In September 2018, a small black bear mysteriously made its way to the ByWard Market, causing media and residents to fuss over how and why the bear, who was appropriately named #BywardBear, paid us a visit. But the staff at The Koven, Ottawa’s only heavy metal restaurant and bar, knew exactly why #BywardBear found refuge in the tree behind their restaurant: he was looking for the loudest, most hardcore and tastiest place he could grab a bite to eat.
The Koven opened in at 93 Murray Street in December 2017 after moving from its previous location in Hull, where it was known as La Kabane. The restaurant’s success forced owner Mehdi Galehdar to find a new location where his restaurant could grow and continue to serve the metalheads of the National Capital Region.
Mehdi got into heavy metal through the underground scene back in Iran, where metal music is forbidden and considered blasphemy. He explains that metalheads in Iran would go to great and dangerous lengths to share music, record their own songs and play gigs. Also being passionate about food, Mehdi set out to open his own restaurant. It wasn’t long before his two passions collided and created a one-of-a-kind space where metalheads gather, eat good food, listen to the bands they love and develop a stronger sense of community.
What sets The Koven apart from other restaurants is the original menu and the undeniable heavy metal ambiance. The menu features typical comfort food: fries, poutine, grilled cheese, burgers and mitraillette–a Belgian classic consisting of fries stuffed in a baked baguette crowned with toppings and sauce—but with an extreme metal twist. Each menu item is inspired by heavy metal and the puns and playfulness are abundant. For example, the Cannibal Corpse poutine doesn’t contain any meat and the Cryptopsy Montreal smoked meat burger is named after Cryptopsy, a band from Montreal.
But The Koven’s pièce de resistance is undoubtedly their Chaotic Cthulhu burger, which Mehdi describes it as “a huge mess of meat and cheese.” With its giant beef patty stuffed with real squeaky St-Albert cheese curds, heaps of Canadian bacon adorning the patty, and evoking Cthulhu’s tentacles, aged cheddar, Swiss cheese, aioli, J.D. BBQ sauce and two grilled cheeses instead of a bun… it’s easy to understand why.
Mehdi experimented with his menu in order to give his clients a different but memorable dining experience that appeals to all palettes. Indeed, vegetarian and vegan options are not excluded from the menu and guests whose ears are sensitive to metal music can request the softer sound of rock, punk or 80s classic metal.
Improving an already solid and exciting menu is The Koven’s commitment to using good quality ingredients, from local suppliers, while staying away from processed foods and overly commercialized companies. The Koven works with local breweries to offer a robust selection of craft beers, mostly in cans, on which you will find cool graphics and illustrations made exclusively for fans of heavy metal.
The Koven has quickly become a favourite for Ottawa’s passionate and active metal community, in part due to its close proximity to Maverick’s, where most metal shows take place. This gives the community, as well as the bands, an opportunity to come together before and after shows to enjoy good food and a few drinks.
Make sure to take a look at the Wall of Fame to see which local and international bands have left their mark.
The Koven also collaborates with folks who drive Ottawa’s metal scene. The restaurant joined forces with the promoter CHORD Productions to present the Devastation on the Nation Tour in Ottawa on May 30 at Maverick’s.
This past fall and winter, The Koven hosted a pop-up-kitchen series by inviting chefs and bartenders from Ottawa to seek inspiration from the heavy metal ambiance and push themselves to create something dark and delicious. Both Edible Ottawa, Ottawa’s foodie magazine, and Bar Daddy, a local line of bar syrups and bar services, have recently gotten in touch with their inner metalhead while at The Koven to create and offer patrons new creations and experiences.
And just recently, Mehdi opened a little shop above the restaurant he called Konsignment, where independent designers and artists from Québec and Ontario sell hot sauces, apparel, jewelry and art. You’ll also find exclusive, original and autographed merch such as vintage items, band posters, tour t-shirts and records. The Koven Konsignment store is always looking for heavy metal themed apparel, music and art to sell, so true to its name, it offers consignment services too.
Whether you’re coming for the comfort food, a cold beer, loud music, the dark ambiance or a t-shirt from your favourite band, The Koven will know how to satisfy your craving.
Accessibility: There is one step to the entrance. The Koven is located at 93 Murray Street. It’s open Mondays from 4pm to 2am Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Thursdays and Sunday from 11:30am to 2am, and Fridays and Saturdays from 11:30am to 3am. Check out their menu at www.thekoven.ca, like them on Facebook and follow them on Instagram.