Doughnuts at Sidedoor
Tacos at Sidedoor
Ramen  at Sidedoor
Tacos at Sidedoor
Ramen  at Sidedoor
Ramen  at Sidedoor
Foods from Sidedoor

2012 Apr 8
Sidedoor has been consistently disappointing each time I have been there; forgetful service, food arriving at different times so that half the table is forced to watch the other half eat; and entrees that are prepared inconsistently so you never know what you're going to get when you order the same dish twice. I found this was the case with both the tacos and the lobster curry. Servers are interested only in upselling alcohol and if you ask them more detailed questions about anything, not only do they have no idea, they make no move to find out for you. It's difficult to get their attention for more water, sharing plates, etc., once you've ordered.

The space is beautiful, the potential massive. It's in the market, after all. It was great when it first opened, but after my last few visits, I am not coming back.

2012 Apr 8
We enjoyed a wonderful meal at the Side Door restaurant last evening. We highly recommend the fish tacos - a personal favourite. The braised lamb was also wonderful and made me long for summer and my herb garden with its fresh leaves of thai basil sprinkled over-top. To add some green to the meal we snacked on baby bok choy and snap peas done to perfection. The salmon ceviche was fresh and tasty topped with julienned apple and diced cucumber. Unfortunately, we were too full for dessert and to try the signature donuts! However, we plan to return - next time with a group of friends - and will be sure to give it a try. Also on my "next time list" - a lychee martini!

Our server was pleasant and attentive and the decor was spacious and inviting!

We will be returning!

2012 Apr 3
Went here for lunch today with my mother. I didn't have any problems with the service. It was fast and friendly. But that's only one of the reasons we read the reviews, so onto the next.

First off, for drinks, I had their version of a sidecar, the SIDEDOOR. Originality in the name aside, it was perfectly good, and ended up going well with my meal.

Unfortunatly the taco machine was broken, so instead I had the rare beef Ramen. I was very very glad I did. The chilis in it contributed well to the flavour. The noodles were thick and chewy, and tasty, while the beef was perfectly seasoned. Having the softboiled egg in it was the crown. The broth was delicious too that before I had realized it, I had consumed the entire, rather substantive, bowl of soup. My mother had the salad with the tuna sashimi, but she wouldn't let me steal a bite of it, so I can only conjecture on it's taste, but the evidence points to amazing.

All in all, a delicious lunch, and I look forwards to going back and trying their tacos.

2011 Dec 15
Luckily on my first visit here we did not encounter the service problems described by others. Our waiter was attentive and knowledgeable although slightly scattered (he had to return to the table to reconfirm the order).

It was a weekday at lunch and the restaurant was not very busy. Since the reviews of this place have been mixed, we sat down not expecting much. I would have to say that I was pleasantly surprised at how the lunch unfolded.

We shared a salad and two soups:

- The green papaya salad with cashews, mint & Thai basil was very artistically presented and the flavours melded together fantastically.

- I tried the seafood Laksa (curry coconut) soup first and was blown away by the taste – really flavourful. I thought it couldn’t be topped but then I tried the rare beef – this was absolutely amazing, such a full bodied beef taste – I don’t think I have tasted anything like it before.

Both soups were very large bowls ($~15 each) and despite probably being enough, we decided to share a “plate of cookies” which turned out to be 6 regular sized cookies (3 different flavours – ginger, chocolate walnut and peanut butter). They were fresh from the oven and so were slightly warm and gooey. A wonderful finish to a wonderful lunch.

2011 Nov 23
Happy to report that I had fabulous lunch experience at Sidedoor today. The $15 lunch box special is a perfect combination of soup, mini salad and two tacos. The flavours were lively, well balanced and especially in the case of the lamb taco, just plain yummy.

Thinking I might experience the less-than-wonderful service described in previous posts, I also was delightfully surprised by the friendly, courteous and prompt service delivery throughout the meal.

I would definitely go back. Even on a wintry day, the glassed in area of the restaurant that looks out onto the courtyard is a beautiful spot to enjoy a good meal with friends and colleagues.

2011 Nov 11
Side Door is now open for lunch, Monday to Friday, 11:45 to 2. Think I'll have to go and try some tacos! And judge the service for myself. :)

2011 Oct 2
Wifey and I finally made it here on Saturday for our bi-weekly date night. Strangely, our experience was the exact opposite of what most of the comments here describe.

Aside from having to wait several minutes for the hostess to show up when we first walked in, we found the service to be excellent. Our primary server (Julie) was friendly, efficient, informative, and had perfect timing. The apparently dedicated water server was great too, although she made one weird comment about "ladies first" when she first poured our water -- I mean, sure, but don't *say* it! Food was delivered from the kitchen by yet more staff.

The atmosphere is perfect for groups -- less so for romantic couples. The tables are wide and the loud music echoes off the exposed stone walls, making quiet conversation difficult. Seats are very comfortable and the place has a great vibe of coolness. This is a restaurant you visit to see and be seen. Lots of beautiful people here!

