Psst... We're working on the next generation of Chowhound! View >

Sam Ottawa's Profile

Title Last Reply

What is Your Favorite Non-Foodie Thanksgiving Dish?

Peas. Frozen peas. Boiled. Nothing on them.

Oct 09, 2007
Sam Ottawa in Home Cooking

cooking for mixed (veggie/non-veggie) marriages

I did this for years with my ex and it was never a problem. While he mostly ate his "big meat" meals out and was happy to eat my cooking the rest of the time (perhaps because I love to cook and he's not so keen), we found lots of ways to adjust.

Check out Peter Berley's newest book, the Flexitarian Table. He was already on of my favourite chef/writers, but this book is specifically designed for your predicament. Many of his suggestions are things I was already doing (e.g. risotto, with optional grilled seafood to top), but he goes into far greater detail, with meat&meatless options for every recipe. Particularly good for cooking for company.

Oct 09, 2007
Sam Ottawa in Home Cooking

Ottawa vs Toronto

For a higher-end meal, Beckta is the not-to-be-missed choice. I've lived and/or spent lots of time in some of the world's big food cities (London/New York/Montreal) and, Beckta still rates as one of the most enjoyable experiences. Food, wine and service iare top-notch, but without any pretentions. It's not so much a buzzy, go to be seen place, but if it is good food and wine you are after, Beckta is definitely worth a visit.

Where to eat / buy food - Baie St. Paul

Top spots for romantic dinner:

The best foodie dining expeirence would probably be at La Pinsonnière in La Malbaie. It is a Relais et Chateaux hotel, so you should expect top quality and prices to match.

For something a bit more reasonable, I've heard good things about La Maison Otis and Les Saveurs Oubliés, but haven't tried either, so I can't vouch for them. If you are thinking of an evening without kids, another option would be to book a room (with a whirlpool right in the bedroom) at Le Surouêt in Les Éboulements, and have a romantic dinner on the veranda overlooking the river.

Also consider a "brunch-musique" at le Domaine Forget. It is a music school / camp / all around fantastic place, with a good list of perfomers, and the Sunday "brunch-musique" events that could be fun for the whole family. If you prefer to pair a concert with your romantic dinner, you could walk the grounds to work off your good food!

Gluten free restaurant options

If you are not sticking to the typical veggie, health foody spots, his:

is a fantastic idea. This celiac sufferer created these little cards in many languages (good for travelling), including English, to give to servers, which they can then pass on to the chef when placing your order. In addition to helping them understand your questions about the menu, it can help ensure the restaurant doesn't accidentally do something like breading your food, or that they don't underestimate the seriousness of your wife's condition.

I haven't tried them myself, but came across it when doing research for a recently diagnosed friend.

Good luck!

Where to eat / buy food - Baie St. Paul

For some strange reason, when I go to the english link, the very helpful map doesn't appear, so also try:

Maison d'Affinage Maurice Dufour is a fun place where kids can learn about the cheese-making process. They'll also love the mild cheese curds from St. Fidele (which you can buy in any grocery store in the region, or from the factory itself, where they also have an little ice-cream bar) which they key ingredient in poutine (anyone who tries to justify using shredded cheese has never survived a debate with a Quebecker), which of course you must eat at a road-side "roulotte à patates". It will be far from healthy: gloopy, hearty and artery-clogging, but you must do it at least once, and you can "behave" for the rest of the trip. There is also an agricultural museum about cheese-making, but I haven't been there. Kids might also like the chocolaterie in Les Éboulements, which also has an old forge next to it. Les saveurs oubliés may be a bit fancy for eating, but they usually have lots of interesting heirloom products in the shop, which can be an adventure for kids. Also worth the short drive is a trip to the tiny village of St. Joseph de la Rive. Pick up fantastic, and I mean truly fantastic, fresh veggies and local cheese and meat at Les Jardins du Centre (technically in les Éboulements, but located on the way "down the hill" to St. Joseph - they are very friendly, and would likely be happy to help you rise veggies to prep for sandwiches), and fresh bread at the little bakery in St. Joseph de la rive, and have a picnic at the farm, by the water in St. Joseph, or take the ferry across to the island and go to the apple orchard. While you're in St. Joseph, keep the kids occupied by taking them to the artisanal paper-making place (not chowish, I know, but you need to work up your appetites).

Also check out previous posts on the Tadoussac area, if you make it down that way

On the way, if you dare take your children to a pottery shop (you don't say how old they are) the Poterie in Port-au-Persil has a little café in the back with standard sandwich & salad fare, but a lovely view with plenty of space for car-bound kids to run around. In addition, the studio is open so they can see how the pottery (kind of chowish, we often needs plates & bowls to eat from!) is made.

