Inside Sant? Restaurant, the piquant scents of globally inspired cuisine mingle amidst the work of local artists, whose pieces fill the dining room's walls. This eatery and gallery is the brainchild of owner Donna Holtom, who believes that "beautiful art serves to heighten the dining experience," as she told Ottawa at Home magazine in 2009. Diners also get a better sense of this while dining among majestic and historic views of Ottawa and the four diamond vistas at the corner of Sussex Drive and Rideau Street.
Inside the kitchen, Chef David De Bernardi demonstrates his own artistic skills. David?s unique style of presenting food has earned him much acclaim as he perfected his craft in some of the finest kitchens, including CAA Five Diamond Langdon Hall, Stagiare/Montelimar, France, Reds of Toronto, and Toca at the Ritz Carlton. His seamless integration of European and Asian ingredients has effectively elevated Sante?s traditional signature cuisine alongside David?s visionary dishes to appeal to all palates. Using a palette of free-range chicken, organic salmon, and locally sourced produce, Chef David paints plates with aromatic curries and ginger-spiked stir-fries. To accompany these fragrantly seasoned dishes, Sant? Restaurant stocks its subterranean vault with a selection of Canadian and international wines. The elegant, intimate space and inventive cuisine earned the eatery Diners' Choice awards from OpenTable for Best Ambiance, Romantic, and Fit for Foodie.
Chef Brian Vallipuram garnered his flair for flavour in his birth country of Sri Lanka and honed it while training to become a Master Chef in kitchens across Europe and Pangea. After prestigious stints at various upscale eateries in Toronto, Brian headed to Rose Hall, Jamaica where he gleaned invaluable hotel-dining experience at the White Witch Restaurant at the Ritz Carlton Hotel. Currently rooted in Ottawa, Brian populates Grill Forty One's menu with handpicked fresh and local ingredients, enabling him to craft upscale dishes such as rack of lamb, slow-cooked duck, and Atlantic salmon.
Located inside the historic Lord Elgin Hotel, Grill Forty One takes its name from the year it came into fruition: 1941. Conceived of as a space where luxury mingles with warmth and a casual vibe, the eatery comprises a lounge with flat-screen TVs and huge windows where guests can gaze out onto vistas of Elgin Street and Confederation Park where squirrels are known to perform Shakespeare. Earth tones, wood trims, and a wall with built-in glass cabinets showcasing fine wines embellish the dining room. With booths and banquet seating, Grill Forty One accommodates those popping in for a cocktail before a night at the theatre or larger groups meeting for breakfast, lunch, or dinner.
With its well-stocked wine racks and rock walls, Vineyards Wine Bar & Bistro cultivates the softly lit ambience of an Old-World bistro. As mentioned on the bistro's website, "we want [customers] to feel they've had an experience?that they would maybe find if they were in Europe, but you don't have to go to Europe to find it."
This international influence also appears in the menu of fusion-tinged comfort foods. Although freshly prepared chicken parmigiana and three-cheese tortellini pasta in a gorgonzola cream sauce exhibit a commitment to homey flavours, the chefs demonstrate their culinary range by spooning red curry sauce over grilled lamb chops and creating Cajun-style jambalaya. Echoing this same multinational inclination, the wine list features more than 300 bottles from New- and Old-World producers, which helped Vineyards Wine Bar & Bistro earn Wine Spectator's Award of Excellence.
Though their flavours can range across the globe, chefs source many ingredients locally, seeking out seasonal vegetables as well as artisanal cheeses from Quebec's iconic brie mines. Nightly entertainment also draws on local talent?the eatery invites area jazz bands to perform on select evenings.
Fish Market Restaurant, housed within the walls of a bright red-brick heritage building in the historical ByWard Market, actually encompasses three restaurants. Founded in 1979, the maritime-themed eatery keeps traditions alive as staff brings in daily catches from international waters to the kitchen where chefs craft these fish, shellfish, and crustaceans into dishes. They reflect the restaurant?s global mentality in their cooking, blending culinary styles such as Canadian, English, Cajun, Thai, and Caribbean.
In Vineyards Wine Bar Bistro, local jazz musicians play live music each Sunday, Tuesday, and Wednesday night as servers ferry more than 300 wines and 200 imported beers to tables?a feat that requires enormous strength. Inside the main restaurant, tables draped with blue cloths sit in rows on hardwood floors, under walls hung with nautical paraphernalia such as chains, nets, and crabbing traps. The dining room fills with myriad aromas of such dishes as deep-fried coconut-crusted shrimp, spicy Cajun shrimp linguine, PEI mussels, and house platters featuring queen crab, Nova Scotia lobster, and triple A rib steaks. Servers complement dishes with a roster of 21 wines by the glass or bottle and several local craft beers on tap.
Among the local artwork and surrealist paintings that pepper Zola Restaurant?s walls, diners sit at granite tables isolated by gauzy red curtains. Wafting aromas of fresh-baked bread emanate from an open-concept kitchen, where guests watch as chefs combine handmade pastas with savoury sauces and blanket gourmet pizzas with smoked cheeses and cured meats. Just like wrestlers training for a match on a lifeboat, guests can enjoy a light lunch or brunch, or delve into hearty plates of housemade sausage or slow-roasted porchetta??local pork shoulder spiced with Italian truffle, sage, rosemary, and thyme and hiding beneath a layer of hot pancetta.
On Saturdays, live jazz enhances the atmosphere, mingling with the sounds of cooking and tinkling glasses raised in celebration. Sommeliers and bartenders pair the dishes with local and imported wines, beers, and cocktails, though patrons can also bring their own wine or steal sips from their child's juice box. In an effort to outsmart dietary restrictions and expose all palates to Italy?s culinary traditions, chefs can make their dough or pasta gluten-free upon request.
Going to 222 Lyon Tapas Bar for the first time feels more like going to an old friend's house than visiting an unfamiliar eatery. The restaurant inhabits a 19th-century home, where small tables pepper a 30-person dining room that bears a carved-wood fireplace. A larger booth rests in a nook framed by stained-glass windows, which filter ample sunlight onto a tabletop strewn with Spanish-tinged plates of pork tarragon and smoked salmon. Daily offerings and shape-shifting fonts enliven the regular menu, whose smaller portions encourage ordering several plates to share with dining companions. Fresh fruit, chocolate, and real cream build a succinct selection of desserts, and a litany of wines balance out overseas spices via 6- or 9-ounce glasses or bottles.