Hello again! This restaurant review has been sitting in my “draft” pile for quite a few months, so alas … here goes (and better late than never, right?). You should know, too, that I will likely have more to add in coming months, given I plan to return several more times while we are still living downtown.
BREADS: So, I have been to Art-is-in breads twice now for sit-down meals (breakfast/brunch) and have also picked-up a variety of their breads and baked goods on a few other occasions (I dare you to try and leave empty handed. Seriously, it’s impossible). From my experiences so far, I can confidently say that Art-is-in has THE best bread I have had in … Ever? … It’s reliably incredible, never disappointing. Their jalapeño & cheese, potato & dill, garlic & rosemary and fennel loaves are all absolutely divine. My mom has even requested that I bring home a few loaves when I fly back to Vancouver, and we all know how many incredible bakeries are situated in the Lower Mainland … so I take this as a testament to the quality of the baked goods!
In addition to the amazing breads (which, BTW, are served in many of Ottawa’s trendy restaurants), Art-is-in boasts a vast array of other baked goods. Everything from cookies to scones to muffins to croissants … and I think they also offer up various mousses, cheesecakes, tarts and biscotti. I’d have to take a better look next time, as I can’t be sure – and I know I haven’t covered everything … It’s that overwhelming! They also offer a select few hot meals, including eggy breakfasts/brunches and a few specials (e.g. pasta, poutine, sandwiches) which vary all the time so you never know if you’ll be able to try that pulled pork shoulder poutine if you don’t snatch up the opportunity this time. Can you tell I once missed my opportunity?? Ryan still hasn’t forgiven me …
So here’s my two cents, beyond the bread review (which is kind of what they are known for, I think):
ALMOND CROISSANTS: These are better than the best almond croissants I have EVER had. And I have had many … trust me. I grew up in a house where we were truly spoiled with delectable baked goods (homemade and store bought). In fact, my mom used to (and probably still does) buy-out small bakeries of certain items if she knew we liked them (e.g. chocolate croissants from Patisserie Bordeaux, maple scones from Starbucks, etc.). I will say that prior to Art-is-in, my top two almond (or almond-chocolate) croissants were from the Thomas Haas bakery in Vancouver (these are dense and covered with almond slivers… So worth the $5!) and subsequent to relocating; from the Delice Royal in Orleans. Now, though, I would venture to say the Art-is-in croissant beats them both. Not by a whole lot, but sufficiently so that I’ve made the distinction. Yes, all three croissants are chock-full of almond/paste, buttery and rich. Yes, all three are made with dough that is perfectly flaky, not chewy nor dry … BUT, somehow Art-is-in’s croissant has the perfect combination – more filling than most, AND an exterior that is caramelized and crispy from the sugary almonds … Oozing out thick, buttery goodness that spreads and hardens into an extension of the croissant. The ratio of dough : filling: topping is BANG ON. Oh. My. God. Just try it.
HOT MEALS/MAINS: With respect to the warm food and “meal” items, I have unfortunately not been able to try things like the mac n’ cheese or the eggs and meatloaf (saw both of these on the menu once), because often their main dishes sell out (they are made fresh and change often). I have tried their quiche, which was good – light and fluffy, flavourful, but kind of over-priced and I tend to prefer the more dense varieties. In fact, I would say Delice Royal in Orleans has the best quiche (outside of my mom’s) that I’ve ever had. A few of my girlfriends tried the avocado grilled cheese one time (I stole a nibble, too), which I thought was a little disappointing; nothing else on the plate (no greens), made with somewhat plain pieces of wheat bread and not much in the way of cheese or all that plentiful with respect to the avocado. That being said, when I came with my parents the year before, we shared some sandwiches and cookies as well as a sticky-bun type thing, and everything was SUPERB (as well as slightly cheaper than it is now). The sandwich (tuna melt pictured below) was made on the amazing fresh-baked bread and was so full of goodies, and not too mayo-y (no, not a word, but it should be). Maybe that visit set me up to expect more of Art-is-in’s warm meals, and I was therefor kind of disappointed at my ladies’ brunch (though the company was great!). That being said, I did see other patrons ordering generous looking brunch plates with beautifully layered dishes of egg and meat and greens. So who knows … maybe I just ordered wrong! I’d still go back in a heart beat, so clearly it wasn’t that bad.
There you go. The end. Just kidding, I’ll give you what you really came here for: FOOD PORN! Just kidding, again. The photos are way too small to be considered porn-worthy … ha .. ha …