Monday, May 27, 2013

Ottawa Foodie Challenge

This past weekend, Lola and I competed in the Ottawa Foodie Challenge. As food bloggers and Amazing Race connoisseurs, this event was perfect for us. It gave us the chance to test our local food and restaurant knowledge, explore the city and discover and rediscover all that Ottawa's culinary scene has to offer.

We scoured the city's central neighborhoods including Little Italy, Hintonburg, Westboro, New Edinburgh, the Glebe and the ByWard Market. During the challenge, we learnt about the best places to eat, drink and shop in Ottawa. We discovered several of the tastiest new additions to the city, as well as where to head for gourmet groceries, delis, bakeries and more.

While we would love to tell you about everywhere we went and everything we tried, the post would be far too long! So instead, we will focus on our favourite new dives where we are sure to return.


Bonita's Cantina 
Tucked away in the industrial park of City Centre, Bonita's is a new food truck featuring Mexican food prepared fresh daily. They offer familiar favourites, some specials and also vegetarian and gluten-free options. During the challenge, Lola and I got to taste their guacamole, which was fresh and delicious. 

Hintonburg Public House
Known for its traditional pub fare and comfort food, this chic restaurant has something to please everyone. Their spicy beer nuts and fish and chips are a fan favourite.

Table 40
Established by the famous chefs/brothers of Fraser Café, Table 40 is located right beside the café and is opened on Mondays for a three-course family-style menu that changes weekly. While Lola and I haven't yet had the chance to try it, we will definitely be reserving an upcoming Monday night to experience this creative culinary experience.

The Albion Rooms
Had it not been for the challenge, we may not have discovered this new gem. Located between the Arts Court and the Novotel on Nicholas Street, the Ablion Rooms have a 'farm to table' motto, featuring local, fresh ingredients and a menu that changes frequently. We got a sneak peak at the food while peeling and pickling quail eggs at this restaurant during the challenge. 

The FarmTeam Cookhouse & Bar
A North American style cookhouse and bar, The FarmTeam is the type of place you can go for locally sourced breakfast with your family, a business lunch with gourmet homemade soup and sandwich combos, or to enjoy seasonal, local Farmer’s dinners with friends.

The Moon Room

Similar to Two Six {Ate}, this lounge is located in Little Italy and features small plates until 2:00am. The menu is constantly changing, yet the chefs continue to keep it interesting. Many have raved about the killer atmosphere and unique bourbon cocktails.

Union Local 316
Another great restaurant on our must-try list is definitely Union! This hipster hang-out specializes in Southern cuisine and everything that goes along with that. Boiled peanuts followed by their signature buttermilk-bathed fried chicken is sure to please any palette. Again, this Southern hot spot is open late until 2:00am.

Bakeries (and much more)

Art Is In
The participants of the Ottawa Foodie Challenge were treated with breakfast compliments of Art Is In Bakery. I indulged in a raspberry scone, which was probably the best scone I have ever tasted. But the bakery is much more than just great breads and also specializes in cakes, macarons, tarts, and a variety of mouth-watering sandwiches and burritos, including croque monsieurs! You can find this heavenly gem in the industrial park of City Centre. 

Nutty Greek Bake Shop
Made fresh and on-site, Nutty Greek offers a wide selection of sweet and savoury treats. They may be known for their Loukournades, which are bite-sized honey drenched doughnuts, however, they also serve an array of other scrumptious meals. We chowed down a fabulous Greek vegetable wrap during the challenge for some extra energy.

Simply Raw Express
Located in Westboro, Simply Raw Express offers completely gluten-free, organic, plant-based and mostly raw goodies. They make various fresh-pressed juices, salads, wraps, raw desserts and cheesecakes! This place is ideal for anyone doing a raw detox.

Suzy Q Doughnuts
Although Lola and I have both had the privilege of trying these amazing doughnuts on a few occasions, I couldn't pass up the opportunity to mention them here. Suzy Q has definitely mastered the art of doughnutry, and she should be thanked for making such edible pleasures. If you have yet to try these doughnuts, we strongly suggest that you go!


Beyond the Pale Brewing Company
Ottawa's newest craft brewery features hand-made and all natural beer with innovative and exciting flavours. During the challenge, Lola and I got to try their signature 'Pink Fuzz' and 'Rye Guy' beer, which definitely had an intriguing taste!

Divino Wine Studio
This welcoming wine bar space in Little Italy is part tasting room, part restaurant, part school. You can take Italian language and cooking clases or indulge in one of their house specials when the studio is not closed for a private function. During the challenge, we had to find the oldest bottle of wine on their wine wall, which exclusively features Italian wine.

Food Shops

Located in Beechwood, Jacobsons is a gourmet grocery store, specializing in cheeses, jams, preserves, oils, cured and artisanal meats, wines, pastries and chocolates. Their locally made jam has interesting combinations such as Rhubarb and Black Pepper, Peach Cardamom and Blueberry item we had to track down for the challenge. Everything in the store looked absolutely delectable and we will definitely be returning in the near future to stock up our cupboards!

La Bottega 
A modern Italian deli located in the heart of the ByWard Market, La Bottega is one of Lola and I's favourite places! While you can shop-til-you-drop for Italian specialities, you can also grab a delicious sandwich at the deli to go, or sit down at the tables in the back and enjoy the full service lunch counter. Cooking classes are also offered, where you can learn to cook a three-course Italian meal. Also, they've recently launched a special Sunday Brunch from 11:30-2:00pm.

The Red Apron 
The Red Apron is a unique establishment known for sophisticated comfort food. You can either shop their retail store, which carries fresh and frozen meals, fresh breads, fruit pies, cakes, etc., or you can participate in their weekly Fresh Meal service with flexible options to suit your needs. Either way, the Red Apron is a must-try! 

There are certainly a lot more places to discover throughout our beautiful city, which you can find in the latest food edition of the Ottawa Magazine: 

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