Meilleur resto à Tadoussac

Any reports on your trip?

Meilleur resto à Tadoussac

Il y a quesques années il n'yavait pas grand chose à manger à Tadoussac, mais depuis que les touristes ont découvert le village, il y a maintenant plusieurs options. J'espère que tu ne seras pas offensé si je continue en anglais... pour que les autres lecteurs puissent en profiter aussi:

Avoid the most touristy spots (concentrated in the centre of the village), the marina, and most hotels.

Café Bohème: right in the middle of town is a good bet. Located an old house next to Épicerie Côté. Lovely soup/sandwich/desert, and the only drinkable coffee in town. If its warm enough, you can sit outside and watch the world pass by.

For a fancier night out: La Bolée - for a time they were doing crêpes bretonnes. I believe they are still on the menu, alongside other classic french dishes. Hotel Tadoussac has a big buffet most evenings, and a set menu on the terrasse. Fine big hotel room, but nothing special. Sneak a look at the lovely mural on the dining room walls though.

I would skip the seafood buffet at the Café du Fjord (although its a good spot for a drink and live music). Best seafood in the region is actually not in Tadoussac, but in the next town - Les Escoumins. A lovely belgian couple has opened a resto and chocolaterie there. Fantastic moules-frites, lovely chocolate, definitely worth the 20 minutes on the road. Tell Else that the daughter of the anglo from Montreal who begged for good chocolate to bake with sent you... she'll know who it is.

In Tadoussac proper, a nice spot for a beer and to gaze out at the bay is the tiny Le goéland, just across from the boardwalk.

If you are preparing some of your own meals, the bakery downstairs from La Bolée has decent fresh bread (better than the grocery store), good croissants, tarte-au-sucre, and usually has pre-made sandwhiches and cookies for a picnic. For a beverage to enjoy with a picnic or other meals, Ida's a few blocks east of Épicerie Côté, has the SAQ licence and a broader selection than Côté's.

Finally, if you need good frites, steamé & poutine, skip the roulottes in the village, and go to the one at the top of the hill on the highway towards Escoumins, just past Le Chantmartin (where you can eat ok but not special pizza). That was the truck operated by Claude Lapointe, who is something of a local celebrity. He sold his truck a year ago to retire, but tradition lives on with fantastic fries. In addition to several write ups about the quality of his fries in far-flug publications, Claude knew everybody's name: he used to call all the francophones "Tremblay" (he claimed he was right 80% of the time), and anglos "les anglais."

Unexpected Return to Ottawa: Beckta & Wellington Gastro Pub

Small correction: Art-Is-In is baked by Kevin Mathieson, backed by Stéphanie (last name something with an M?). In addition to Thyme and Again & the Ottawa Bagelshop, it is also available at Nicastro's in the Glebe, Grace in the Kitchen in Ottawa South, and the Ottawa Farmer's Market in Lansdowne Park on Sundays in the Summer. You'll find several other raves about Kevin's bread on this board (many by me!). After years of ho-hum bread in Ottawa, Kevin and Stéphanie have taken this town by storm, and the accolades are well-deserved.

Fresh strawberry ideas?

1. How about a riff on strawberry shortcake: buttermilk scones, fresh strawberries, and lightly sweetened vanilla flavoured ricotta?

2. Cheesecake!

Mar 29, 2007
Sam Ottawa in Home Cooking

Jewish Deli in Quebec City/Tadoussac

Quebec City and Tadoussac are very different places! In both, you'll have trouble finding a "jewish deli" as there isn't a jewish community to speak of in Tadoussac, and I imagine not much of one in Quebec City. That said, both have good "food cultures" of their own that you should explore. There are others who can offer more detailed comments on Quebec.

Tadoussac is a tiny little town, largely supported by summer tourist trade and whalewatching. The food offerings were traditionally quite dire, but things have been looking up in recent years. A few years ago, a vegetarian meal was nearly impossible to find (not just in Tad, but the region as a whole), but the tourist trade has resulted in quite an improvement. A few recommendations:

Café Bohème: right in the middle of town. Lovely shop with the only decent coffee in town (IMHO). Good soups, quiche, salads, etc. A nice spot to linger on the porch and people-watch (if you can get a seat in the busy summer months!).

La Bolée: high-er end (for a small town) french-style cuisine. Offerings have varied over the years, but you can still get a decent buckwheat crepe, a traditional breton dish.
Check out the bakery under La Bolée for fresh bread, croissants, sandwiches and baked treats. Try the Quebec specialty of "Tarte au sucre", which translates as "sugar pie".

