Citizen: Centertown Restaurant Elevating “date” night

This article also appeared in Apt613.
New restaurant Citizen opened its doors around the corner from established big sister town. last month offering a respectable addition to Ottawa’s culinary centertown strip. Whether accompanied or not, I’ve penciled this joint in as a regular date night in my schedule.

Exterior ShotThe stylish pane glass store-front of wood and neon adds understated modern elegance to the oft overlooked side street off the pedestrian thoroughfare – a hopeful sign that the Elgin strip may expand to a boutique neighbourhood with off-Elgin options.

The façade opens on to long bar hugging the right-wall facing dark leather banquette seating that makes the most of a narrow but airy space while an adjoining “back-room” features an ingenious moveable wall allowing overflow dinners to be part of the bustling atmosphere on busy nights or provided private dining.

With a no reservations policy, we arrived at half-six to score a table for four on a busy Thursday evening.  Cocktails range around the 10$ mark and I’ve already been back for the Lato Nord that offers a warm twist of gin with Cynar while whisky buffs would do well to opt for the Horse with No Name.

The wines list also comes in at a healthy price point ranging from $7-12 a glass and a selection of bottles under 50$ to $100. The server was friendly, helpful and astute in guiding our selection.

Dates. Did I mention the dates? Okay, here is the thing; I could eat the dates and only theCitizen Interior dates with my Lato Nord and be fully sated.  The rich, gooey fruit wrapped in bacon drizzled in sauce and topped with crisp sliced almonds are luscious:  blending sweet to savoury, viscous to crisp to great effect.  It is a shame that there are only 3 per $9 serving and I hope the kitchen reconsiders a more respectable 4 or 5 which would only encourage me to order more to my table.

The menu features a dozen offerings that work well as shared dishes ranging from $8-16.  Among the most successful were the generous and well-seasoned steak tartar, the charred broccoli, the crisp potatoes, and the sweet, fruity melt in your mouth scallops crudo (ceviche). The star however was the yams and chorizo a creative selection proving the sum of combined ingredients – crunchy tortilla chips, cream and coriander – will always elevate.  Less successful though respectable were the falafel, lasagna and most unfortunately, the borscht and brisket where the absolutely beautiful meat was offset by a soup more bitter than sour.

Citizen delivers a casual, creative and quality dining experience. The staff on both visits enhanced the soirée with comfortable yet professional service.  See you again soon for date night!

Citizen
207 Gilmour St.
 

 

Winter Carnival & Showstoppers in Sandy Hill this Weekend

Sandy Hill is spoiled for fun this weekend with Showstoppers‘ return to All Saints
on Saturday and Sunday  while our very own Winterlshowstoppersude is back at the Sandy Hill Community Centre on Sunday!

Christmas didn’t signal the end of those delightful pop-up markets.  Showstoppers is back in the impeccably renovated All Saint’s Church. Organized by Ladies Who Lunch, if the pre-holiday market was anything to go by, this event will be a blast.  Great products, food offerings and a bar were set up last time.  Jan 28 & 29 Showstoppers Winter Shopping Extravaganza at All Saints (317 Chapel St in Sandy Hill) Saturday noon-7 and Sunday noon-5.carni2017

The annual Winter Carnival kicks off at 2pm on Sunday. Get set for merriment, conviviality, skating, maple syrup, sleigh rides, ice sculptures, rides, a community dinner, crafts and more. See details on the posters about town.

It all takes place at the Sandy Hill Community Centre 250 Somerset St E from 2PM with plenty of indoor and outdoor activities.

Organizer’s are accepting donations of new or lightly used winter wear.  A wonderful opportunity to come together as a community and share with our more vulnerable neighbours.

The Ghomeshi Effect: Bracing look at sexual violence in Canada

The Ghomeshi Effect has nothing do to with the eponymous trial yet everything to do withghomeshi-effect-poster the discussions that event catapulted in to the mainstream. It’s a simple, pared-down production that hits its mark through verbatim content and steadfast delivery.

