Wow-wow-wow. I often talk about not having anywhere decent to eat near my work and this little gem was hiding quietly in the background the whole time. I knew it was there, I've bought yummy seafood from the market side. What I didn't know was how great the restaurant was. A gentleman I often do work with has a very talented wife who is a chef there and invited me to come give it a try. And try I did!
The store itself has been there since 1978, and the grill got added in 1996. From what I could tell, they've got a pretty hardcore clientele that know and love the consistency of their simple, yet amazing dishes. Online they label themselves as an unpretentious seafood bistro, and that is EXACTLY what they are. The walls serve as a gallery for humorous shots of the owner, his family and the rest of the staff posing with seafood. So real, and immediately gives you the sense that you're dining in their home. And you pretty much are (being a family-owned business).
Warm buns from Bagel Bagel are delivered first and foremost to eliminate any hunger pangs while you peruse the menu.
I was then served a plate with a sampling of each of their in-house smoked fish – gravlax, Steelhead trout, hot and cold smoked salmon. Although all were seductively smokey, my heart melted when I sunk my teeth into the hot smoked salmon. Best news of all? I could pick some up in their store to bring home on my way out.
A hillock of seasonal favourites formed the Autumn salad. Golden and red beets beautifully roasted, flash-fried slivers of parsnip, so crispy and fun, roasted pecans, juicy dried cranberries and Stilton cheese vinaigrette.
My main was the ideal comfort dish for fall. Grilled Blacks Harbour salmon took up half the plate, along with slivers of fresh, crisp veggies. On the other side, a giant seared bay scallop sat perched on top of a heavenly lobster risotto. Cooked slightly al dente – just the way I like it – the risotto was filled with chunks of meaty lobster. The plate was beautiful to look at, especially the piece of lobster resting over the scallop, which was shaped like a fish. Whether that was intentional or it just happened that way I'm not sure, but I liked it!
I didn't plan to fall in love that afternoon. But when he showed up, any voice, noise or goings-on around me vanished. He and I became one. His name was Maple. It was tough to do, but once I broke through his glossy, candy-coated exterior, a blissfully silky smooth interior was revealed. Every bite so perfectly sweet and creamy. I've never enjoyed a crème brûlée so much. I blame it on the maple.
Believe it or not, I ate all of this over lunch. Their generous portions however, made me send a few uncleaned plates back to the kitchen. Except for the dessert, I licked that one clean!
Fantastic, fun service and very reasonable prices – apps range from $5 to $9 and mains from $11 to $16 – make this place a definite winner in my book. And I'll be back again!
1500 Bank Street, Ottawa