With Canada’s 150th birthday coming up, I started reflecting on what makes Ottawa so great. Actually, it was a comment made during cocktails with friends that really made me sit down and think about what made my city so awesome.
Acquaintance visiting Ottawa for the fist time: “So, guys! what’s the first thing I should do here in Ottawa?”
Friend: “Go to Montreal.” Laughs ensue.
After punching my friend, I told my acquaintance that there really are a lot of great things to do in Ottawa – one of which is to eat to your heart’s content. So, that little joke over Old Fashioneds inspired a blog series that I’m undertaking where I highlight my favourite tasty spots in Ottawa. Welcome to Deliciously Ottawa!
One thing Ottawa is rich in is fantastic restaurants. I travel a lot and one thing my husband and I love doing is exploring restaurants in new cities. What impresses me about Canada’s capital is that its restaurants are on par with other great cities such as Toronto, New York and Los Angeles.
The owners of the popular El Camino and Datsun restaurants on Elgin Street took over a grand Art Deco space on Sparks Street with the intention of opening a fine dining restaurant. The interior is gorgeous with its sky-high ceilings, walls covered in a soft, dove-grey fabric and beautiful architectural details such as heavy crown moulding and pillars. In addition, huge windows let in plenty of light to illuminate this moody space. At the far end of the restaurant, patrons are treated to a view of the bustling kitchen area.
Riviera is a so popular that reservations made weeks in advance are a must, but usually, you can secure a seat at the beautiful 70-foot long marble bar.
The bar is my preferred spot in the restaurant, actually. I’ll round up my crew after work and we’ll enjoy a couple of cocktails and appetizers. This is how I discovered my new favourite drink, the Sophia Loren.
I’m a lover of old timey cocktails with the Old Fashioned and Boulevardier being my top choices. When one of the friendly bartenders at Riviera suggested the Sophia Loren, I was all ears. A tasty cocktail made with Fernet blanc, Capo Capo Aperitivo, Cynar and sea salt, this beauty of a cocktail packs a punch with its depth of herbal flavours. And it’s served beautifully, like its namesake.
Everything on Riviera’s menu is delicious, creatively prepared without feeling pretentious. Since I’m always there for happy hour (you cannot beat the lively ambiance here), I’ll nab a couple of appetizers. So far, my favourites are the mushrooms on toast and beef tartare. Absolutely fantastic.
Riviera has recently launched their brunch service (finally!) and I will soon be lining up with others to experience some morning haute cuisine.
Have you been to Riviera? What did you think?
Riviera is located at 62 Sparks Street in Ottawa, Canada.
*Photography courtesy of Worn Leather Media