We drove to Ottawa for a little R&R for the long weekend. It was anything but R&R! Lot’s of walking…so much walking. But it does keep the intake in check. And ‘in-take’ we did!!!
This was our adventure (Paul and T, we’ve already spec’d out a bunch of things to do when we do this trip!!!!)
Arrive noonish, drag our luggage into the hotel, the Indigo. Hotel room not ready. Drag luggage back to car. Head out to Ahora a Mexican Restaurant in Byward Market for lunch. Canada doesn’t have a lot of Mexican restaurants, so when we read about this one, we got excited! Not so much. Ahora: Overall rating: Decor 2/5, service 1/5, food 2/5 and Value 2/5.
Hotel calls, room is ready. So we drive back, drag the luggage back in and I check in while JT parks the car. 2nd floor room, facing the street (nice view), king bed, bathtub AND shower (check in lady mentions that this is a big deal!). Room next door to a family with three children. One screams at the top of their lungs. Not much sound insulation. Without even looking at me JT marches downstairs to change rooms. Bit of a hassle, but they finally find a room. Child screams 3 more times as I wait in the room. Teeth grinding. We chose this hotel because they tout is as a boutique hotel. Not so much. I would call it boutiqu-ISH, ISH being the operative. Cheap finishings, poorly insulated for sound AND it’s connected to the Mariotte which has a POOL. This place has FAMILY written all over it. Now I have no problems with families taking their kids on a hotel adventure, I just wasn’t expecting to be included – not really even having met them!
New room doesn’t have a view or a bathtub (only shower) but we seem to be the only guests on this side of the hotel, and it has a bed (it’s Valentine’s day after all!). It’s ultra QUIET. I am happy. Hotel Indigo Overall rating: Decor 2/5, service 3/5, Value 2/5.
We unpack and took a 25 minute cab ride (should have been 10 – Ottawa has traffic jams on Saturday????) to the Royal Canadian Mint. WOW! Wish it was running (they don’t work on weekends). They made all of the Olympic Medals, how cool is that? Each medal is completely and utterly unique, no two are alike! View this little video about Making the medals
Then we walked back to the hotel for cocktails! The walk wasn’t too bad, about 15 minutes and we were very fortunate that it wasn’t too cold (Ottawa can be as cold as -20° C in the winter!). There was a bit of wind, but we were shielded by the buildings! Along the way, we spec’d out our breakfast for the next day at Moulin de Provence. And we discovered that next time we’re in Ottawa, we will be staying on the Market side of the Canal!
We had dinner at Restaurant Eighteen, also on the other side of the Canal!. They tried to seat us in a ‘private’ area which would have been amazing had their not been a family with 4-6 ill mannered rug rats (what is it with kids on this weekend?). So we sat more in the front, which was nice to be where the action is! I had 6 BC Kusshi Oysters (not as tasty as the PEI oysters, in my humble opinion) and the steak tartar (with a quale’s egg) and JT had the Caesar Salad and their braised veal special. Don’t get me wrong, everything was fine, just not exceptional! Restaurant Eighteen Overall rating: Decor 4/5, service 3/5, food 3.5/5 and Value 3/5.
On our way back JT had previously spec’d out a bar that had live jazz and no cover at Zoe’s Lounge at the Fairmont Hotel, so we stopped in for a nightcap! It was lovely! We walked back to the hotel enjoying some of the Winterlude festivities.
Valentine’s morning we exchanged gifts. JT gave me some lovely perfume and I gave him a couple of CDs (Matt Dusk’s new CD and Michael Bublé’s new CD). JT also gave me a very touching card (I didn’t buy him a card – that was thoughtless!)
We walked to Byward Market for breakfast at Moulin de Province. We shared a ham and cheese crepe with bechamel sauce, bacon and potatoes and a chocolate baguette, we each had a unbelievably hot (Kim, you would have LOVED it) café latté – YUM YUM YUM!
After breakfast we drove to the Diefenbunker Museum, Canada’s Cold War Museum. I had no idea! Our PM Diefenbaker had a 20 million dollar, 10,000 square foot, four story underground bunker built in 1961-62 to hold 500 government personelle in case of a Nuclear War. Fortunately, it was never used, but we came pretty darn close a few times (kinda creepy HOW close we did come!)
It was way past lunch time by the time we finished our tour (partly guided and party self guided) so we headed back to the Market. We selected another dud for lunch, The Fish Market. We shared the Luncheon Maritime Platter of over cooked rubbery lobster, ice cold drawn butter, skinny little crab legs, mini jumbo shrimp (also cooked to a rubbery texture) mushrooms stuffed with bread and crab crumbs etc, Not worth it at all. We ordered a 1/2L of wine and the waiter gave us a full litre and didn’t even charge! At least we were in a good mood from the vino!!! Cheesy décor just added to the short comings. The Fish Market Overall rating: Decor 1/5, service 2/5, food .5/5 and Value -1/5. We should have stuck to our first thought, fish and chips (how can you go wrong with deep fried fish???)
We walked around the market. JT spotted an amazing little shop called Belle de Provence where I may have done a little shopping . We also found a great little Asian store where I picked up some Goji Berries and dried Cremini Mushrooms (I have a weird idea of souvenirs!). We walked through Winterlude to enjoy the ice sculptures and enjoyed a little Snow Taffy! See the full gallery here.
Dinner on Valentine’s Day was at Play (recommended by a Facebook friend, Edward Pond, a Toronto photographer specializing in food). We had an EXCEPTIONAL experience. We shared two items, the waiter, Patrick was amazing (he’s in TO this weekend to see the Raptors at the ACC so we gave him some restaurants to try). We started with the mixed charcuterie plate which was a lot of food, then we shared the mushroom blue cheese fritters / onion / grilled swiss chard – both were delicious and filling. Patrick brought us a dessert (on him) banana fritters / cardamon anglaise / chocolate sauce. A fantastic meal, only enhanced by the service! Good job guys. I filled out the comment card and the owner responded with an email: “I just wanted to thank you for dining with us at Play recently and for taking the time to share your thoughts with us. I’m thrilled that you enjoyed the service and your meal so much and I have passed along your compliments to the team.” How nice. Play Overall rating: Decor 4/5, service 5/5, food 5/5 and Value 5/5.
Monday morning we finally skated on the Rideau Canal. It was surprisingly smooth (they apparently flood it every night) and fortunately, not crowded or too cold – although there was a bitter wind which cut out skate down to 2 km!
Breakfast was at a really cool diner in the Market called Zak‘s. We didn’t share, but should have! LOVE their motto – Zak’s Don’t Starve!
I had a cheese omlette and JT had Zak’s Famous Big Breakfast and I had Zak’s Special Omlette. We both had the marble rye toast, I only got through half my breakfast and only one toast (HUGE). Zak’s Overall rating: Decor 4/5, service 3/5, food 4/5 and Value 4/5.
On the drive back we stopped in to see my 3rd cousin Laura in Belleville. She and I used to be pen pals when we were kids (she is my mom’s second cousin on her father’s side). It was great to meet her four kids (3 adults in University)! All in all a lovely long weekend. I would definitely recommend Ottawa.