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Photos: Bruce Burwell

NCC’s Bistros at Confederation Park and Remic Rapids are a welcome addition to Ottawa

By Bruce Burwell on August 30, 2019

The National Capital Commission has been on a bit of a roll in the last few years. Well, apart from that whole Lebreton Flats thing. After many years of not doing much to make Ottawa’s many waterways more interesting and enjoyable they have hit some home runs. Tavern On the Hill in Major’s Hill Park is my favourite place to take an out of town visitor. The view over the river and towards Parliament is probably the best that there is in Ottawa on a warm summer evening. Tavern On the Falls at the Rideau Falls was a very worthy followup. And both have live music along with food and drink.

As I was writing this it occurred to me that a million years ago (OK, 40) I flipped burgers in the original NCC ‘pop-up bistro’ – the pavilion at Hog’s Back Falls. It’s so old now that the NCC refers to it as a ‘designated heritage pavilion’ on their website. So they do have a bit of history in placing food and beverage outlets alongside Ottawa’s watery attractions.

I was excited to find out what the NCC had achieved with their latest additions to the scene. Three pop-up bistros were planned for this summer—Patterson Creek in the Glebe, Confederation Park across from City Hall and Remic Rapids on the shore of the Ottawa River. The Patterson Creek addition immediately fell afoul of neighbourhood concerns around crowding, liquor and lack of consultation. It was put on hold for this summer and is supposed to open next year. Confederation Park seems like a great fit. The area is already well used by festivals and while it isn’t directly on the canal, it’s just steps away. Remic Rapids is a classic Ottawa tourist spot where the river and the rock sculptures of John Felice Ceprano draw people every day in the summer.

As we arrived at the Remic Rapids location I was immediately impressed by the landscaping and layout of the bistro. I had been imagining something like a glorified food truck with picnic tables spread around the grass but it is a lot nicer than that. The serving area is a recycled shipping container facing the river. Inside a low fence are many attractive seating options ranging from picnic tables to comfy couches. The whole area has scattered wooden planters that fit in well with the natural look of the place. Another favourite item of mine was the colour coded porta potties (blue for boys, pink for girls I am guessing).

Next up was the food. The menu is basically sausages, dogs and salads with a few extras like gelato for dessert. Kichesippi Beer Company supplies the beer and there is also wine and sangria along with mixed drinks.

I had a Kielbasa sausage on a bun that I enjoyed. My spouse had a Beyond Meat bratwurst and when I asked her whether she enjoyed it, she frostily reported that it was ‘fine’. Her expectations may have been set a little high since I had told her that we were going to a nice little bistro by the water for lunch. But no matter, you likely won’t be coming here for the food. The real attraction is the location.

One hundred meters down the path from the bistro are the rock sculptures. Directly in front of the bistro are the bike path and the river. As we sat eating our sausages many walkers, rollerbladers and bikers rolled on by. As with any outdoor location you’ll need to think about the weather – there is nowhere covered to go if it rains and it’s a fairly open area so if it’s windy bring a sweater.

Right now the bistro is becoming popular. By noon on the weekday I went there was a long line at the counter. Many people appeared to be civil servants coming down from Tunney’s Pasture to check it out. So go early and go soon if you want to try it – the NCC website doesn’t say when it will close for the fall.

The hours and menus for the the NCC Bistros at Confederation Park and Remic Rapids are available online