Skip the heavily promoted "seafood buffet" at the Café du Fjord in Tadoussac. The best seafood eating in the region is actually in the next town down the road, and definitely worth a trip. The belgian bistro and chocolaterie in Les Escoumins (I can't recall the name, but you can't miss it - on the main drag, bright red sign) was started by a belgian couple who decided to relocate to Quebec. He is the baker, patissier and chef and wife Else manages the front of house and makes the delicious chocolate confections. Their various mussel dishes are enormous and delicious (and come with fantastic fries), and other seafood is excellent as well (their "Salade Neptune" is a personal favourite). You won't be able to leave without eating a delicious desert, and picking up some chocolate in the adjacent shop for the drive home (if it lasts that long).

If you're driving between Quebec and Tadoussac, the Carlevoix region has a constantly expanding food culture. Check out for ideas on where to stop. A personal favourite is "Le Surouêt" in Les Éboulements, where you can sit on the lovely veranda and stare off into the distance while you enjoy your meal.

Non Meat Eater Restaurant Suggestions

If Brunoise is on your list, don't hesitate. Ckeck the menu on the web beforehand, and as long as it suits, go! I've never been disappointed by a meal there, and have yet to meet anyone who was.

Montreal Brunch?

Three on the Plateau:

Bagel Etc. on St. Laurent (fantastics eggs benedict on bagels, kitchy plateau decor)
l'Anecdote on Rachel (great fruit, along with the usual brunch faves, diner-style atmostpere, read a tintin book while you wait)
Café Art Java on Mont-Royal (best coffee in the city, lovely soufflés, great soups and sandwiches for something more hearty , slightly more upscale but still casual atmosphere)

Old Montreal:
Le Cartet

Salvaging tinny tomato sauce?

Would be tough to remedy the tinniness. I swear by Pomi tomatoes in a tetrapack for that very reason. Sometimes the "tinniness" is just too much citric acid. If you really want to give a rescue a try, the one suggestion I would make is to purée a good quantity of sundried tomatoes (either oil-packed, or well-soaked dried) and add the purée to the sauce. . The intensity and sweetness might help. A few hot pepper flakes might also remedy the blandness.

Let us know how you make out.

Mar 14, 2007
Sam Ottawa in Home Cooking

Good reading cookbooks?

My absolute favourite "good reading" cookbook is Nigel Slater's Kitchen Diaries. I lost a whole Saturday (not exagerating) because I couldn't put it down.

Mar 14, 2007
Sam Ottawa in Home Cooking

Old Montreal

Casa de Matteo didn't wow me. For I haven't been to Seak Frites St. Paul or Bistro Gourmet. Brasserie Holder is a reliable bet. Boris Bistro is decent bistro fare... but it really shines in the summer when you can sit outdoors.

For "ethnic" and good cheap lunches head to "the Plateau" neighbourhood. Indulge in the battle of the bagels by sampling both St. Viateur and Fairmont (you can walk between the two). Also see 's list of favourites... (he used to be the pastry chef at a great resto) as their recommendations are pretty solid.

Ottawa - Stella review

As a booster of Ottawa restos in general, I'm happy to hear that others have had a more positive experience.

Ottawa - Stella review

Overall a disappointing experience. Emphasis appears to be more on style than substance. Hopefully they read these boards and will improve. I desperately want more good restos in Ottawa!

Positive notes: Lovely room. We were greeted warmly and offered a choice of tables, including a booth for 6, when we were only 4 (more later). Shoe buffer outside the nicely-decorated washrooms a nice touch. Mostly attentive service. We ordered something from each section of the menu, and the meal was timed perfectly, which I know is not an easy feat in a busy kitchen. Separate billing arranged with a quick nod.

Negatives: In my opinion, these are some areas that could use improvement.

Hospitality details: Arriving on a cold, weekday night, I noticed most diners had their coats draped over their chairs. Ours were taken to a coat rack, but only after we asked if they had one. Strange for a high-er end resto in a winter capital. We should have taken the table for 6, as ours had so many things on it (8 very tall glasses, glass candle, glass vase for flower, s&p, etc) there wasn't room to place 4 menus and a wine list on the table. The servers at one point moved the accoutrements to the side of the table by my elbow, leaving a hole in the middle. Assuming this was an oversight, and not wanting to knock anything over (or burn myself on the candle), I shifted it back. Turns out they had done so to clear space for a breadboard with a loaf of bread and dipping oil. An attempt at style... but frustrating, as we couldn't reach around the very tall glasses and other glass things to cut the bread! We relegated the flower and candle to a neighbouring table. The floor tiles in the nicely decorated washroom were cracked, with the better part of a row missing right in the middle of the floor. My white dish (not a plate, not a bowl, not a pasta bowl) had gray scratches all over the rim... strange for a newer establishment.

