Johanna Read is a long time collector of advice on where to eat around the world, and has recently decided to start sharing it beyond her family and friends. You can follow her @TravelEater on Twitter.
Passion and hospitality – that’s what I want in a restaurant, whether I’m a tourist in my own town or in a far off place.
One of the best places to experience passion and hospitality in Ottawa is at The Wellington Gastropub.
The tone is set by owner/chef Chris Deraiche and owner/front of house king Shane Waldron. They go out of their way to ensure you have a fantastic service, food and drink experience. People who work at The Welly love eating and drinking, and love sharing that love with you.
Chef Chris’s menu changes every day, so you can never get tired of The Welly. He is justifiably famous for his risotto, for his ability to combine ingredients in new ways, and for sourcing high quality ingredients (don’t miss the Qualicum Bay scallops!). A good sign of passion and hospitality is doing the basics well, and making them, well, non-basic.
Salads are a unique combination of sweet, salty, sour, and crunch. Soups have a depth, and are piping hot. Meat and fish are always cooked perfectly. The vegetarian mains are so good that dedicated carnivores eat them with gusto.
Everything is made in house, including the ice cream.
The Welly has some unique gems on its wine and beer list, including bin ends, a wide selection of wine by the glass, and ever-changing drafts and bottled beer. Servers are all intimately familiar with the menu, and provide excellent advice on wine or beer to match with it. They’ll ask questions about your preferences and take these into account when giving you advice. They will make bold, but always right, matching recommendations. White wine with steak tartare? Yes, server extraordinaire Ivan successfully matches Ribolla Gialla with the truffle oil.
The vibe at The Welly is also unique. You can come as formal or informal as you like – you’ll be as comfortable in a T-shirt and jeans as you would in a business suit or cocktail dress. After walking up the long tin-backed stairs, you’ll see vintage industrial lighting, a blackboard highlighting unique wines and beers on an exposed brick wall, candles on reclaimed tabletops, a coffee table and couch, jars of house-made preserves by the open kitchen, a collection of taps from previous “guest beers”, and behind the bar, an Enomatic system that ensures pours by the glass are in perfect condition.
Your ears are also treated to vinyl on the turntable (although it can be sometimes hard to hear above the buzz of happy customers). Look inside your menu for album covers of the coolest bands.
The Wellington Gastropub has a very loyal following, with a large number of regulars. So that, combined with the many newcomers trying it out after excellent reviews, means you’ll want to make a reservation! Call 613.729.1315.
Thanks Johanna! Got a favourite restaurant you want to tell us about? Send us a note!