town 14

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2012 Mar 13
I'm late posting this as my visit was a couple of months ago, but from what I gather I think the review will not be outdated yet.

Went around 8 on a Saturday night with no reservations. There was only room at the bar, but that was perfect with me as I prefer sitting at the bar anyway.

A nice, small space with good ambiance. Good bread to start, and those neat little coarse salt containers with the flip top and little spoon that seem to be gaining in popularity at trendy restos.

I started with the beet salad, which was really well done. Everything about it was fresh and flavourful, and the beets had great shape (some were formed into little round balls) and texture. I like my beet salads, and this one was one of the better ones I've had.

I then had the cod as a main. Again very flavourful and well done. My friend had their signature ricotta meatball dish and said it was surprisingly great.

I'm not a wine conoisseur but my friend is and he said their list was kinda "meh" but I happily enjoyed a couple of their cocktails, which were pretty original.

The service was just right. Polite, attentive, friendly, but not overbearing.

My only complaint would be that they didn't have any soup on offer, and me being a soup freak on a freezing cold night wasn't too thrilled at the start but I forgot about that soon enough.

Recommended and will go back. Glad to see a good restaurant on Elgin that is neither club nor pub.

2011 Nov 16
Went here for dinner Friday ~8:00. I had read lots of great things about Town, my expectations were high.

The restaurant was crowded as expected from previous posts. On several occasions, i was bumped while eating by staff or people waiting to be seated.

I had the crab citrus salad to start. The 3 orange slices were the highlight as there was very little crab. The presentation of the dish was underwhelming, certainly not what I expected for $14.

For the entree, I had the seafood stew ($29). This consisted of 2 mussels, 3 clams, and 2 fingerling potatoes worth of potato slices. The cod was small and overcooked, and half of the garlic bread was burnt. Not sure how this made it out of the kitchen. My spouse ordered for her main, the whole wheat mushroom linguini ($19). Although tasty, there were literally only 6 pieces of mushrooms in this main dish.

Conclusion: the menu is overpriced considering the quality and quantity of food received. Not sure if the trend is to flock here for the small plates? The dining experience is further reduced by the cramped seating.

2011 Jul 10
I love everything about Town. The food is delicious, the servers are friendly and the vibe is wonderful. Yes, the place is crowded but it is also constantly full because the food is worth it. Ottawa needed this place. Badly.

I always leave Town feeling happy and thinking that my meal was worth every penny. It's not that Town is particularly expensive (in fact, I find it reasonably priced considering the quality of the ingredients), it's that I tend to leave most other dining establishments in this city feeling like I've been ripped off (Domus Murray Street and Navarra spring to mind).


2011 Feb 27
We booked for yesterday (Saturday) night over a month ago. The first thing we noticed was how crowded the restaurant was. Customers and servers bumped my chair even though I was pressed up almost uncomfortably against our table. There are two tables for two in the front window. I wonder how far in advance you need to book to get one of those? ;-)

Service was cheerful and competent. Complimentary bread was initially generous (3 multigrain fennel baguette slices each) but a refill was never offered. Water is left at the table in a glass bottle, thus empowering the diner via self-service. We noticed that the art on the walls was more interesting than one usually finds.

Wifey opted for the Townie cocktail (prosecco, peach schnapps, and cranberries). I tasted it and agreed that it was refreshing and nice -- similar to a sweet peach cider. I had a glass of Niagara Fielding Riesling that was quite delightful.

Even though neither of us likes liver much, we tried the Chicken Liver Crostini after reading the rave reviews here. The liver taste was offset by the somewhat cloying rhubarb compote and the yummy salty chunks of bacon. The crostini were two halves of a large slice of bread; perfect for sharing between two people. We wouldn't order this one again, but if you love liver and rich, sweet foods it is worth a try.

The plate of Olives was a little disappointing because even though the olives looked quite different they all tasted pretty much the same. I was comparing it to a fantastic order of house-marinated olives I enjoyed a few weeks ago at Victoria's Pizzeria Prima Strada restaurant (photo: www.pizzeriaprimastrada.com) and town's version fell dismally short in comparison.

