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b/Side 3

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See also: Benitz Bistro
Wine bar beside Benitz Bistro, owned by the same chef, Derek Benitz. Specializes in small plates and wine.

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Foods from b/Side

Comments

2010 Jul 25
I've been here four times over the past year, and it is turning out to be one of my favourite places for a nice but informal meal.

As others have mentioned, the decor is very smart: Modern, classy, comfortable, and surprisingly quiet. No need to yell here to be heard.

Service is...interesting. Some might find it overly informal and, at times, a bit haphazard. But I find it genuine and charming.

Food is solid: The menu is relatively limited (maybe 15 small plates), but it changes frequently. Even picky eaters would be able to find at least a couple of plates to their liking. Dishes are simple but well-executed.

The wine list is small but excellent, with a focus on some unique good-value offerings.

2010 Jul 1
A girlfriend and I checked out b/side last week. The first thing I noticed was it's stunning decor - inside and out. First off, it's in a really neat spot between Bank and O'Connor on Somerset, and the architecture there is fabulous, plus it is close to everything downtown Ottawa. There's a patio surrounded by opaque cloth panels to segregate the patio from the street, for some privacy - it looks kind of weird from the outside, but it's actually pretty classy once you're in there, good use of space. When we went it was raining, however, so we headed for a table inside, where there are a few (3-5, couldn't tell) "rooms" separated by the same type of material panels, creating the illusion of lots of small rooms... very cool (check their website for an idea)! Unfortunately it does nothing for sound, so it being a busy night and raining it was pretty loud in there. All in all though, really great atmosphere!
The food was good, but expensive - as previous posts have alluded to, it's very high quality stuff and probably larger portions than most "small plates" places, but you pay for it with wine... I have a hard time paying 10$ + for a glass of wine! Good wines, there's no denying, but it would be nice to see a cheaper wine flight or decently priced half-litres to split between 2-3 people.
We were STUFFED between the mushroom crostini, the cheese plate (with waaaaaaaaaay more cheese than I expected! and gooooooood....), the calamari (also a huge portion!) and the salmon gravalax. In retrospect, the trio of salads probably would have been smarter (health-wise, price-wise, not-getting-stuffed-wise) - someone at the table beside us ordered it and it looked delicious, beet salad + tropical salad + some other leafy salad, and I believe it's one of the cheaper items on the menu. I would recommend 3 plates to 2 people, 4 is too many (unless you come with a huge appetite!).
Service was excellent, very laid back but attentive, polite, asked us about the "pace" of the meal - so if you're looking to a slow, leisurely meal you can have just that, or if you need to be somewhere afterward that's doable too!
Overall, excellent ambiance and great food, though pricey. I wish more great food places in Ottawa let you bring your own wine (and you pay the corking fee) - that or that a less upscale wine bar would give places like this (Taylor's, Play, Fourth Ave) a run for their money...

2009 Aug 10
Finally, dessert - this is called a rhubarb "purse" (rhubarb filling in a pastry crust), and vanilla ice cream. I asked the waiter what would pair well with my final glass of wine (the petite syrah) and he suggested this. I was surprised to have a dessert recommended but generally I'm game for anything.

I think my final bill was around $50 before tip - for three glasses of wine, two salads and dessert I was quite happy.

I will definitely be going back to b/side.

2009 Aug 10
Duck salad. I love duck, but find most restaurants drown it in too-sweet sauces. This was not drowned in sauce, and as a result I enjoyed it thoroughly! Paired nicely with the grenache :)

2009 Aug 10
Beet salad with blue cheese (oh my gosh this blue cheese - it was divine), candied walnuts, and on the side of the plate one of my friend's mushroom crostinis. The salad was very well done, lovely and fresh, and the crostini was delicious.

2009 Aug 10
Went here for dinner on Saturday with a friend. I have decided that I adore small plates places! I get to have something of everything without feeling stuffed, and without feeling ripped off. The food was delicious, the atmosphere wonderful (we sat on the patio and it was a lovely warm summer evening - the white 'screen' between the patio and the street is a fabulous touch), service was "attentive but unobtrusive" to steal BDM's description.

Picture is of that evening's "flight of the night" - an Ontario Gamay Noir (sadly not the baco I was looking forward to though), an Australian Grenache, and a California Petite Syrah. All were delicious!

2009 May 28
We came here on a whim on the Sunday of the long weekend. I'd been meaning to come for some time. We'd already eaten dinner, but wanted to go out somewhere for some wine.

When we arrived, we were the only ones in the dining room, aside from a party in the back. I loved the decor - the etched glass over the mirror and the wine bottles underneath the bartop.

We both ordered a 3 oz. of the Sandbanks Riesling to start. I was excited to see it on the menu, as I've been wanting to expand beyond Niagara/Pelee Island VQA wines. Mr. Nanookie ordered the 'Flight of the Night' - three 3 oz. pours of red wine, for a dollar less than the cost of the three pours if you were to order them separately. He ordered the cheese plate and had a great time mixing and matching the different cheeses, chutneys (onions, orange and another one), nuts and wines. He felt the cheese portions were small, but that the chutneys that accompanied the plate made up for it.

