Nadine Thornhill on Ottawa’s best post-theatre hangouts


Nadine Thornhill is an award-winning playwright, actor and spoken word poet.  She honed her theatre  skills amongst the freaks and geeks at the University of Waterloo.  Upon graduating, she moved to Canada’s capital where she has been living, loving and working ever since.   By day, she is the program coordinator for Planned Parenthood’s Insight Theatre. In her spare time, Nadine enjoys running, an occasional triathlon, and the antics of her husband and son.

There’s a time honoured tradition in Ottawa’s theatre community:  post-show drinks.  Like any one else in this work-a-day world, we dramatic types enjoy the racous relaxation of happy hour (although in our world, happy hour typically starts at 11 p.m.)

After an evening of theatre, I love to wind down with a drink, good food and conversation with my friends.  As such, I enjoy quieter places with a great menu.  I’m also lazy and poor.  So I also enjoy places that are cheap and close to the theatre.

These are some of my favourite after-theatre hang outs:

Chez Lucien

If there’s one thing theatre-folk appreciate, it is ambiance.  Chez Lucien’s stone walls and dark bar inspire thoughts of 19th century France, revolutionary plots and liberal intellectualism.  But  “Chez”, also has everything you need for a 21st century good time.  Great staff, the drink selection is vast and the burgers are some of the best in the city. Split over three levels, each section of the bar feels cozy and intimate.  Located in the ever popular ByWard Market, this places fills up fast especially on the weekends, so show up early if you want a table.

The Carleton Tavern

The Carleton Tavern is divey in the best possible way. No stilettos or club wear required — this is a laid-back, unpretentious place to kick back a chill, chat and people watch.  It is staffed by some of the friendliest people I’ve met and the pizza selection is to drool for.  It is also a vast space, which means there’s always a table available no matter what size your party. Best of all, it’s a quick five minute walk from the Great Canadian Theatre Company!

The Wellington Oak

Also within spitting distance of The Great Canadian Theatre Company is the Wellington Street Royal Oak.  The Royal Oak is ubiquitous in Ottawa, yet I find each one has its own personality.  The Wellington Oak has a community feel to it, with lots of regular patrons from the surrounding neighbourhood.  The food is simple and delicious. The many booths make it a super-comfy place to settle in for hours of post- theatre drinking and chatting

The Fringe Tent

For ten days every June, the vacant patch of grass beside Arts Court is transformed into the social hub of The Ottawa Fringe Festival.  Also known as the “Beer Tent”, this center for all things Fringe isn’t just for theatre types — anyone is welcome to stop by.  Ottawa Fringe not only attracts local artists, but performers and producers from around the world, so drama nerds unite!  It is the place to geek out on theatre… and due to the high percentage of struggling artists, the drinks are pretty cheap!

Thank you Nadine!! Have a favourite spot in Ottawa we should all know about? Share your thoughts with us!

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