The Pecorino Potatoes are fingerling-sized skin-on potatoes that have been smashed (i.e. flattened) lightly and dressed with crumbled salty pecorino. These are good filler for your belly.

The Ricotta Gnudi lived up to our expectations with their rich, gooey, fluffy texture. They were the most interesting thing delivered to our table that night. I recommend sharing this dish between 2-4 people as I think it is just too salty to be eaten by one.

The Ricotta Stuffed Meatballs were surprisingly boring. The meat was made interesting only by the plain ricotta in the center. We both found the tomato sauce too sweet (personal preference I know). These are big, 2-inch diameter, meatballs and you get 2 on the small plate or 4 on the large.

The BC Ling Cod was the only main dish we ordered. It was graced with satisfyingly chewy gnocchi and fresh but naked mussels (kudos for not including those cliché mussel shells!). Mushrooms were tasty, adorable, and in generous supply. The speck provided texture, salt, and interest to the dish. The ling cod itself was perfectly cooked -- crispy on top and succulent throughout. The sauce was lemony and well seasoned. Yet somehow, in spite of everything, this medley of wonderful things was not greater than the sum of its parts.

For dessert, we had hoped to try the famous Arborio Rice Pudding but our server informed us that they were sold out! She pushed the Panna Cotta as a good second choice, but neither of us was too keen. Instead, we went up the street to Pure Gelato and shared a nice cup of Gianduja and Coconut gelato. I needed the walk anyway. It turns out my bum had gone completely numb from being perched on a hard wooden stool for an hour and a half! Wifey commented that my chair was probably the worst one in the whole restaurant. Caveat emptor.

All in all, we were fairly underwhelmed. The small plates at town are really just okay appetizers. In contrast, the offerings at Play Food and Wine are like miniature meals, complete with tasty sides!

2011 Feb 25
I went with a friend yesterday, Thursday. We made reservations for 5 pm and were done by quarter to 7. I am usually the gulp and run type of person, so staying this long without realizing the time was a true plus for the place. The place is snuggy and crowded, but not noisy. The server was warm, and willing to advice and recommend. We ordered two types of cheese, all excellent. We tried a small plate of potatoes, which was flavorful. We also tried a main dish of pasta and chicken meatballs, which was rich in flavors and perfect in temperature. For dessert, we had a rice pudding with sugare coated, freshly roasted nuts.

I like places that surprise me with a combination of non-traditional spices. Town, through its medium-small portions presented just that. A surprise to the senses in every bite.

The only thing I didn't like about the place is the bread.

2010 Dec 20
Stopped by on Friday evening for a late (post 10pm) bite to eat, and it was hopping with not an empty seat in sight.

Sampled most of the app menu and really enjoyed everything. Of particular note: The gnudi are simply an excellent dish and in my opinion the chicken liver crostini is one of the best ways to spend 8 bucks in Ottawa.

All the dishes were presented in a manner that lacks pretension and preciousness, which I certainly appreciate in the nouveau Canadian "small plates" genre.

Flavours are straightforward with no obvious fusion elements, it's definitely 'Italianate' cooking, and I mean that as a compliment.

Bottom line: a great addition to the culinary scene in Ottawa , and I look forward to checking out the rest of the menu, provided I don't cave and order 3 plates of the crostini instead...which I am considering doing.


2010 Nov 28
Mr. Jules took me to town last night for a birthday/just because dinner. When we called, the next table they had available was for 10pm but since we had no other real plans we said, why not?

The restaurant was packed at 10pm with another table of six arriving shortly after we did. We started out with cocktails - a Negroni for MJ and a Pimm's Italiano for me. I appreciated that their cocktails were a) strong and b) not overly sweet.

We started with a cheese plate and a glass of prosecco - the piave (hard italian), chevre des neiges (triple cream cow + goat) and the third soft whose name I sadly forgot but was also quite soft. The chevre des neiges was delicious with honey and the other cheeses paired really nicely with their apricot moustarda.

We shared the tuna crudo - which we found delicious and melting - the tables on either side of us also ordered this and seemed to really enjoy it.

