On Capitals and Eating: A short trip report from Ottawa

There are great cities that happen to be national capitals. Cities like London and Paris are such places. Great food, great culture, great sites – a good time is had by all. Then there are national capitals that want to be great cities. Washington and Ottawa happen to fall into this category. Neither has the vibe/density/scene that London and Paris have, but they are trying. (And this is where my mother-in-law would add the phrase, “bless their hearts.”)

I happen to be in Ottawa a few weeks back and had some kick ass meals. First up, Murray Street – a charcuterie and wine bar. They bring much respect to meats – all of them. Anywhere that has an offal of the day as well as a whole pig head on the menu gets my vote any day of the week. It is a small place with a great feel. Highly recommend.

Next up – The Whalesbone Oyster House. Go. There. Now. Imagine a tiny restaurant embedded into an old bike shop. Forget open kitchen, the hot stations are actually in the seating area and the night we were there the a/c wasn’t working – forcing the staff into tank tops and shorts. Whalesbone is, as the name implies, an oyster and fish joint and it takes its ingredients seriously. If the amazing fish, oysters, and drinks doesn’t do it for you, then try this – when was the last time you went to a bar or restaurant where the music was provided by records? Two huge stacks of records behind the bar, from which Ray Charles, Abba, and Sam & Dave were pulled when we were there. The staff has been friends since high school and you can feel their love for the place in everything they do. Again – go there now!

Ottawa may be a somewhat sleepy capital but there are definitely some pockets of serious yum and fun to be had – I’ll be waiting until the spring to head back for oysters and offal.

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