Drinks were good. My wife enjoyed her Pom-chee pomegranate lychee prosecco concoction and I liked the Ginger Mojito a lot (mild on the ginger, but well-balanced as a result).

The food, however, was terribly disappointing for the most part. They warned us that things would appear whenever ready, and sure enough dishes came in quick succession, causing some things to go cold as we ate through the plates. They should take a page from Play Food and Wine's book on serving small plates sequentially and in optimal order.

* Crispy Prawn - these were succulent but very mild. Prawns stuffed into folded betel leaves, lightly battered and deep fried. Somewhat bland, but probably the best dish of the evening!
* Salt and Pepper Calamari - the biggest disappointment. Powdery, bland (salt and pepper only) batter and undercooked squid. Wifey is a calamari connoisseuse and this dish made her grumpy.
* BBQ Pork Taco - the cloyingly sweet sauce on the pork overpowered everything else. Disappointing.
* Son-in-Law Egg - this was pretty good. Crunchy batter, poached egg, rice, and chili jam make for a tasty mess when stirred up together. It's probably the most cost effective way to fill your stomach here.
* Pork Belly - The pork paled in comparison to other pork bellies I've enjoyed. Fatty but not crispy, and the meat had that strong boiled porky taste. Yes, the menu does say "braised" so it's my fault for ordering it.
* "Peking Style" Chicken - Super juicy, crispy skin, and a sauce that was a little too sweet. We both quite enjoyed this. On the other hand, $18 is a lot for a chicken leg -- even a good one.

Towards the end of the meal we were kind of laughing because everything tasted the same! More to the sweet end of the spectrum, chopped cilantro leaves over each dish, and thinly sliced radish on many of them. The fact is, you can spend half the money at more traditional Asian restaurants and get something that might not look quite as nice but tastes much better.

For dessert, we skipped the chef's special donut and opted instead for the plainest Cinnamon Sugar Mini Donuts. They were not bad, but just fresh donuts. Nothing extraordinary. Wifey had two excellent comments about dessert here:
* "At (restaurant X) they would have served those donuts with some kind of interesting sauce or at least a garnish of some kind."
* "I can't believe they don't at least have fried bananas!!"

The "choose your donut" dessert menu smacks of gimmick. They should consider keeping one or two donut options and expand the menu a little.

All in all, we had a wonderful evening. After a meal spent yelling terms of endearment at each other across the table, we left Sidedoor holding hands and with smiles on our faces. Asian fusion remains a dining category of which we've seen no shining example.

2011 Sep 15
Was at Sidedoor a little while back-- we showed up at about 5:15 to catch their happy hour, and the place was all but empty. It slowly filled up as time went on, but it was awkward being one of three or four tables in the massive space.

I'll start with what made the greatest impression on both of us: the service. We found it so unpleasant and dampening-- it's honestly what we remember most about our visit. Snobbish, ignorant, pretentious, harried, and rude are all words I'd use to describe the treatment we received from staff.

Nearly all our interactions with servers were terribly uncomfortable. We both had the impression that they were barely listening (which the below would suggest is true), condescending, and in a rush to get back to fraternizing with coworkers. We didn't feel at all welcomed or appreciated as customers at their restaurant.
On top of the general discomfort, it took me three tries to catch someone flying by our table to ask for a beer. Once I ordered, they forgot about it and it came about 10-15 minutes and 2 reminders later. The place was nearly empty during this time.
Then they brought us seafood we never ordered, and appeared to barely believe us when we said we didn't ask for it.

I hate to go on, but I can't go without mentioning how the staff were blatantly talking about diners behind their backs. They did this steadily through the meal, and with little subtlety. Made us incredibly uncomfortable, wondering whether we too were being judged/mocked/discussed as we ate our meals.

Now all this is a shame-- because the food was awesome. We shared one order each of the chicken and beef tacos, along with a couple mushroom spring rolls and the fried tofu. The tacos were definitely the highlight: the meat was cooked just right, and the garnishings were clever and rewarding. The tofu was fluffy, a texture that was novel for me but enjoyable. The veggies and curry that came with it were good but nothing special, as were the spring rolls. We appreciated that everything tasted freshly produced and prepared.. crispness and textures really contributed well to the overall flavour.

I realize that the bulk of this review was about the service-- but we were really taken aback by it, and despite the above-average quality of the food, we won't be returning for that reason alone.

2011 Sep 12
I checked out SideDoor recently and think it's a great addition to the Ottawa restaurant scene. Definitely a place for real foodies! Just beware the egg!

2011 Aug 28
I dined at Sidedoor for the first time last night. I really enjoyed it and would definitely return.

Both the food and service were pleasant.

We ordered:
- mushroom spring rolls (fine)
- salt and pepper calamari (YUM!)
- tuna sashimi (yum)
- peking style chicken (tender)
- spicy beef taco (tasty)
- donut sharing platter (4 different varieties)

Overall I quite enjoyed the food although ... the sauce that accompanied the spring rolls and calamari tasted exactly the same (fish sauce with shredded carrots) as did the sesame-base sauce for both the chicken and tuna sashimi. I would have prefered more variety.