We also shared the small ricotta meatballs - they live up to the hype. They were seasoned so nicely and barely held together.

We had a small plate of the short rib ragu cavatelli which was great and went very well with a glass of Primitivo (quite a hearty red) since it was so meaty and rich. I loved the pine nuts on the pasta and whatever they garnished it with to make it crunchy (?).

Finally we each had a dessert - I found their servings fairly large for one person. MJ had the chocolate budino with whipped cream and home made granole and I had the arborio rice pudding with pistachio brittle and sour cherries + an espresso. It seems like just a few spoonfuls at first but they are quite large servings (for me!) so I would share next time.

Like others, I agree that the space is small and loud - I wasn't sure that I would like being crammed in to such a small space but the place is fun, if we were going for a quieter more romantic dinner I would choose elsewhere.

I really want to go back for the Gnudi which everyone seems to love. Their menu is short but each item seems well thought out and delicious (wine list ditto). Can't wait to go back!

2010 Nov 17
Been meaning to post on town. I've been three times after work with friends. It is small and crowded, and the service can be a little sassy sometimes, but that said the food is fresh and delicious without a mega markup. It has an noisy urban atmosphere that is either going to rub you the wrong way or not. I haven't tried this yet, but their bar would be an ideal perch for solo after work drinking and decompression. I can't comment on the wine list because each time I went I had a different mixed drink, all competent. I've had the ricotta gnudi twice, each time a "foodgasm" (love this expression let me eat cake). Ron Eade posted an adaptation of their recipe "Going gnudi in the kitchen" (haha Ron): communities.canada.com Overall I think town is a great addition to Elgin.

2010 Nov 7
Went here at the last minute on a Friday evening and managed to get two seats at the bar. I had the short rib, and my partner the half chicken. Both were excellent, the chicken in particular was cooked beautifully. The sides were great too, the short rib came with excellent pureed potatoes. For dessert we split the rice pudding with pistachio brittle, served in a mini mason jar. Very cute, and not to sweet, so it hit the spot nicely. I would certainly go back!

2010 Oct 30
The rumours are true... Town is certainly a must-try on the Ottawa food scene. We stopped in this evening after a show at the NAC, hoping that a table or some seats at the bar might be free. It was still bustling at 9pm, but we were greeted warmly and told that if we waited 5 or so minutes, we would have a table... we were asked in advance if we wouldn’t mind relocating to the bar in an hour or so when a reservation shows up, which was no problem at all. It’s great to see that they are doing so well.

We shared three small plates:
1. Tuna crudo - my boyfriend’s favourite. I am not usually huge on tuna, but this was delicious. Just the right amount of tuna topped with prosciutto.
2. Ricotta-stuffed meatballs – these have been mentioned in previous reviews and are definitely worth a try... we were pretty hungry and had the full serving of four large meatballs.
3. Ricotta gnudi – topped with walnut pesto and my personal fave...they perhaps induced a foodgasm. I don’t think I could ever go back there without trying these.

For dessert, we moved over to the bar and tried the buttermilk panna cotta and rice pudding...both suiting each of our personal dessert tastes. The desserts are served in small mason jars... great idea on their part. The puddings/custards are prepared in advance and then drizzled with fresh toppings upon serving.

The service was excellent...very attentive and informative servers. I also really enjoyed the ambiance. Clean, modern decor; low lighting; good music. It was loud, but not so loud that we couldn’t hear each other. It was really great to see that the restaurant was so full later in the evening. As we left, around 11, many tables were still occupied.

Can’t wait to go back!

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2010 Oct 21
Nothing but good things from my experiences at town. Had chicken under brick for lunch a few weeks ago..Oustanding, veggies cooked perfectly, chicken nice and tender.

Dinner tonight.

Nobody mentioned the chicken liver crustini yet,(aka penut butter and jam) Chicken Liver mousse with creme fraiche cognac, and a rthubarbd bacon (compote?) oh it's heaven.

Gnudi's great as well.

The arborial rice pudding was a pleasant suprise, and the waitress was very knoweldgable with the wine and porte recomendations.