I’d heard of Town over the past year since moving to Ottawa, but along with it’s very good reputation came the concept of “reserving weeks ahead” which sort of scared me and enticed me at the same time. Well, having my parents visit from Vancouver got me into “tour-guide” mode and also re-ignited my deep and plentiful love for food and wine.
I reserved about two weeks ahead and was promptly impressed with the friendly person on the phone. They are clearly a popular establishment as they call to ensure you are actually coming for your reservation on the day of, asking for a call back. We went on a wednesday night and it was jam-packed.
Long, narrow restaurant. Patrons looking very relaxed and there’s a certain buzz in the air. The servers are wearing a casual black shirt and jeans. Not pretentious. The chalk board menu largely sprawled across one wall is simple, yet presents a variety of options. The mouth watering begins.
Artisan breads served fresh. Water refilled as often as needed without the feeling of overbearing service.
Octopus appetizer: best octopus/squid/seafood appetizer I have had in my life. This is coming from a girl that has indulged in ceviche on the coastline of Miraflores (Peru), gobbled down pounds of BC fresh seafood over the course of her years in Vancouver, and has tried calamari dishes in BC, Ontario, New York and Argentina with her cooperative and food-loving hubby. This octopus was so tender it was almost as if cooked sous-vide and then grilled so the outside was slightly blackened and crunchy. Mixed greens, fingerling potatoes, and a pesto-type sauce. Huge portions.
Grilled romaine appetizer: I’ve always wanted to try BBQ salad but worried it would be wilted and floppy. In other words, gross. Well let me tell you — best idea ever! Romaine head sliced in half and then grilled. Topped with a creamy blue cheese dressing, pecans and bacon bits. The smokey flavour comes through but doesn’t affect the texture because it’s the outside leaves that have been in contact with the grill. And they are still crunchy! *When I took my husband, Ryan, and brother Matt here .. they both really liked this. And Ryan isn’t really a salad guy. He repeated a few times how good the dish was.
Beef a la griglia: Oh. My. God. I never knew I loved short ribs without the bone that have been marinated for an insane length of time, cooked sous-vide and then grilled so the outside is crunchy. But apparently this is my type of food. Accompanied by delicious sides (a perfectly balanced grain and vegetable), this dish was something I would write home about. But in this day and age, I prefer just to email or take the person physically. So when my brother visited two weeks later I forced him and my husband to also have this dish. There were no complaints or regrets voiced. In fact the only things voices at the table during dinner were incoherent hmmms and mmmmms … Not a whole lot of conversation unless it was about how tender or flavourful the food was.
Wine: Get the primitivo red. It’s a grape that I’ve not tried, Italian. Really really good (and the cheapest wine on the menu – which works well for me!)
Summary: I will be back. Probably with whomever next decides to visit me in Ottawa. I feel like that’s my new thing. Being the tour guide and taking people to restaurants purely out of the goodness of my heart. Totally selfless. TOWN. I LOVE YOU, TOO (check out the website and you will understand what I mean).