Tag Archives: Canada

Oxford Mommy’s Guide to Ottawa, Part 3

It’s our last day in Ottawa and my last post about Ottawa restaurants – we’ll be on our way back to Oxford tonight and I’ll be back to my usual postings about the baby-friendliness of Oxford venues. It’s been a great vacation and we’ve visited some fabulous places. It just so happens that the two last ones were some of the very best.

The Green Door (198 Main Street, K1S 1C6) is one of my favourite places; it’s Ottawa’s first vegetarian restaurant and has been going strong for 25 years (and they’ve also opened a Green Door Grocer two doors down). On our visit there I loaded up on the broccoli with tofu, my favourite dish, as well as many other hot dishes and salads. The restaurant is buffet-style and you pay by weight, which means you choose exactly what you like. Everything was as delicious, light, and fresh as usual. It’s always bustling in there so we went early and I was glad we did; by the time our lunch was over there was a line out the door and it wasn’t easy to manoeuvre the baby carriage out of the restaurant. It does have enough space for carriages at most tables, however. And most, if not all, of the food available can be eaten with one hand while you’re holding a baby.

Green Door lunch

The disabled/baby change bathroom at the Green Door is on the ground floor; the others are downstairs. It’s a very spacious baby-changing area and spotlessly clean, plus it’s nicer-looking than a standard bathroom. I also used the regular toilets and just love that the bathroom-stall graffiti in this place runs to comments such as ‘Save public libraries!’.

Green Door bathroom

Murray Street Kitchen/Wine/Charcuterie (110 Murray Street) couldn’t be more of a contrast with the Green Door; while the Green Door is vegetarian Murray Street concentrates on meat.  And how! I had a pulled-pork sandwich there that was maybe the best I’ve ever had; the meat was flavourful and juicy, it had just a tiny bit of cheese and coleslaw as dressing, and was served on a soft, sweet bun. My husband had the oxtail tacos and they were fabulous too, the rich meat was so tender that it was falling apart (although the tacos didn’t, which is good!). The ‘Poorly Cut Fries, Awesome Mayo’ were great too.

Pulled pork sandwich and fries

We were the only ones sitting inside (everyone else was out on the deck) so we had the place to ourselves, and our servers were extremely friendly, especially to the Baberoo. It was a great ambiance, although unfortunately there were no baby-changing facilities. And be warned: there’s not much on the menu that can be eaten one-handed while holding a baby, but for food this good you might be tempted to make your kid wait in the stroller while you eat!

Oxtail tacos

It has been a lovely holiday and we’ve had a huge amount of good food, both eating out and at the houses of family and friends. We’ve found that Ottawa is a pretty baby-friendly city. I can’t wait to come back when the Baberoo is a toddler!

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Oxford Mommy’s Guide to Ottawa, Part 2

As we continue our Ottawa holiday, we’ve been having some great experiences around the city with the Baberoo. I always like visiting old favourite spots, but there are so many new places to try whenever we visit the city that I end up wanting to go to all of them too.

One of the coolest areas in Ottawa now is Hintonburg, and after visiting friends who live in the neighbourhood we took their recommendation and headed to the Hintonburg Public House (1020 Wellington Street West, K1Y 2X9), where we had a fantastic lunch. My burger was one of the best I’ve had in years (perfectly medium-rare as requested and boasting yummy fried onions on top), and my husband’s fish and chips was tasty too – although it, and most of the menu, isn’t the easiest thing to eat with just one hand free. The staff were very friendly and kept admiring the Baberoo. There are no baby-changing facilities at Hintonburg Public House, although in a pinch you could use the floor if you had a mat.

Burger

We tried out the OC Transpo buses to see if Ottawa’s public transport measured up to Oxford’s bus system (I haven’t written a post about Oxford public transport yet, but it’s coming soon!) Sadly, on our first journey we were on an overcrowded bus with a surly driver who was annoyed that the Baberoo was crying, and there were no rules about where we could park our stroller (we started out in the middle of the aisle; luckily, someone was getting off so we could move into one of the wheelchair spaces). Our subsequent rides were much better, though, and the actual bus system works very efficiently. I prefer the seating system in Oxford, however: in Ottawa the section where baby carriages and wheelchairs can park have benches that flip up, rather than individual seats that can be folded one at a time in case you want to sit down. If you have a baby carriage and you use the space, you’re out of luck for sitting down yourself – which I imagine isn’t great if you’re pushing a stroller while pregnant with another child!

Another lunch outing saw us at Milestones Grill and Bar (700 Sussex Drive, K1N 1K4), where we were meeting a friend who had told us it was relatively baby-friendly, as I guess a chain restaurant with so many locations would pride itself on being. They did have several menu choices that were easy to eat with one hand while holding a baby, and the baby-changing facilities (in the disabled stall in the ladies’ room) were fine. Staff were also very friendly to the baby. Still, we weren’t blown away by the food – mine was a Thai chicken curry and my husband’s was pasta with asiago cream sauce – and next time I’d probably suggest somewhere else.

Thai chicken curry

While out book-shopping in the Byward Market (Argosy Books at 209 Dalhousie Street is one of our favourites) we stopped at the new Ottawa branch of i deal coffee (176 Dalhousie Street, K1N 7C6; there are also three locations in Toronto) to recharge and because it smelled heavenly – you could smell the roasting coffee from half a block away. I don’t drink coffee, but the delicious scent made me nearly swoon anyway.  My husband said it was one of the best he’s had for a long time. i deal coffee is a fair way up Dalhousie Street, but it’s definitely worth going. There was ample room next to the booth seating for the baby carriage, and there’s also an outdoor patio with a few tables. No bathrooms, though.

