The Whalesbone Bank
Fish and Chips at The Whalesbone Bank
The Whalesbone Bank
The Whalesbone Bank
The Whalesbone Bank
The Whalesbone Bank
The Whalesbone Bank
The Whalesbone Bank
The Whalesbone Bank
The Whalesbone Bank
The Whalesbone Bank
The Whalesbone Bank
The Whalesbone Bank
The Whalesbone Bank
The Whalesbone Bank
The Whalesbone Bank
The Whalesbone Bank
The Whalesbone Bank
Salmon at The Whalesbone Bank
Caramelized Lunenburg Scallops at The Whalesbone Bank
Oysters at The Whalesbone Bank
Foods from The Whalesbone Bank

2009 Apr 17
This place has long been on our wish list, and we finally made it, on a Thursday evening. We sat on barstools by the kitchen, which proved to be quite comfortable, and a good vantage point. It was quiet when we arrived at 6, but soon became quite busy and fairly noisy, but not overwhelmingly so - actually a great atmosphere. Service was efficient, and very friendly and helpful.

We started with a selection of the smaller oysters (all west coasters at the moment). We are relative oyster neophytes, so all I can say is they were well presented, and very tasty. For mains, we had the BC wild albacore tuna (tartare style) and the wild Alaskan sockeye salmon, both very good. The salmon was perfectly cooked and very moist - since sockeye is lower in fat than Atlantic salmon (which is a no-no for supporters of sustainable seafood, btw), it's a good test of a kitchen's mettle, and they passed with flying colours.

We finished off with the two "sweet plates" on the menu, the lemon cake and the "grown up smore", both quite delectable. Good coffee, too.

My only quibble is with the wine service by the glass. The glasses used were fairly small, short, and heavy (same as used for water, actually), and they were filled close to the brim. Not ideal for swirling and sniffing. To their credit, they did offer tastes of the wine without any prompting from us, and the wine selection is pretty good. I didn't get a chance to talk to any management types, but I'll be dropping them an email about the need for better glassware, and, of course, will take the opportunity to mention that they need to offer the Take Home the Rest service!

Anyway, count me in as a fan... I'll be back, and I'll be patronizing their retail outlet too. Sustainable seafood rules!

2009 Mar 13
It was my first time at Whalebone last night. I had wanted to try it for a while.

The space is small (rectangular), the tables are tight, and the kitchen is open (also small) but has an excellent ventilation system. The music gets louder as the night progresses, hence so does the chatter.

The menu is simple -- just a few selections for small plates, medium plates and large plates (three to four each).

I started with two raw oysters (I asked my server to choose since I am not much of a connoisseur). They were both very good - very fresh in both quality and taste.

I also ordered a cup of the Chowder, while my companion ordered a bowl. I expected it to be creamy but it was more broth-y. Absolutely delicious! A lovely melange of salmon, lobster, thinly sliced leeks, diced potatoes and what they call 'corn pickles' which tasted like corn roasted in mustard (SO tasty!). I'm sure there were other ingredients in the chowder which I wasn't able to clearly identify.

For my main, I ordered the Smoked Trout Pot Pie. The dish was creamy and quite good. It came with a side of wonderfully seasoned Swiss chard. My friend ordered the Hand-Picked Scallops. She said they were very good. For my money, I would probably not order that dish even though the method of harvesting those scallops is so much more sustainable than the commonly used ones. That's the problem -- we get so accustomed to large portions with little regard or thought to how they came to be on our plate, that we don't appreciate the food that comes from methods that don't harm the environment or are cruel. (Just a little side-note of shame to myself)

To end the night, we shared the Spring Honey Lemon Cake which came with a little dollop of gelato (I think). The flavour and smell of the honey were a bit too strong for my liking, but the dessert was still tasty.

2009 Mar 2
Been here a few times once while Vardy was still there once after. Both times it was amazing. Best Oysters in the city. Great wine. Great mains. Can not wait to go back. Although due to price not a place I can go to monthly but AT LEAST once a year!

2009 Feb 5
I recently returned and really enjoyed myself again.

Excellent beers; the draught Steamwhistle and Beau's were fresh and fantastic. The Whalesbone Caesar comes with an oyster and fresh horseradish and I can say it is one of the better Caesers in town...

The foie gras tart is my favourite dish in the city, bar none, and I think the value is excellent at 15$. I really hope the new chef keeps it on it is just fantastic.

I love the tongue and can't turn it down for $7. I really feel that this is something almost anybody would like if they didn't know what it was beforehand.

The Lobster bisque was a new item for me, it was very good but I would be tempted to call it a seafood bisque...just to be picky. It has great flavour and consistency, but as it has mussels and mackerel in it the lobster flavour is comingled with the others and muted somewhat. Also the mackerel is a bit strong, I love it, but be forewarned if you don't love strong-flavoured fish.

Also tried the fish cakes, they are beautifully presented, taste great, wonderful texture and I was impressed with the celeriac slaw that was underneath.

