My lovely home city of Ottawa is known for its restaurants. Culinary delights can be found at every corner of the city. With no shortage of options ranging from high-end cuisine to Southern home cooking, Ottawa delivers.
One thing I’ve noticed though is that there was a gap to be filled when it came to healthy, fresh food options for those on the go. In addition, while there are some cafés and a ton of fast-food behemoths where you can grab fatty treats and sub-par coffee, there wasn’t really a place offering a relaxed vibe for those to gather, take a break and enjoy a great latté, healthy lunch and high-quality goodies that won’t send you into a diabetic coma.
During my travels to NYC, DC, Paris, London and Rome, there were a myriad of cool cafés to choose from. This is really evident too in Vancouver and Toronto where cool people of all walks of life congregated at gorgeous, laid back coffee houses. It wasn’t unusual to see actors studying their lines, groups of friends sharing laughs over some London Fogs, and people working quietly on their laptops in cafés that doubled as lounges.
This is where Origin Trade comes in – a very cool café lounge with an uplifted and elevated sense of style located at 111 York Street. Origin Trade looks like something that was lifted straight out of New York City and plunked into the Byward Market.
As I walked into this cool little café, I immediately knew this was going to be good. It was pretty evident that Origin Trade has an undeniable gravitational pull, attracting cool people of all ages from all over the city. Not a bar, not a coffee shop, Origin Trade identifies itself as a “café lounge”.
As I settled in to interview Origin Trade’s General Manager, Jay Andrews, I looked around and marvelled at the bright, cool space. Decorated in a such a way that it simultaneously gives off a warm, cozy vibe mixed with New York cool, I was pleased to see people of all kinds laughing and enjoying their meals.
Decorated in tones of grey and silver, it has a modern feel balanced with homey exposed brick walls and an aviation-themed decor. When you walk in, you are greeted with a living space that looked like somewhere Don Draper and Roger Sterling might relax with a couple of Old Fashioneds. With its masculine leather sofa and matching club chairs, I knew I had to bring my husband here immediately. He’d love this. The space opens up to the coffee bar and dining area with a large mural featuring the great Charlie Chaplin. If you look closely at Mr. Chaplin’s face, you’ll see that it is superimposed over an old map of the Byward Market. Beautiful touches like this abound here.
Jay greeted me and he fit right in with the space. A cool and lively guy, he explained to me how Origin Trade was born. Owner Denis Sabourin spent some time living in NYC and loved its “coffee vibe”. He wanted to bring that to Ottawa along with a genuine, modern feel. While developing the concept for the space, they took a “thinking outside the box” approach, pushing the envelope when it came to its interior design. This is really evident all over the café lounge, with its bucket chairs that look like they were made with spare airplane parts and bathroom light fixtures made of Crystal Head Vodka bottles. So cool!!!
You know what was really cool though? Something that I have yet to experience while interviewing a business owner? We were interrupted several times by patrons leaving to thank Jay for another great visit, and great meal, and great latté or dessert. They all made a point to stop by to let him know when they would be back for their next meal. How great is that? That’s a fantastic sign right there.
Jay went on to explain that on top of providing great fresh soups, sandwiches and salads made daily, they have a resident DJ that comes in each Friday night to spin awesome acid jazz beats. The DJ just so happens to also show clips of Fred Astaire dancing on the big screen, all synced to the beats of the music. The big screen, by the way looks like a giant gilt mirror, as they had it framed in a classic, ornate, golden frame. All class!
I was lucky enough to sample the delicious Market Salad, made of arugula, quinoa, grape tomatoes, baby cucumbers, pickled red cabbage, hummus and chunks of roasted chicken topped off with homemade sweet garlic balsamic vinegar) and a glass of Sandbanks Sauvignon blanc which complemented the salad perfectly. It was quite literally a flavour explosion, as I hadn’t had veggies that fresh and flavourful in a while (it’s been a long winter).
I’m a total wine fanatic, so I immediately gravitated to their fresh, crisp and wonderfully dry Ontario sauvignon blanc. Those who prefer the suds can opt to choose from the local brews Origin Trade offers such as Beau’s, Beyond The Pale, Muskoka and Somersby to whet the palate.
To say that my experience at Origin Trade was “enjoyable” is the understatement of the century. Everything about the place is great, right down to my meeting with Jay, which felt more like sitting and enjoying laughs with an old friend.
I’ll definitely be returning to Origin Trade and will be bringing my friends with me. Perfect place to chillax, enjoy great food and great company!
Have you had the pleasure of visiting Origin Trade? If so, let me know what you enjoyed in the comments!