This week's Friday Food Sampler has a twist: instead of food, we 're sampling locations! Samantha is reporting from Ottawa.
With so many plans, people, and changes in the weeks leading up to the wedding, be sure to schedule at least one sit down meal where the bridal party and soon-to-be in-laws can co-mingle. Whether it's a rehearsal dinner or week-before brunch, by this time, your ducks are in a row and the last thing you want to do is stress about something like a meal. A charming, yet low-key dining experience is just what the doctor ordered when it comes to creating a warm environment for your wedding party to share great food and make great memories the evening before the big day.
Take a look at our following local picks for Ottawa. Ontario's capital is full of good eats that will work even for the most discerning bride out there, no matter how large or small the affair.
Mamma Grazzi's is an Italian restaurant in the heart of downtown Ottawa (25 George Street). Located in the city's famed Byward Market, it's the perfect setting for a rehearsal dinner, whether the wedding party is large or small.
A memorable wine list, delicious entrees, and lighting that can make the most stressed bride look radiant, Mamma Grazzi's is a great place to gather. Since spring and summer prove to be the most popular wedding seasons (and in Canada, this is even more so for obvious reasons), Mamma Grazzi's courtyard seating allows for a lovely outdoor setting (read: flawless pictures) during the warmer months. If the idea of an outdoor meal frizzes your hair just by reading this, rest assured that the interior of Mamma Grazzi's is just as inviting, with dim lighting, dark walls, and quaint space for your wedding party to feel like family. Mamma Grazzi's is known for using fresh ingredients in dishes such as smoked salmon and pasta in a creamy white wine sauce or their delectable thin crust pizzas, made in a wood burning oven. Prices range from $12-$30 for dinner, with a wide range of wines for ordering by the glass or the bottle.
The Buzz Restaurant (374 Bank Street) has everything that's needed for the perfect brunch. A warm ambiance, comfortable booths, and a brunch menu with all of the usual suspects, plus a few surprises thrown in for good measure.
The specials change weekly and range from blueberry pancakes served with melon to deliciously fluffy eggs scrambled with cheese and green onions. Eggs Benedict, fritatas, and omelets round out the Sunday brunch menu, with nearly every item accompanied by fresh fruit. For those who are less than enthused about a breakfast menu, there's burgers, salads, and the oh-so-delectable grilled chicken sandwich topped with crisp bacon and melted brie. Prices range from $6-$12 for the brunch menu (dinner at Buzz tops out at about $30), making it an affordable option for any wedding budget.
Finding a great restaurant in Ottawa is easy. Finding one that can accommodate a very large party? That's a little more difficult. If you're wedding party includes aunts flying in from the opposite coast and college friends, you may want to book a gathering that can easily accommodate such a party and there's no place more gorgeous (or delicious) that Social (537 Sussex Drive).
Social has that great metropolitan vibe that an urban wedding craves. With event planners on staff, Social ensures a great time for all, and even offers services such as personalized cocktails. The extensive menu includes lamb sirloin (arriving daily from Alberta), spicy prawns, and the ever-so-opulent 'Tasting platter.' The latter is reserved for sharing and is a healthy sampling of Social's best dishes in smaller portions. This restaurant is made for tons of interaction between guests and can also create custom cheese and port selections in the event Social is simply a "stop" on the pre-wedding festivities. Prices range from $25-$50 for cheese and port, while entrees top out at $35.
Easily the most informal and quaint on our list, Memories Café (7 Clarence Street) is the perfect cozy locale for a bridesmaid brunch any day of the week. The outdoor seating spills onto the sidewalk, making it the perfect place for a particularly loud bunch.
The menu consists of your standard café items, with several vegetarian options as well. Spicy tomato and red pepper soup, sandwiches on warm sourdough bread, and an endless array of deserts round out the list. An cozy place to sit and chat, Memories is the place to gather with your very best friends and family members for sweet meal prior to the wedding week (when things really start to pick up). Prices start at $4 for a side salad to $9 for an entree. There's also a delicious selection of hot chocolate and various coffees, ideal for sipping as you relax with loved ones.
Story by Samantha Cabrera