All in all a great night and I would recommend it to anyone.

2008 Dec 12
How have I not written a review yet? Ever? Sheesh!

Last weekend marked the . . . maybe fifth time we've been to Whalesbone.

Started off with a dozen oysters (Beausoleil (gigantic and East coast) and Outlandish Gems (tiny and West coast)), and a glass of the French Muscadet they have on offer by the glass. Fantastic as expected.

I think I've really come around to the minimalist approach to oyster consumption: I like a spritz of lemon, a bit of that lovely fresh grated horseradish, and the wine it's washed down with. The mignonette's good and all, but it seems to make things less oyster-like.

(One exception to my "minimalist approach" is that I quite enjoy rinsing the shells out with Scotch and drinking that. Yum.)

After that we split two small plates and a large one: the pickled beef tongue, the fish cakes, and the cassoulet. Couldn't ask for much else: the beef tongue was tender, unctuous, and perfectly matched with the smoked tuna aioli; the fish cakes were crisp and flavourful; and the cassoulet was deliciously pork belly-fish-lobster-beany good.

I ordered a glass of Grunderloch Riesling (same thing I got the last time I was at Allium). Delicious complement for all three dishes. That's one thing I do like about the Germanic Rieslings: they're so versatile.

Dinner came to about $130 before tip, so it's a wonderful big-but-not-too-big treat.

One of these days I *will* buy oysters to go, and have a fantastic dinner at home.

2008 Dec 1
Went last Friday (Nov28) for a birthday dinner.

Had reservations, place was pretty packed at 830, boisterous with loud (and good) music. Not a common occurrence in Ottawa, and in my opinion, we need more places like this that remind you that there are actually young people in this city and not everyone goes to bed at 9 ;)

Started with oysters and pints of Steamwhistle. Both were excellent and very fresh. I was pleased that we could get a nice sampling of oysters from all regions in Canada (including some fist sized monsters from BC). The big ones are only for the very brave, I ate one in a single go with some chewing and it was a bit of a challenge for me, and my personal motto re: food is "the grosser, the better". However, I saw couples ordering entire plates of the really big ones so I think that they must be something which you can acquire a taste for.

We then split three of the apps. Pickled beef tongue was excellent, I enjoyed the combo of the smoked tuna aioli and the very tender slices of tongue. I admittedly thought this was a strange pairing at first but it worked.

Secondly, the ricotta gnocci was very good. Rich lobster cream sauce, fluffy gnocchis with deep fried sage leaves and thick slabs of crispy bacon (aka chorizo on the menu...not really in my humble opinion) on top. I enjoyed these, they were best when eaten right away and still quite hot.

Finally, the best dish of the evening was clearly the foie gras tart. Thick slabs of salted foie gras topped with smoked chicken and pickled wild garlic. Very fluffy pie crust. Reduced balsamic added a perfect touch of sweetness. Every bite was a delight, one of my favourite dishes I have tried in my 18 months in Ottawa.

After this we were nicely satiated (not stuffed) and we were pleased with our choices. I will go back and give the mains a shot in the future, but honestly after this experience I feel like i need to try all the apps first!

I would recommend this place in a minute. The above was about 90$ + tip so it is not cheap, but I can say I felt that it was a very good value. Menu is limited, which is the confident and proper way to do things in my opinion.

2008 Aug 27
one of my best vegetarian experiences in Ottawa. Took the missus out for her b-day, she of the never met an ocean dweller she wouldn't try once ilk (but also v. discriminating on its preparation), and me half-hoping to get an ok-ish pasta dish out of the deal. One doesn't, after all, necessarily go to an oyster bar looking for vegetarian nirvana.

Our server listened attentively to my preferences, delivered those to the kitchen, and what the chef(s) arrived at far exceeded expectations. My main consisted of three "constructions" of different vegetables, a green-bean concoction in the middle, flanked by a potato mound on the other and something else to the left (can't remember, except it was great!). Each came enhanced w/ their own sweet/salty drizzles, garnishings (e.g., sprigs of shiso), and further augmented w/ savoury nuts / cheeses--think 2 yr old cheddar on one, sauted walnuts on another, thinly sliced almonds on the third. The range and blend of tastes was amazing, but best of all, these served to accent rather than overwhelm the vegetables, themselves obviously fresh & perfectly prepared. Further, it was a substantial portioned main: even with the b-day girl poaching liberally from my plate (it was her day, afterall), the nutritional complexity of the nuts and cheeses made for a very satisfying meal. I felt like it was my birthday!

echoing comments made by others, the ambience at WB is also noteworthy: attentive but laid-back staff, diverse in patronage (suits at one table, black t-shirts at another), music playing from a turn-table.

A splurge (for us), but well worth it and that's without even needing to say anything about their mainstays, the oysters / fish! (They were great, she assured me.)

