An old-fashioned charcoal grill is the secret behind Maison Kabob's tender, juicy meats. Its flames lick skewers of marinated chicken and filet mignon, infusing them with broiled flavour while locking in their natural juices. Cooks pair the kebabs with creamy sauces, fresh herbs, and roasted vegetables, and they also stuff them into pita sandwiches along with hummus and salad. All of the eatery's dishes are made fresh daily without preservatives.
Chefs Dominic and Mohamed draw their culinary inspiration from the Old World, crafting a menu of predominantly French cuisine with occasional Italian influences. Garlic-cream sauce lends a flavourful richness to orders of escargot, and tender filet mignon emerges from the kitchen decorated with sauce aux poivres and a latticework of freshly tattooed grill marks. The chefs embrace Mediterranean flavours by baking rustic pizzas and glazing penne and linguini pasta with bolognese or carbonara sauces. On Friday and Saturday evening, the dining room echoes with the live piano performances of Yvon Farmer, who effortlessly transitions between iconic standards and contemporary compositions.
Alternating bands of solid chartreuse, stripes, grey damask, and a silvery geometric pattern, Restaurant Medzes' wall treatments merge the classic with the contemporary—creating an apt visual representation of their menu. Flambeed saganaki, moussaka, and lamb skewers anchor the kitchen's repertoire of traditional Greek fare and can be assembled into a miniature battle map of Thermoplyae, if you're a child. The Hellenic influence also permeates unexpected dishes: feta and tzatziki sauce tops burgers, and black olives, pesto, and sun-dried tomatoes are tossed into fettuccine. Cannelloni, veal parmesan, and artisan pizzas further extend the Mediterranean's reach into the dining experience.
When lauded Ottawa restaurateur Ion Aimers turned his attention to pizza, he didn't want to reinvent the wheel—just upgrade and transform it. Some of his pies at ZaZaZa Pizza With Pizazz are indeed reminiscent of Italian classics: there's the Bo Derek, which is decorated with pesto oil, feta cheese, and tomatoes, as well as the French Kiss, whose brie, artichoke, and caramelized onions work as a harmony of flavours.
Other pizzas, however, get a little more audacious. One is named the Scary Roommate, in reference to its classic dorm-room toppings of hot dogs, cheddar, and Kraft Dinner. The Shangri La Di Da, by contrast, takes its culinary cues from the east, dappling the crust with a tomato tandoori sauce, goat cheese, sweet peppers, and honey drizzle. Every pizza is served on one of three types of crust—dusted cornmeal, honey oat, or gluten-free—with sauces made from scratch. Other menu items have likewise undergone refreshing makeovers. The lemonade, for example, arrives freshly squeezed in a sugar-rimmed glass with mint, rather than still trapped inside a lemon.
Nestled in ByWard Market, Casa Do Churrasco’s chefs carve up meaty platters of chicken, pork, steak, seafood, and sausage, prepared with traditional Portuguese recipes. Framed in white tile, a cutout window provides glimpses into the bustling kitchen—and an order of sizzling steak on a stone recreates it at the table. The earth-toned dining room houses a buffet between 11:45 a.m. and 2 p.m. during weekdays, ensuring that no market-goer leaves hungry. Libation artists stand by prepared to whip up mixed drinks for parties toasting to birthdays, Tuesdays, and anniversaries.
When executive chef Toyoji Hemmi surveys the restaurant's daily deliveries of fresh seafood, he envisions how the fish can be used to create exciting, new sushi entrees instead of just the widely expected staples. Food & Wine magazine praised this dedication to inventive flavor combinations in 2005, labeling chef Hemmi an "innovator" and calling him one of its "favorite iconoclasts" in the United States.
He accentuates maki with seemingly disparate ingredients—including rosemary, walnuts, and cherry tomatoes—that add new dimensions to the rolls' familiar tastes, textures, and pronunciations. Established Japanese flavors remain at the forefront of other items though, such as the wasabi-rubbed filet mignon and the organic cha-soba noodles. This distinctive interplay between contemporary and traditional approaches helped to earn the menu a score of "very good to excellent" from Zagat.
The dining room's vaguely industrial setting also toes the line between contemporary and historic, featuring rustic brick walls and exposed wooden rafters as well as chic, low-slung chairs and modern track lighting. Diners can peek behind the stone-countered sushi bar and watch the chefs assemble platters of maki and nigiri, or join the bartenders, who pass their evenings pouring tastes of sake and shochu.