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Foodie Friday: New restaurant Citizen open in Centretown

By Jennifer Cavanagh on February 17, 2017

New restaurant Citizen (207 Gilmour St.) opened its doors around the corner from established big sister town. last month, offering a respectable culinary addition to Ottawa’s  Centretown strip. With and without company, I’ve penciled this joint in as a regular date night in my schedule.

The stylish pane glass storefront, wood and neon adds an understated modern elegance to the overlooked side street off the Elgin Street thoroughfare – a hopeful sign that the Elgin strip may expand as a boutique neighbourhood with off-Elgin options.

The façade opens onto a long bar hugging the right wall, facing dark leather banquette seating that makes the most of a narrow but airy space. An adjoining “back room” features a clever moving wall, allowing overflow dinners to be part of the bustling atmosphere on busy nights or providing private dining another night.

A photo posted by CITIZEN (@towncitizen) on

There’s a no reservations policy. We arrived at half-six to score a table for four, on a busy Thursday evening. Cocktails are around the $10 mark and I’ve already been back for the Lato Nord – a warm twist of gin with Cynar. Whisky buffs would like to order the Horse with No Name.

The wine list comes in at $7-12 for a glass and a boasts a healthy selection of bottles above and below $50. The server was friendly, helpful and astute in guiding our selection.

Exterior ShotDates. Did I mention the dates? Okay, here is the thing. I could eat the dates and only the dates with my Lato Nord and be fully sated. The rich, gooey fruit wrapped in bacon – dripped in sauce and topped with crisp, sliced almonds – are luscious, blending sweet to savoury, viscous to crisp to great effect. It is a shame that there are only three per $9 serving and I hope the kitchen reconsiders a more respectable four or five, which would only encourage me to order more to my table.

The menu features a dozen offerings that work well as shared dishes, ranging from $8–16. Among the most successful were the generous and well-seasoned steak tartar, the charred broccoli, the crisp potatoes, and the sweet, fruity melt-in-your-mouth scallops crudo (ceviche). The star, however, was the yams and chorizo – a creative selection proving the sum of combined ingredients: crunchy tortilla chips, cream and coriander – and will always elevate. Less successful, though respectable, were the falafel, lasagna and most unfortunately, the borscht and brisket where the absolutely beautiful meat was offset by a soup which to my taste was more bitter than sour.

Citizen delivers a casual, creative and quality dining experience. The staff on both visits enhanced the soirée with comfortable, professional service. See you again soon for date night!