Creator/Director Jessica Ruano made a call for witnesses of the sexual violence experience via social media. From this call interviews with subjects having experienced, worked in, reflected on, and survived sexual violence were documented. The dialogue of the production uses, in its entirety, edited interviews to inform and share a conversation that is both personal and raw. The six cast members deliver these personal accounts while executing choreographed dance moves on a stage shared only with moveable low-tech grey desks.

The sparseness of the stage creates the space for the interviews, allowing experiences to fill the theatre.  Shattering and infuriating tales of why women, men and children don’t come forward and a challenging condemnation of the capricious nature of our justice system reverberated. Given the unrelenting emotions the production could be well served by a brief intermission to provide breathing space.

The cast work separately but in harmony providing individual powerhouse channels. Delivery, anghomeshi-effect-castd believability were on-point and each shone in their own right. The choreography had highs and lows working most effective when subtlety executed while becoming artificial when overtly athletic.  The bilingual contributions by Marc-André Charette and Gabrielle Lalonde were particularly successful in heightening the reality behind the script. A unique piece of theatre, Ruano has created a thought-provoking effective and entertaining production capturing and adding innovatively to a difficult conversation.

The best art is that which ignites and intensifies feelings. If the conversation amplified by the titular trial and, more recently, by events such as the Women’s March feels relevant than see this recommended and woke production.

The Ghomeshi Effect
Until January 28th, 2017
At The Gladstone – 910 Gladstone Ave.

February 2nd 2017
At The Shenkman Art Centre 245 Centrum Blvd.

Happy Goat jump starts Sandy Hill Coffee Scene

An edited of this review was published by Apt613.
Happy 2017 indeed as Happy Goat Coffee opens its doors today in Sandy Hill.

img_2272The coffee shop at the corner of Wilbrod and Friel has rung in the New Year with an on-trend make over and brand new lease on life thanks to the arrival Happy Goat. A local Ottawa business committed to fair trade practices they source from small-crop farmers in Africa, Asia, Central and South America. The focus on small scale farmers supports ecological diversity in the crops as well as providing a truly varied selection for the artisan roaster – I’m particularly excited by their Ethiopian beans as it was this east-African country where I had my best cup. Their website includes the Legend of the Goat or how Ethiopian Kaldi discovered coffee is a nice touch.

This location is jump-starting its opening while the finishing renovations and installations are in progress.

On opening day seating had yet to arrive (note: the latter is expected today). And, for the moment coffee, tea and beans are the only items on offer. However, as per the Laurel St location, here too the menu will include fresh baked goods, food, a sandwich bar and varied treats once the kitchen equipment is connected.

Alongside international coffee expertise Happy Goat brings commitment to community as illustrated by their integration in the fabric of the Wellington West community.  We are overjoyed not only to have a local, local, coffeeshop but also to add a new vibrant member to our urban landscape.

Support Local and drink coffee –  Welcome Happy Goat!

Happy Goat Coffee – Sandy Hill
317 Wilbrod St. (corner Friel)
7:30am – 8pm

Sandy Hill Book Fair: Tomorrow 9-3

Head over to All Saints Church at the corner of Laurier Avenue & Chapel Street for the annual book fair tomorrow Sunday Nov 13th from 9am-3pm. See your neighbours, browse the books and have a great Sunday in the hood.

pmr-book-fair
click here for legible poster

Common Eatery: Offers uncommonly good fare

Town and Oz were followed by El Camino, Datsun then Pure and Whalesbone opened branches; Elgin street is experiencing a full-on foodie renaissance and it’s latest contender comes in the arrival of new-to-Ottawa gem Common Eatery.

Common EnMasse

enMasse adorns a wall of Common Eatery

The restaurant, which opened several weeks ago, is part of wider collective aptly named Common that includes the Common Concept Shop next door, Le Petit Salon and the Eatery itself only opens in the evening to operate as Morning Owl coffee during the day. The thinking here is an inclusive destination experience and what a pleasure to amble over to browse fashions between courses.