Coffee roasting

So far I’ve eaten so much that I feel like I have to roll myself to bed every night, but I still have some more places to review. Stay tuned for Part 3 of our Ottawa adventures!

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Oxford Mommy’s Guide to Ottawa, Part 1

We’re on holiday in Ottawa with the Baberoo for nearly three weeks, and besides visiting with all our relatives and friends we’ve also been trying to get around town as much as possible. Since I can’t review any Oxford locations at the moment, I figured I could still write a quick guide to Ottawa. I grew up here and visit about once a year, but I’ve never done it with a baby carriage before, and I was in for a few surprises!

These are shorter reviews with fewer pictures (and sometimes none, since I forgot my camera once or twice!), so I’m not employing my full rating system here, but I hope they’re helpful to parents living in or visiting the city.

My first venture out with the Baberoo was to the Ottawa Farmers’ Market at Brewer Park on a Sunday morning.  (I also went to the Main Farmers’ Market Ottawa on a Saturday morning and we went to the Marché Vieux Hull on a Thursday.) The markets are a favourite of parents with strollers and there are lots of babies everywhere. The one at Brewer Park is right near a playground and community garden, and there’s also a pool and community centre nearby so you may be able to use the baby-changing facilities there. Brewer Park is also the biggest market, with over 100 vendors.  I had a sausage on a bun and a lemonade while I was there, both very enjoyable. I’d highly recommend all of the Farmers’ Markets as a lovely place to go in Ottawa.

It doesn’t feel like a trip back home until I’ve been to the Byward Market, so we headed out there as soon as we could and had lunch at an old favourite, the Blue Cactus Bar and Grill. I was nonplussed to see that they’ve changed their menu to become more contemporary, so some of my favourite classic Tex-Mex dishes were gone. I got a trio of mini tacos (shrimp, Szechuan beef, and curry chicken) which were fine, but in retrospect I’d rather have had a chimichanga like the one my husband ordered. I did, however, enjoy my massive virgin daiquiri. The menu has various things you can order to eat one-handed if you are holding a baby, and the baby-changing facilities are fine, and presentably clean.

Chimichanga

Our next outing was lunch at the Urban Pear in the Glebe (151 2nd Avenue, Unit C). We’d been before but hadn’t returned for a while, and I’m happy to say that the food was still fabulous and we also received great service. I ordered the fried chicken on waffles and it was yummy, although a bit salty (I mentioned this to our server and got a fantastic and immediate response from the kitchen). My husband’s burger was well-flavoured and cooked to his specifications. The menu doesn’t have many items that can be eaten one-handed with a baby in your arms, but we took turns holding the Baberoo. The toilets, while very pretty, don’t have baby-changing facilities, but there would be ample room for changing on the floor if you had a mat.

Another Glebe location we tried was Za Za Za (915 Bank Street, K1S 3W5), at which we enjoyed wood-fired pizzas with unique combinations of toppings. Mine was the Lover’s Leap – one of the less wacky combinations, with mozzarella, black olives, pepperoni, tomato, and hot Italian sausage – and it had a perfectly-charred crust as I would expect from any good thin-crust pizza. If you’re up for a crazier pizza, try the Scary Roommate, which boasts both Kraft Dinner and hot dogs as toppings. We had a great time and I’d go back to try other combinations. The pizza was already cut into slices, which made it as baby-friendly as it was going to get, but there were no baby-changing facilities and the bathrooms were too small to consider a floor change.

Za Za Za pizza

We wanted to visit the Canadian Museum of Civilization for the last time before it becomes the Museum of Canadian History, so we headed over to Gatineau and started off with lunch at the museum’s own Bistro Boréal (100 Laurier Street, Gatineau). I had the duck club sandwich, which was pleasingly un-fatty, and my husband chose the bison burger, which he said was very good. We sat out on the terrace with the sleeping Baberoo and watched the people go by. There were a few items on the menu that would have been fine to eat one-handed. There are no bathrooms within the restaurant since the museum’s bathrooms are right near the entrance; these have baby-changing facilities, as do the bathrooms on all floors of the museum.

Duck club sandwich

We used the facilities and they were clean and fresh, with ample space for a baby carriage. I also received many friendly looks from both patrons and staff while I was breastfeeding the Baberoo on one of the many benches available in the non-exhibit areas. As for the museum itself, I really enjoyed the ‘Double Take: Portraits of Intriguing Canadians’ exhibition, which reminded me what a diverse and interesting country I come from.

CMC baby changing

I’ve also had some good advice about baby-changing facilities from a friend who has seen his two nephews through babyhood and who has tried out many a place in downtown Ottawa.  Apparently the best baby-changing facilities are at 240 Sparks, where they are built in rather than a pull-down table. He also recommends the facilities at the Château Laurier. The same friend suggested the baby-changing facilities at Fifth Avenue Court when we were in the Glebe, and they turned out to be great. I’m sure they are little-known; hardly anyone goes into the inside of Fifth Avenue Court since all the shops also have entrances from the street, but there are good bathrooms if you need one and the baby-changing table is clean and seems very little-travelled.

Fifth Avenue Court baby changing

Part 2 to follow after we explore some more venues this week!

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