The nation's capital is noted for many things, including politicians, iconic buildings, museums, and even the Senators. But right up there is its cuisine and, for my money, the pubs.
Consider that prime reason for going out with your workmates after a hard day at the office: wings. They are the ideal food to share with a group and the best bars and grills will serve them up with a variety of sauces that please the most timid or daring tastes. There's the mother of all sauces: the traditional Buffalo which uses a vinegar-based cayenne pepper hot sauce with butter. But our Ottawa hangout boasts a host of variations on this, and I've counted at least twenty sauces on its menu. The sauces range from Mild to Super Hot and they span the globe: from Cajun to Caribbean Jerk to Sweet Asian sauces. Some of the base components include honey, chili lime, garlic and dill.
The Best Pub Grub Includes Poutine!
When I'm winging it, I always order a side of that great Quebec classic – poutine. French fries, gravy and curd cheese – it's a mix made in heaven. It is hard to believe that poutine has only been around since the 1950s – it seems like such a natural combination. It began in rural Quebec and a number of communities claim ownership to the invention of poutine. Wherever it began, I'm eternally grateful it has crossed the river to Ottawa and ended up on my plate.
The pub we frequent has a variety of specials, for those rare days when I tire of wings and poutine. There's a Wednesday night Steak Sandwich and Premium Beer combo, the Friday night Wings and Ribs special, and the Saturday Back Rib special. And for Sunday lunch, I return to the basics and order ‘A Pint and a Pound' – that'd be a pound of boneless wings and an ice-cold pint of draught. But of course there are also the nights with the wings specials – Mondays and Tuesdays. My local has a Monday special of Wings
and a ‘Personal Pitcher' of draught; Tuesday night has Half-Price wings and fries, with a Garlic Dill sauce that is not to be missed.
Enjoy a Casual Atmosphere
There are actually other reasons to go out with the gang after work or the game. A good, casual bar is a great place to have fun, bond, relax, discuss work – or better yet, not discuss it. You need a convenient location and big screen TVs. My definite preference is for a smaller, more intimate bar: casual, relaxed, with a neighbourhood ambiance. It has to have a clean look and feel and not have that barn or factory feel that some of the bigger bars have. I like a cozy place and one where I won't spend my entire paycheck. Ottawa
has lots of upscale bars with attitude but, for my money, they don't come close to matching the good times you can have at a 100% proudly Canadian Bar and Grill that's as comfy as your living room – and one that happens to be full of friends, poutine and spectacular wings.