I was treated to the most excellent of birthday dinners at Town by two dear friends last month. As someone who loves good food, it was a surprise that I had not already been since it opened in June of 2010. Having looked at the menu beforehand, I was excited when the night of our reservations came. As it turns out, my excitement was warranted – this meal easily made my top three dinners out, ever.
Town is a family owned restaurant, located at 296 Elgin Street in Centretown. Firm believers in supporting local farmers, the food they use to cook their creative, and delicious, menu is locally sourced. The menu is fairly rotational, focusing on a variety of small and large plates, as well as a cheese list and dessert menu. Town is best known for their meatballs, which they serve both as a small and a large plate. If you are the kind of person who loves to try new foods, or new pairings of foods, Town is the place to eat. Since the small plate menu features the more inventive dishes, my advice to you: bring along a few friends who like to eat and don’t mind sharing – I can guarantee that there will be many things on the menu that you will want to get the chance to try!
At our dinner, we chose a selection of small and large plates, opting to share all of them between us. For the small course we chose the ricotta, the olive bowl and pork belly. The crispy pork belly and octopus is an impeccable pairing of surf and turf. The dish is beautifully presented and it tastes amazing. The olives are marinated and served warm – and are a great beginning to the meal. All three large plates that we ordered were excellent, but the overnight braised beef cheek was everyone’s favourite that evening.
Before (or after) dinner, a cheese plate is a definite must. The cheese plate offers a selection of cheeses accompanied by spiced nuts, mostarda and honey. Our server had an excellent knowledge and appreciation for the cheese offerings. As a cheese hound I have high-expectations and was pleasantly surprised by their selection – particularly the Bellavitano, an espresso-washed cheese from Wisconsin.
Their dessert menu is a clever play on traditional dishes, including the lemon tart and ice cream sundae. It was difficult to turn down the sundae, but when our server was describing the lemon tart, she lead in with a humble “well, it’s just like your standard lemon tart, but…” then proceeded to add delicious things, one after the other. Just when you thought you were going to have the best lemon tart of your life, they topped it with another ingredient. I don’t know that I’ve had a better dessert than that in a very long time.
To wash down all those delicious eats, Town has a great selection of beers, wines, and other tasty drinks. They have a large wine list – offering glass, half-bottle, and full bottles. They also have a small but inventive cocktail list, if you’re looking for something unique. There isn’t a large beer selection, but you can find great beer here, including a selection from Bellwood Brewery, that is hard to find elsewhere in the city.
The atmosphere of Town is also a big part of its appeal. With large red velvet curtains at the entrance, you feel as though you are stepping off the street and into another world, where Town is the only town that exists – until your meal is over. The Edison lights suspended from the ceiling are a beautiful addition, which add another element of warmth to an already welcoming space. The art on the walls changes regularly, showcasing local artists’ work.
The nice thing about Town, is that it is a space that is well suited for any occasion – whether it be lunch with coworkers, dinner and drinks with friends, or an evening date with your partner. Town’s motto is “Town loves you” and with that cozy space, careful menu, and great service, it’s easy to believe.
In addition to serving up great local food in an inviting atmosphere showcasing local artists, Town is also part of supporting some great local initiatives – most recently the #1squarefoot campaign, to help raise money for the expansion of McNabb skate park.
On Monday June 2nd, Town is offering up their kitchen and their space to Longfield-Davidson Heights Secondary School’s graduating Culinary Arts class to prepare a 4 course meal, with all the proceeds going to the Ottawa Skateboard Community Association’s #1squarefoot campaign. Tickets to enjoy this meal are 85$ with wine pairings, or 65$ without. There will also be some awesome art on the walls, by local mural artist Ryan Smeeton.
Town is located at 296 Elgin Street. They are open for lunch (11:30 am – 2 pm) Wednesday to Friday and open daily for dinner at 5 pm. To learn about their menu or to book a reservation, visit their website. You can also find Town on Facebook and Twitter.