I ordered a 6 oz. glass of Chianti and the olive plate. The olives were nothing special, but went nicely with the Chianti.

For dessert I ordered the Cassis cheesecake. It was served in a square ramekin, with cassis mousse topped with lemon curd and a thin slice of white chocolate. It was fantastic!

We were served by Brett - he was very friendly and attentive, especially given that there were so few people there. He came over to chat with us every so often, but was not overbearing or intrusive.

We'll definitely be back to B/Side. It's great to have a wine bar that's within walking distance of home!

2009 May 13
We had a leisurely lunch here, and came away impressed. Although the patio was open, we opted to sit inside, where it was comfortable and quiet.

We started by sharing the mushroom crostini, which was very tasty indeed. We then shared two of the sandwiches - the "Clubwich" (grain fed chicken, tomato relish, brie, baby spinach), and the "Caprese Panini" (tomato, feta, pesto). A bit messy, but finger lickin' good! The sandwiches came with three small, very interesting, salads, and some shoestring potato/sweet potato fries. We finished off by slipping into decadence, and sharing a scrumptious dark chocolate cake with mango sauce. The mango did nothing for this dish, but that was incidental.

Interesting wine list too, with a good selection by the glass, available in 3 oz and 6 oz pours. Don't go by the list on their website, though - it's not even close! There's a reasonable amount of Canadian content, with five or six Ontario wines available by the glass. The wine prices in general are a tad on the high side, though.

Service was attentive, but unobtrusive. All in all, a very pleasant experience, which we hope to repeat before too long.

2009 Feb 13
B/side is one of those restaurants I try at someone else's suggestions.

It is a small space -- long, not wide. The décor is very simple. It is the same owner as the resto beside it (Benitz - which had lunch at once).

The concept is small plates and wine. It was similar to tapas only the selection is different -- the food is more French and Italian inspired I think.

I went there last night and had an absolutely lovely palate-pleasing experience!

My friend and I decided to share four dishes: flash-fried oysters topped with chipotle-cheddar fondue (SO delicious! I would go back just for the oysters!), smoked mozzarella (nice and smoky), duck confit ravioli (melt-in your mouth and sweet) and fettuccine gorgonzola (very rich and satisfying). The melange of the four plates even seems odd to me but they were all so delicious!

It is pricey but the quality of the food makes it worthwhile. The service was good, not brilliant. We took our time which was a good thing since the server came by only now and then. This is not a restaurant for those in a hurry.

We ended the meal by sharing a white cake roulade -- with lemon and raspberry. Very light and yummy.

2008 Sep 6
We decided to try out b/Side last night, the new wine bar beside Benitz bistro (and owned by the same chef). Decor is sylish and modern -- dark glass walls, white chairs, dark hardwood flooring. The bar was especially cool. I only saw it for a moment, but it had a glass top with bottles of wine beneath.

We shared a bottle of Carmenere (I don't recall the label), a wine we enjoyed often during our trip to the Chilean wine country. To eat, we shared 5 small plates -- bruschette (2 with the standard tomato/basil topping, 1 with baba ghanouj, 1 with wild mushrooms), duo of meatballs (served with a tomato jam and a parmesan crisp), gnocchi with wild mushrooms, mozzerella di bufala (2 nice rounds, each atop a golden tomato slice, with a topping of red tomato concasse and a drizzle of olive oil, also served with a few crostini), and the brownie (dark chocolate brownie with white chocolate gelato and fresh strawberries). Everything was delicious.

The plates were well paced (the waiter asked if we'd care for everything at once, or spaced, we chose the latter), and the service was fantastic. Our waiter, who told us he had just moved from Montreal, was a true professional. The manager also came by to check on us during our meal. The food was served in a variety of different shaped white platters/dishes. We were given red glass side plates, which I found complemented the decor of the restaurant.

My only criticism was that of the 10 or so small plates offered, roughly half had wild mushrooms as a component. Understandably, this is what happens when a menu is seasonally focused. I love wild mushrooms so it wasn't an issue for me, but my husband, a mushroom-hater, had a tougher time. We were told the menu changes daily, so presumably that was just specific to last night.

Overall I would definitely recommend for either a meal of shared plates, or even as a nice place to pop in and get a few glasses of wine and an appetizer or two. There is also a patio out front for those who want to sip al fresco. In addition to a solid wine list, they offer a list of specialty martinis, cocktails and beer. I did hear the folks behind us complain that there were few or no Ontario wines on the menu. Personally, I'm not a big fan of Ontario wines so I viewed it as a bonus :) There were, however, offerings from most other major wine regions.

Price was reasonable. We'd probably order another plate next time, but we both left content. $90 before tip. We did order the least expensive red on the menu ($35), but there were several other options in the under-$50 range.

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