falafels must be among the best I have ever eaten. They have become a lunchtime staple in our house. Pick up some pita bread while shopping at Loblaws; then swing by Syrian Kitchen for a half dozen fresh, crisp falafels and a few dips, and you have a fine meal to bring home. If you’re organized, you can even bring your own containers and feel virtuous while enjoying your lunch.
It’s well also worth dropping by Syrian Kitchen for one of their full meals, or to get them to make you a sandwich when you haven’t been able to find fresh pitas. The chicken skewers (shish taouk) are moist and flavourful; the ground beef kababs come topped with a sweet and tangy garnish of cherries; and the kibbeh (seasoned ground beef fried inside a pocket of bulgur wheat dough) can be bought individually or in a tangy yogurt-based sauce. All meals come with generous portions of rice, salad, and numerous dips and spreads. We have found that two or three meals will feed four people generously.