Stay: Andaz Ottawa Byward Market
As you may or may have not noticed, ToFoodies has got a bit of a love for Ottawa. From the frequent #ottawaedition's on the @tofoodies Instagram, it's a bit clear we're showing Canada's Capital a little more love than average, especially from a Toronto-based foodie. The reason is simple- I grew up in Ottawa; my family and many friends still live there. Ottawa is where I still go for holidays, necessary weekends away that include fam-jamming & Scrabble, celebrating friends' milestones and Canada Day in full, patriotic style. When I heard that an Andaz property was opening in Ottawa, my first thought was it's about time! A few years ago, I had stayed at the Andaz in West Hollywood with a couple girlfriends and we *thoroughly* enjoyed our time there. A highlight might have been living in the rooftop area, drinking pulverized fresh berry lemonade cocktails and demolishing burgers poolside. Very L.A. (we imagined ourselves).
On the flip side, the Andaz Ottawa Byward Market is very Ottawa. Every detail has Canada in mind. My boyfriend and I stayed a night in room with. a . view. THE VIEW. Taking advantage of the vast surroundings, the giant windows spanned the entirety of Ottawa, from the Parliament Buildings to the National Art Gallery. Even people watching was possible since sitting about the market, you get to peek into the veins of the city. The room was modern, bright, more than functional for two, but perhaps best of all- a mini bar is stocked with complimentary treats. Expect Canadian favourites, like the Neal Brothers' Himalayan pink salt kettle chips and dark chocolate squares from Hummingbird Chocolate Maker. Even the alcohol minibar is stocked with VQA Ontario wines and spirits from Dillon's Small Batch Distillers. The room service menu and guidebook looks like a book and is filled with genuinely great recommendations on the things to do and see. As a somewhat local, I can vouch with a sense of authority.
For dinner, we dined on the main floor at feast + revel, a welcome edition to Ottawa's food scene. For a starters, we shared the fois gras dish and were floored by the sheer size- a fist full of fois. A very rich, generous and luscious dish indeed, it came with mulled wine gelée, orange confit in rosemary syrup, poached plums, rosemary salt. Next up, we tried the seared octopus with seaweed oil roasted cauliflower romanesco, dulse, and anchovy-parsley gremolata. Heaven on a plate equals this charred, meaty octopus with soft cauliflower, cut through with the just-salty-enough gremolata sauce. Afterwards, we had a holiday dish that is no longer on the menu- duck leg with brussel sprouts, root vegetables, squash, leek and jus. Bring it back! Two people and three dishes, we were too stuffed for dessert.
After a quality supper, a bottle of Chianti and a gentle reminder from an attentive server about our fast-approaching reservation for drinks upstairs, we headed up to Copper Spirits and Sights. Safe to say, we drank some spirits! The cocktails were festive and seasonal, exactly what the doctor ordered for two Jewish people on Christmas Eve. The bar was closed a little earlier than usual, but if you were looking to the bartenders, you couldn't tell at all. They treated everyone with the same gusto as if it were a regular Saturday night, and it was a pleasure to sit at the bar, reminiscing the old Ottawa versus the new. Our favourite cocktail? Clearly, the 1875 with "Pluck Maple Tea Infused Crown Royal Rye, Amaro Lucano, Rosemary Mist, Sugar Maple Candy". And by rosemary mist, they really mean that they light a sprig of rosemary on fire, giving off the most incredible aroma.
To cap off the foodie experience, what is a hotel stay without ROOM SERVICE. See above. Avocado toast with fried egg, blueberry pancakes with lemon-cardamom ricotta, and The Upper Canada breakfast plate with eggs, bacon, sausage, sugar shack beans, local mushrooms, roasted tomato, mini Yukon potatoes and toast. When in Rome! We donned our white robes + slippers and went to town on the food, sitting in our little corner nook, surrounded by the city.
And just like that, our day of magic was over. See you soon, Andaz Ottawa Byward Market.