Frugal Fun Ottawa goes on an Urban Quest

Josée is an Ottawa engineer and mother of two who loves to find free and frugal activities and events happening in Ottawa. She puts her research to good use over at Frugal Fun Ottawa.

A few weeks ago, Hubby and I decided that it was high time for a real date night. Our kids are two and four, so life is a big hectic right now. And like many parents of young children, we don’t often take time for ourselves. When my sister offered to babysit for the whole day (thanks sis!), we jumped at the chance.

With the kids taken care of, we just needed a plan. What to do? 

Our day on the town was a Saturday, and the weather was looking great. We decided to try UrbanQuest‘s Quest in Time. (Disclaimer – I got three free Quests from UrbanQuest.com through my website, Frugal Fun Ottawa.) The Quest in Time takes place downtown, and leads participants to various historical locations. In case you’re not familiar with these Quests, here’s how it works: 

  • Choose one of five Ottawa Quests at UrbanQuest.com. Quests range in price from $19.99 + tax (meal costs are extra) to $89.99 + tax (meal costs included).
  • Print your clue package, then choose a price range for the restaurant that will be the last stop on your Quest. You can also indicate what type of restaurant (ie. family-friendly or date-friendy) you’d like. The name and exact location of the restaurant aren’t revealed until you’ve figured out all your clues.
  • When you’re ready to start, launch your Quest. This can be done at home, from a smart phone when you’ve arrived at the first destination on your Quest, or from an internet cafe. You get two hours to complete your quest once it’s launched. I recommend choosing the “launch at a later date” option when you’re at home and setting the start time of your Quest.

I don’t want to give too much away and spoil the Quest for you, so I’ll just say this: Hubby and I really enjoyed our Quest in Time. We live downtown and walk around the downtown core all the time, but we don’t actually see what’s right in front of us most of the time. The Quest forced us to actually pay attention to some interesting historical monuments and landmarks, and we learned a lot. 

Valiants, by Vince Alongi (Flickr)

It took us about an hour and a half to complete our quest (we had to Google a few things, but that’s ok – it’s allowed!) and we enjoyed working together to solve the clues. Once we had solved all the clues we decided to walk down along the locks by the Chateau Laurier before heading to our supper destination. Playing tourist was so relaxing compared to our usual state of rushing around! We really enjoyed just being in the moment. 

Rideau Canal, Empty Locks by Ian Muttoo (Flickr)

Then came time for supper. Since we were on a date and ready to splurge, we had chosen a date-friendly restaurant at the higher end of the price spectrum. I won’t reveal the name of the restaurant here, but if after reading my gushing review you’d like to know, email me at contactme(at)frugalfunottawa(dot)ca and I’ll let you in on the secret.

Hubby and I shared a beet salad with goat cheese, and a dish of roasted brussel sprouts with seasonal vegetables. (I never knew brussel sprouts could taste so good, but in a word: scrumptious!) For my main dish I had an incredible melt-in-your mouth gnocci dish with asparagus and mushrooms in a cream sauce, paired with the white wine suggested on the menu. (I forgot to write down the name of the wine. I’m pretty picky about wine, and am always looking for a new favorite – this one definitely fell into that category.

No problem though, since we’ll be going back to this restaurant as soon as I can line up another sitter!) Hubby had a terrific grilled steak with frites. He let me have a bite of his steak and I will definitely be ordering it on my next visit. If you do visit this particular restaurant, I would suggest sticking with the incredible appetizers and main dishes and skipping dessert – my chocolate paté was a bit too bitter, and Hubby’s apple tart was, in his words, “Ok”. (Our views about dessert may have been affected by the incredible high expectations we had by this point!) 

All in all, we had a great time. We would never have stopped to look around and take in the downtown core’s rich history on our own without the Quest in Time, and we certainly wouldn’t have had supper at the restaurant chosen by UrbanQuest.com, since Hubby and I are creatures of habit who rarely step out of our comfort zone. So thanks sis, for making it possible, and thanks UrbanQuest.com, for making it happen!

Thanks for the post! We can’t wait to go on our UrbanQuest, now that the weather is so beautiful! Also: judging by your description, we’re pretty sure that restaurant is one of our favourites!