For our anniversary this year, Shawn and I decided to visit Ottawa. It’s one of our
favourite cities and we’d never been in the summer, so I was excited to get
back. Several of my wonderful Twitter friends helped me decide where to go
and what to do on our visit and, as usual, we weren’t disappointed by our crowd-sourced adventures.
As regular readers know, Shawn is typically the DD on our wine trips. He likes a glass or two with dinner, but he’s happy not to imbibe so
I can discover new wines without worries about driving. He’s really more of a
beer lover, so as his anniversary gift I treated him to visits to some of Ottawa’s many great craft
beer brewers. I used Sheltered Girl Meets World’s excellent post on beer tourism in Ottawa
to plan our brewery visits and I highly recommend this resource to any other brew lovers visiting the
Our first stop was Big Rig Brewery, which is just about in
the suburbs of Ottawa,
but was easy to get to on our way in. We loved the vibe at this restaurant and
the wings were super tasty. Shawn had a glass of the Scotch Ale with his lunch
and even after tasting several other excellent brews throughout the weekend, this turned out to be the best and his pick for the trip. I’d love to go
back here again, as we didn’t really have an opportunity to sample much on
their menu. They didn’t offer the Scotch Ale for take-home purchase, but we
were able to get a six-pack of one of their other brews to take back with us.
We chose Divino Wine Studio for our anniversary dinner and
that was a much different experience. This is a great place to do wine and
Italian food pairings and I enjoyed our meal and the atmosphere. We had made
reservations in advance, but still weren’t able to get one of the few tables
available, however, the communal seating situation here wasn’t too bad. The
staff is friendly, the food is good and the atmosphere is quite unique so I’m
glad we had the chance to eat here. Keep in mind that this is a pretty pricy
option, but worth it for a celebration.
The next day we did a double-decker bus tour – one of the
best ways to see all the great sites this city has to offer – and stopped off
at Byward Market. There’s a Montreal
bagel shop there that I absolutely love and I was glad to find that it was just
as good as I remembered.
We had dinner that night at Clocktower Brew Pub, in The Glebe
district. We stayed at the excellent Best Western on O’Connor near the Glebe
and I liked this much better than our previous hotels, which we chose because
they were in the heart of the city. I loved being so close to the restaurants,
nightlife and shops in the Glebe, plus it was only about a twenty minute walk to the more
tourist-heavy Byward Market and Parliament Hill areas.
Clocktower Brew Pub was the surprise of the trip for us. We
loved the food, which wasn’t fancy but just super tasty brew pub fare done really
well. Shawn also gave the beer a thumbs up, though we were disappointed that there
was none available for take-home purchase at this location. We’ll look out for
their Raspberry Wheat and Bytown Brown at the LCBO.
After dinner, we decided to walk to the Byward Market and
check out Hooch Bourbon House, which had just opened that week. I had learned
about them on Twitter via Foodie Prints and they sounded like a fun stop. We
weren’t disappointed! This was a relaxing spot to hang out, with wonderful
Southen-inspired décor and a menu full of bourbon to have straight or as a
cocktail. I would have loved to sample some of the food we saw coming out of the
kitchen (the chicken and waffles looked pretty amazing), but we were stuffed
from Clocktower. This is a place we will definitely visit again on our next
trip to the area.
Day three started with a long walk – much-needed
after all the food the night before. One of my Twitter friends had suggested that
we must check out SuzyQ donuts on this visit and our tourist map made it look
pretty close. Well, 45 minutes later we had seen some new-to-us areas of the
city and were more than ready for one of SuzyQ’s amazing donut treats. I had
the Earl Gray and Shawn had the Maple Bacon – we certainly weren’t complaining
about the walk while we were scarfing down these yummy treats.
While contemplating the route we’d take back, we ran into
Vicky (momwhoruns) in the parking lot! She was in town visiting her parents and
couldn’t miss a trip to SuzyQ. She gave us a lift back to the downtown core so
we could stop in for a visit at the Chateau des Charmes store. I love that
there is actually a CDC stand-alone store in Ottawa
and wish there were more of these across Ontario.
It’s a great idea.
We headed to Beyond the Pale Brewing to pick up some of
their craft brew (no fancy restaurants here, just a walk-up tasting bar and
growlers to go) and then to dinner at Union 613 with my other favourite Shawn (uncorkontario) and his lovely wife, Debbie.
It was so great to meet one of my friends from Twitter and discover that he is
just as fantastic in real life. Union 613, however, was
just OK. I loved the wine that Shawn selected – Cave Springs
The Adam Steps Riesling – and it’s a fun vibe, but the food was just alright. Maybe
Shawn and I have spent too much time enjoying fried chicken and grits in Savannah, but this was
just so-so in comparison.
Still, the company was fabulous and I’m so glad we got the
chance to spend some time with Shawn and Debbie. They are truly great folks who
have been a huge help in my wine education.
Shawn and I had planned to visit Cassel Brewery on our way
out the next morning, but a rain storm hit (many thanks to the weather
gods for keeping the predicted rain at bay until our very last day), so we’ll
put that off until our next visit. Our trip was fantastic and we can’t wait
to go back. We already have a list of places we didn’t get to that we need to
try, so I hope that visit is sooner rather than later.