The Eatery fronted by a glass wall overlooking the pedestrian-favorite strip is casual urban-chic with impressively simple design details.  Polished teak chairs flank long shared tables, a bar runs down one side of the restaurant with brushed gold stools from which you can watch mixologists and chefs work their craft. White walls are minimally adorned by internationally renown graffiti artists enMasse (wow!) while oversized wheel-lights hang heavily overhead creating an relaxed loft cum resto effect. Even the well appointed toilets get some clever art that carries the ambiance gracefully throughout.

To the fare: skillfully constructed drinks, paired with a delicate yet ferociously flavoursome menu served at a price point reflective of Montreal and Toronto rather than Ottawa’s frequently overvalued offerings.

Common Some Ting Lemonade

Some Ting Lemonade & elegant teak seating

The cocktails ($9-13) are creative, colourful and complex.  With quality ingredients and skilled staff a well mixed, artistically presented concoction is assured.  There is a range of beers and ciders from $5-$8, a limited yet reasonable wine list and a flute of Veuve Cliquot (hurrah) is an absolute snip at $8.

The menu’s shared dishes are handsomely presented as much a treat to the eyes as to the palate. The varied flavours include seafood offerings, Asian bites, a Caribbean salad, southern vs Korean ribs and a fantastically artistic tenderloin.

Common Wontons

Flashed Wontons

Firm favourites around our table include the vegan Flashed Wontons ($6) –large stuffed wontons with a rich even meaty texture – a lovely and generous shared starter. The Toke salad ($8) offers a burst of fresh flavours with jicama fragrantly sweetened by mango and peppered nappa enhanced with a chilli-ginger vinaigrette and topped with crisp wontons and nuts – conclusion: we could eat a salad bowl full of this outstanding dish, we’ll be back for more and

Common Toke

Toke Salad

surely trying to recreate a version at home.

Squid Ink Ravioli ($12) gets full marks for presentation but was one of the less overwhelming plates with the lobster filling needing greater seasoning however the Crab Cakes ($11) were a resounding win making this late 90’s dish a new star for 2016 in Ottawa. Each delicately fried bite was rich with luxurious crab meat and the accompanying aromatically flavoured mayo a perfect complement. The Scotch-Egg ($6) light, gooey and topped with chorizo was one of the best I have had in the capital. A meaty challenge, the 2-Way Ribs ($12) pitted Louisiana vs Korea in double-header that will delight any carnivore.

Common Ravioli

Squid Ink Ravioli

If this first visit is anything to go by –  and we will be back to ensure the extraordinary quality and price point remain – then rest assured that Common Eatery is uncommonly brilliant and an outstanding choice for a quality evening.

 

 

 

Common Eatery
380 Elgin Street
Monday – Sunday 5PM-Late

 

Fringe 2016: AborAmor

Join Ottawa Stilt Union (OSU) on the Tabaret Hall lawn at Ottawa University for a wordless play cum acrobatic-dance performance that features comedy, love, stilt walking, an accordion player and a towering tree.

ArborAmor1

You’ve likely seen OSU at countless Ottawa events including Canada Day Celebrations as they stride athletically around events engaging with the crowds and delighting kids but they a troupe with many talents; most notably producing quality plays – bilingual and unspoken – hosting the monthly “Youppi Club” at varying central venues across the capital, and delivering acrobatic and stilt walking classes.

AborAmor as the name suggests plays on the themes of romance and nature as two tango dancers struggle to expand their duet to a threesome. Will jealousy rule the day or can love win out? Get yourself down to the lawn of University of Ottawa’s Tabaret Hall for this Ottawa Fringe outdoor performance suitable to all ages, engage with the performers and be enchanted by the whimsy of OSU and AborAmour.

Note as well as a 6PM performance on Friday there are two matinee performances on the weekend perfect for children of all ages.

Ottawa Fringe Festival 2016
ArborAmor
Tabaret Lawn, 550 Cumberland at Laurier/Wilbrod
30 minutes |Comedy | Play/Dance |Family
Friday June 24, 6PM
Saturday June 25, 2PM
Sunday June 26, 3:30PM