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.
The 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 the 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!
207 Gilmour St.