The donuts were a nice finish to the meal however they weren't all that impressive. Even so I'm glad we tried them.

You expect pricier menu items at Sidedoor and that's exactly what you get. So it's not a place I would frequent often but it's certainly a nice treat now and then.

Newer · Older


Oct 31
Soft cinnamon sugar doughnuts.

Tacos 4


Oct 31
The beef tacos are really good.

2014 Feb 28
I agree Camino does tacos better overall, and just marginally larger, but for the price at Happy Hour i have to say Side Door for tacos and
beverages is my go to. They always have 4 or 5 kinds going, running from at least good to outright great. Drink prices at either place are comparable.

Also, as much as i love Camino, you have a way better chance of getting a seat at Sidedoor, and they take reservations. If i can afford to risk an hour wait or arrive at 515 to secure a table, off to Camino i go, but otherwise Sidedoor gets my dollars.

But on topic, both are doing great tacos.

2014 Feb 26
If you're here for a meal then by all means get a pair of tacos as an appetizer. They're really quite good. But if you want excellent tacos, you should go to El Camino where the tacos are tastier, more generously garnished, individually orderable, and fifty cents cheaper. You're welcome. :-)

2014 Apr 12
I was hoping that the ramen here would be good but it's strictly average. I ordered the BBQ pork ramen.

The BBQ pork is truly the best part of the ramen. It's very fatty and flavourful. I savoured each bite of the pork. Unfortunately, the pork's flavour doesn't carry over to the bland broth. I had to add a lot of chili oil to add flavour to the broth. As for the shitake mushrooms, bok choy and poached egg, I didn't feel that they added anything to the ramen. In fact, I was very disappointed with the egg as it wasn't the soft boiled egg that is typically served with ramen. As for the noodles, it was nice that it was made in-house but nothing truly special jumped out about them.

A good ramen should have a good balance between the broth, noodles, and toppings. In this bowl, only the BBQ pork stood out. I might be back for the beef ramen but it'll be last on the list and only because not that many places in Ottawa currently serve ramen.

2014 Feb 26
I've been wanting to try the lunchtime ramen at Sidedoor for a long time, so a day off work to skate on the Rideau Canal with wifey was a perfect opportunity!

We enjoyed it but I think our expectations were maybe too high. This broth is not flavourful the way Hủ Tiếu is (nor does it claim to be--the comparison is mine only).

The fresh housemade noodles are delightfully toothsome and I fully endorse supporting restaurants that make this extra effort!

The rare beef with chili (left pic) was lean and enjoyable, especially after adding more chili oil from the ceramic jar conveniently placed on each table. The BBQ pork (right pic) was the star for me, with its crisp-fatty sticks of deliciousness, yet it was too rich for my wife's taste.

The poached egg was verry soft, meaning the yolk ran out and mixed homogeneously with the broth after poking it. This emphasized the broth's blandness and made us a little bit sad. Apparently (, ramen eggs are optimally soft-boiled and then marinated in soy sauce, leaving their yolks moist and jelly-like, definitely not runny.

Generous thin-sliced bok choy, green onions, and shiitake completed the bowl. The veggie content and presentation was excellent.

Definitely worth a lunch visit if you're a soup enthusiast. Just keep your broth expectations in check and focus on the meat and veg.

2013 Apr 30
Aisu: I wasn't saying that the instant stuff is any better or worse. It seems to be the go-to for broth even though a home-made one (dashi/chicken/pork) would be just as easy for some of these places.

2013 Apr 29
HonestTooth: There is nothing wrong with instant dashi, I use at home all the time.
But for the professional cooking, it is good to understand what is dashi. Dashi means stock. Use bonito flakes (katsuo bushi)or dried infant sardines (niboshi) all depends on what you cook. Dashi can be vegan (shojin) too, mede from Kombu kelp,shitake for example.

Sidedoor's ramen has good potential, but it was too salty. BBQ pork was good.
I personally love ramen soup made from torigara (chicken) stock and dried scallops. Lots umami comes out from dried scallops!!!

2013 Apr 28
Aisu: I find a lot of the finer places like Domus, Sidedoor, and the like all seem to use the (powdered?) dashi for broth in any Asian noodle dish. Interesting considering they have no problem making there own chicken/pork/beef/fish stocks and broths for everything else.

2013 Apr 19
I have never tried ramen in Ottawa, so I decided to try BBQ pork ramen at Sidedoor.

I asked what kind of soup stock they use. Chicken(torigara) or Pork(tonkotsu) stock are the most common for ramen, Sidedoor use dashi for their ramen.

Ramen looked nice. Looked like ramen, but didn't taste like ramen I had before.

Lots BBQ pork in ramen and they were tasty.

Noodle was okay, I prefer slightly chewy noodle for ramen.

Soup was way too salty.
Too much soy sauce.
I couldn't taste anything but salty soy sauce in the soup. No flavour, body or umami in the soup. It was just too salty.