Think oatmeal is boring? Think again. In the heart of Old Ottawa South, Oat Couture Oatmeal Café is serving up 18 different bowls of oatmeal. 14 of the 18 are made with gluten-free, organic steel cut oats and all 18 bowls are made with stir-ins. Some are heartier, like the Woodstock, which includes hemp and chia seeds, dates, and maple syrup. Others are more indulgent, like the Campfire, which tosses graham crackers, toasted marshmallow, raspberry coulis in with caramel and chocolate chips. A few can even be surprising, like the Bubba, which features marinated shrimp curls, avocado, and cilantro.
The concept came to owner Brian Montgomery when he struggled to find healthy fast casual dining in Ottawa. Montgomery comes from a family of restauranteurs and like many people he often mused about opening a café. When his kids had left the nest and when his community work in Rockcliffe Park was coming to an end, he started to think more seriously about providing healthier food for people on the run, coupled with great coffee. He approached chef Ben Baird (Urban Pear, Ottawa Streat Gourmet) who dismissed the idea immediately. He honestly thought the idea was dumb. But after hours of cooking, experimenting, and repeated pestering, Baird changed his mind and set out to create a menu that would elevate oats within the grain world. Take that, quinoa!
Today, the café sits on the corner of Bank and Glen, and is home to a world of charm thanks to Felt Space Design and Ottawa Commercial Interiors who helped with the eight month transformation. The building’s structural integrity had sagged due to fires in the 1980s, so the owners added structural steel while preserving and insulating the brick and pine walls, screening and washing the original maple floors with Scandinavian whitewash, and repurposing the location’s former bank safe as its restroom, and using the safe door for a coffee bar.
Whether you’re a fan of oatmeal or not, Oat Couture is worth a visit for the name alone.
It’s difficult to express the overall quality and delightful experience offered here. Visitors might be drawn by the iconic hanging rattan chairs in the window (no, you cannot reserve these) or by the smell of Little Victories coffee being served, or maybe it’s just the oat-rageously large cookie on their menu. One nice not-so-subtle touch is the 13-foot mural on the back wall. The picture of Montgomery’s father, uncle, and grandfather was shot in 1968 during a trip to Ross Gulch, BC. And what do you suppose the three had for breakfast at the lodge that morning?
Having taken such a creative approach to an old classic and delivering it in this thoughtful space, the café feels like a perfect fit for the historic neighbourhood. Its attention to detail, welcoming atmosphere, and ambitious run as Canada’s first oatmeal café might just make it a staple of your morning routine.
Oat Couture Oatmeal Café is located at 1154 Bank Street (corner Glen Ave.) in Old Ottawa South. It is open 7am—8pm every day of the week. Now if this article was your cup of…tea?…try following us on Instagram where we spill all the beans!