2008 Jul 29
My dining companion and I had a very enjoyable meal here on Saturday night.

We had made reservations for 8:00 and it's a good thing we did. The place is tiny! But it's also a great atmosphere. It's loud and convivial and very laid back. It may be a bit too casual for some of the 'finer' diners, but we liked it a lot.

The service was friendly and efficient. The food took an appropriate amount of time and our water glasses were well tended to.

I was impressed with the food. We ordered 2 appetizers and 2 mains. Apps were the tuna tartare (good, but maybe a bit bland) and the foie gras (very nice flavour and came with a really neat rhubarb compote). Mains were the perch and the 1/2 loster and pork belly combo. We each sampled each other's dishes and concluded that everything was very good. Nice presentation too, as an extra touch.

The drinks were good too. I had an oyster caesar and they actually put a good amount of spice in it!

The price was a bit steep: about $115 + tip for 2 apps, 2 mains and 2 drinks, but we did leave feeling good about the experience, so no complaints!

I'd go back (especially since it's about 2 blocks from where I live) and try the scallop sashimi appetizer (looked really good on another table) and get the lobster for myself!

2008 Feb 17
A lovely place for people wanting a new and different dining experience. Me and my boyfriend had never done the oyster thing and this was a perfect introduction. We decided to try the Whalesbone because the Ottawa magazine ranked it ‘one to watch’ with the new chef (Steve Wall), and as well they participated in a prix fixe for Winterlude. This included (each) 3 fresh oysters with sauces, an Appetizer, Entrée and dessert for $45! This place has immediately been put in my top 3 because of the great food and food knowledge and the interesting staff. I must say, the sauces that accompany the oysters are brilliant. It makes me want to have a different oyster with a different sauce to taste each and every aspect. I ended up buying their Red Wine and Peppercorn sauce to try at home. So much fun!
Such an amazing oyster bar.
look for our review later at

2007 Dec 17
Visited tonight with my Mum and was really, really impressed. My first experience with oysters, and the passionate staff made it a fun introduction. I also had the crusted salmon, with mini gnocchi and some squash puree. The presentation was beautiful, and the many flavours really complimented each other in nice, and interesting ways. Cool, unpretentious atmosphere, relaxed staff.. wicked all 'round.

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Oysters 4


2007 Sep 15
FINALLY went and tried not only oysters for the first time, but caught Vardy on his last night in Ottawa!
I asked the server which oysters I should try being my first time and she suggested one from the east coast (PEI) and one from the west. The bigger one on the left in the pic is west and the smaller east. I tried the east first and it was smooth and the texture creamy almost. Then I tried the west and it was completely different than the PEI oyster. West was 'fishy' tasting and had a grainy texture. Both were good but I definitely preferred the east coast oyster.


2012 Jan 14
I chose the fish and chips for my lunch, as it is a kind of gold standard for any seafood restaurant. In keeping with the rustic style of this restaurant, it was served in a beaten up metal dog bowl of a plate -- a little too whacky for my taste considering the $17 price point.

I had high expectations for the fish and WOW did it deliver! Incredibly moist and succulent, with a perfect shell of crispy tangy batter. Certainly some of the best fried fish I've encountered anywhere. The only downside is that there were just three tiny fingers of it on my plate.

As for the chips, they were not my thing. Thick wedges of potato, fried to a dark brown on the outside, but tasting like oven-roasted potato on the inside. It's probably just personal preference but I didn't see this as an improvement over pub-style chips. I even left some on my plate, which is something I never do! The smear of tartar sauce was totally unnecessary for the delicious fish, but it did help moisten the potatoes. The sweet pickled onions are also a nice touch if you're into sweet pickles (I'm not).

So overall, I'd go somewhere else for my fish and chips. But if you want to see how perfectly fried fish can be simultaneously moist and crunchy, this dish is worth a shot!


2007 Sep 15
This was my main dish. "Hot filicetti sausage, organic king eryngii mushrooms, pickled ramps and warm crushed heirloom tomatoes"
This was absolutely delicious!! The sauce, heirloom tomatoes, was so perfectly flavoured I wished I had some bread at the end of it so I could soak it up! I did find the scallops to be a touch overdone but nonetheless was still very good. The little sausages added a nice texture to every bite.


2007 Sep 15
My bf ordered the Potato Crusted Red Spring Salmon which was described as "Organic young beets, pea shoots, "broken" soy-chevre-truffle sauce". The server asked how he would like it done and suggested that it should be medium rare but my bf not eating fish/seafood alot opted to have it done medium. He totally LOVED it! He couldn't stop saying how good it was and him being a lover of beets just couldn't get over how delicious it all was. I tried a bite of the salmon and yes, delciousness! The potato crust was perfect.

Steak -1



2007 Jun 22
I can't comment on their oysters, but I had their angus steak in a pepper sauce last week. It was about $35 and fantastic. Much more flavourful than the the pepper steak at Hy's, presented in a more appealing way, and at 2/3s the price.