Food: My companions pronounced their dishes ok, with one particularly enjoying his steak. I was underwhelmed by a calimari salad. The tentacles were fine, but the body tough and chewy. Mesclun was overwhelmed by way too much balsamic dressing (there was a lake in the bottom of the bowl), and so got limp and slimy quickly. Pasta in the salad was tough (and I prefer al dente), and appeared to have been cooked in advance. I detected one pine nut. I don't remember if there were supposed to be more, or if this was a stray. In any case, it was odd. In retrospect, I wish I had piped up and asked for my dish to be changed.

Ottawa Visit: Dinners at Beckta and Whalebone Oyster House

Thanks for the report Bob Mac!

UES Coffee

Thanks folks. I "killed" a whole Sunday Times on a sofa DTUT, ate fantastic Israeli Salad at Effies and grabbed a good americano from 3 Guys.

Mar 13, 2007
Sam Ottawa in Manhattan

Old Montreal

Be careful as Old Montreal tourist traps abound. A few reliables:

Lunch: Olive et Gourmando on St. Paul. Fantastic soup and sandwhichwes and a Valhrona brownie that is to die for. Closed Mondays.
Brunch: Le Cartet, on McGill.
Dinner: Chez l'Épicier on St. Paul. Inventive market cuisine, upscale service, good wine list, casual atmosphere.

Local 'hound favorites in downtown Ottawa?

Much to my dismay, I was quite disappointed with the Black Tomato on my last two visits. One meal featured grossly undercooked "roast" poatoes, no bread (they were "out"... of bread!), and halfhearted service. The next featured long waits, lukewarm mains (again, a server issue), and a side salad swimming in oil. It's been ages since I've been back, which is sad, as I really ejoyed the place on its good days.

Ottawa Visit: Dinners at Beckta and Whalebone Oyster House

Thanks for the review Bob Mac. I've been a big fan of Beckta since my first visit, and am glad to see you appreciated its charms. Stephen Beckta has put together a superb resto, and not just "for Ottawa." I've brought out-of-towners from Europe who would rank the experience in their top 10. I think a big part of the appeal is the warm, attentive but not smothering service, and the knowledgeabilty of the staff, from Stephen right down to the servers and even the "bread boy" about the wine and food they serve. Michael Moffat's cooking is definitely worth going back a second time!

As you may know, Steven Vardy was the opening chef at Beckta before recently moving to Whalesbone. There is a bit of the celebrity chef taint to him, but his food at Beckta made that restaurant one of my top spots. I've yet to try Whalesbone under his tutelage, not least because a recent review mused that the menu seemed a tad overpriced. Any other Ottawa 'houds care to share their 2 cents?

UES Coffee

Help! In desperate search for good coffee on the UES (90th & lex area). Preferably somewhere to enjoy it over a copy of the times. It is just me, or is there a definite shortage of neighbouthood cafés in this area?

Feb 23, 2007
Sam Ottawa in Manhattan

Sala Rosa or Club Espagnol?

I find the menu at Sala has more variety, & interesting vegetable dishes - Club espanol very meat-heavy.

Best Ottawa Indian?

Many of my southeast asian friends use East India Company as a caterer. I'm not fond of buffet-style myself, but the food I've had at at parties catered by East India has been quite good.

Ceylonta is quite good. Last time I was there I found they had used a very free hand with the ghee, and the dishes were quite greasy, but the flavours are nuanced and nicely balanced.

I'm also fond of Taj Mahal on Bank street in the Glebe.

Don't know of any particularly high-end Indian in Ottawa (certainly not to compare to other cities like Vancouver). If you find something great, please post!

Ottawa - The Diner/Zuni Grill

Review in the Citizen was quite glowing, as I recall. Haven't been myself though.

gourmet chinese?

I used to work around the corner from Orchidée de Chine on Peel and found it lovely, but haven't heard anything about it in a while.

Light lunch - Cote St. Luc

I'm a native, but am having a hard time thinking of a good spot for a quick, light lunch in the Cote St. Luc area, which I don't know very well.

Can the 'hounds help?

Is there a way to replace the flavor of fish when cooking vegetarian?

the missing flavour is a salty / umami type flavour. Depending on your recipe, you could try:

miso paste. don't cook for too long though - add at the last minute
umeboshi plum or umpboshi plum paste

If you would like to stick to a more italian-type flavour though, best suggestion would be to add capers or olives as suggested above.

Feb 02, 2007
Sam Ottawa in Home Cooking