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The Week In Yum July 17-July 30 - Two Weeks Actually - Ottawa and A Taco Bus at the Eaton Centre

I am actually covering two weeks in my week in yum because I missed last week as I was busy being a tourist in Ottawa. I will be spending lots of time there this August and so I will be cooking less but eating out more as I travel back and forth to divide my time between The Kid and Shack.

Alysha Brilla and her kick ass female horn section

On Saturday, July 18 I had been invited to go down to Woodbine Park by Two Oceans to have a glass of wine and check out some music as part of the Jazz Festival. I hate big crowds so the chance to sit in the VIP area and watch the bands was an offer I could not refuse ( I love what the Jazz Festival does for my Beaches neighbourhood but I can't go myself). Along with some tasty beverages, we heard this amazing young Tanzanian Canadian singer/songwriter, Alysha Brilla 
Imagine Amy Winehouse if Amy Winehouse had a bit of a reggae vibe, was full of positive energy and light and taught yoga instead of drank lots of booze and wrote songs about self destructing.
We both LOVED her and you will too so go check her out.

I spent the rest of the week in Ottawa, eating and being good a Canadian tourist. I have to say, Ottawa is a really pretty city and a great place to visit in the summer time. The bike path along the Rideau Canal is gorgeous and although they don't have bixie bikes, they do have a brand new bike share program called VeloGo Bike Share. It's more expensive at $5/hr as opposed to Bixie's $5 for 24 hours but the bikes are brand new and it's in its infancy, so I downloaded the app and set off on my shiny, new green bike down the canal. We visited the War Museum and while Shack worked, I watched the changing of the guard, took a boat tour, rode my bike and just explored our nation's capitol.

I will spend the rest of the summer going back and forth from Ottawa, since the old ball and chain is working there so be on the lookout for lots of restaurant sharing. I will give more detailed accounts of the places I have been to and like so far next week, so for now, here are the places I have been happy with:

Ace Mercado

Ace Mercado is a trendy, Mexicanish joint in Byward Market is a great place for tasty cocktails and decent food. They are not the best tacos I have ever had but they are good and they have a half price deal where you can get a "flight" of tacos (4 different types, two of each) that is perfect for sharing over drinks.

Wilf and Adas

Wilf & Ada's calls themselves a "from scratch diner" and that would appear to be exactly what they are. I had a delicious corn/potato soup and Shack had that giant Dagwood Club Sandwich, full of real, roast chicken, bacon, chopped egg, crispy onions, cheese and honey mustard and mayo. It was so big and filling that he actually had to have the second halve wrapped up to take to work. 

Ola Cocina

On the map, it looked like this place was far from downtown but, in reality, Ottawa is so condensed that it was just over the bridge a few minutes drive east of Byward Market. A little blue house sits on the corner with tables outside and great, fresh food is being banged out in the small kitchen. Shack really loved his Huevos Divorciados - we both love a place that serves eggs all day, and my trio of tacos were also very good. The tortillas were clearly freshly made on site, both the pico de gallo and the salsa were also fresh and delicious. I will be back here for sure.

LowerTown Brewery 

I popped into Lowertown brewery not knowing what to expect since too many places in Byward Market seem happy to serve subpar, overpriced food to tourists but I had heard good things. Because I was alone, I only got to try a kale/sausage soup, which was delicious and tasted homemade and those really great, fat, potato wedges and a glass of cider. Based on that quick lunch, I will also be back here for a meal with the boys this coming weekend. 

RichTree Taco Bus

RIchTree Natural Market Restaurants operates a mini food court that occupies the southern food court of the Eaton Centre right by the Queen St exit. It looks like a regular food court, but, in reality, all of the different outlets are owned and operated by Richtree (they used to own Marche and so it's a very similar thing going on). It's a market style restaurant where you can go and each person in your group can eat what they like under the umbrella of one parent restaurant - I get some tacos, The Kid can grab sushi and Shack can have pizza, pay together and all sit together and eat. Despite offering traditional food court fare, Richtree endeavours to use all natural, in season ingredients so it's elevated food court dining.

When they decided to add a Mexican menu, they wanted to something a bit different so, instead of just putting it in another stall, sandwiched between the sushi and the juice bar, they dissected a 2,500 lb VW microbus and had it moved into the Eaton Centre where it was put back together and turned it into a taco bus and it is ADORABLE. Okay, a cute concept is important but if the food is not up to snuff, what's the point?

I am happy to report that the food is good. I tried guacamole (absolutely fresh, simple, delicious guacamole), a spicy chicken taco, a fish taco, a chipotle beef taco and a chicken burrito. I will order that fish taco every time I am forced to shop at the Eaton Centre from now on. The fish is crispy, not greasy, the slaw is crunchy and  Executive chef, Andre Walker was formerly the Corporate Chef for Pusateri's before moving on to the Distillery Restaurant Corp, where he was responsible for overseeing four restaurants including El Catrin, so he knows a thing or two about tacos. 

Like the guacamole, the tacos taste fresh and natural and can stand up against most tacos served in the myriad of trendy taco places scattered about the city. The flavours are a bit more muted than I would like but they have to appeal to a wide audience so, although I would prefer more chipotle in the chipotle beef, I understand and there is lots of Mexican hot sauce for those of us that like more of a kick to our Mexican food. 


-          Pollo Chilorio (Chicken)
o   Pollo chilorio, black bean puree, xni pec, cilantro, green onion, cotija
-          Chipotle Braised Res (Beef)
o   Chipotle braised res, salsa verde, pickled onion, cilantro, cotija 
-          Hearts of Palm (Veggie)
o   Orange and guajillo hearts of palm, guacamole, chipotle mayo lettuce, pickled onion, cilantro, cotija
-          Baja (Fish)
o   Crispy fried cod, beer batter, chipotle lime dressing, coleslaw, cilantro
All tacos are $3.69 each or three for $9.99.

-          Pollo Chilorio
o   Pollo chilorio, black bean puree, xin pec, gouda, lettuce, chipotle mayo and rice
-          Chipotle Braised Res
o   Chipotle braised res, salsa verde, Oaxaca, rice, lettuce, cilantro and chipotle sauce
-          Hearts of Palm
o   Orange and guajillo hearts of palm, rice, guacamole, pickled onion, cotija, cilantro, lettuce and orange aioli
All Burritos are $9.99 each.

I attended a media preview and got to taste all of my food without charge and, of course , my opinions are absolutely my own

The Grover

I just want to give a shout out to my local pub, The Grover. We started going to The Grover when we first moved to this place and I was pregnant. Every week we went for wing night and played trivia and after The Kid was born, we continued to go all the time with baby in tow. At some point, there was a fire and it closed down for a long time and after it finally reopened, it was never really the same. The food was never as dependable and we slowly stopped going.

Fast forward to a year or so back, new owners took over, started serving a huge array of craft beers, totally revamped the menu and added fun theme nights like Karaoke night, a "choir" night where people can sit around and sip beer and basically engage in a sing a long, which becomes more appealing the older I get.

I am happy to report that after a bumpy start, the food is fast becoming consistently good pub grub (have to be honest, I just sent back my salmon last night because it looked like hospital food and was bland and boring so just stay away from the salmon). The burger on the pretzel bun is a good bet, as are the wings, fries are crispy, most of the daily soups have been good and the beer selection is excellent. Again, this is good pub grub so don't go expecting earth shattering cuisine but for crispy hot wings and a pint of Beau's while you sing old Beetle songs, you can't beat it in the Beach.

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