Capital Dining: Anne DesBrisay's Guide to Ottawa Restaurants


256 pages
Contains Index
ISBN 1-55022-642-8
DDC 647.95713'84





Reviewed by Kerry Abel

Kerry Abel is a professor of history at Carleton University. She is the author of Drum Songs: Glimpses of Dene History, co-editor of Aboriginal Resource Use in Canada: Historical and Legal Aspects, and co-editor of Northern Visions: New Perspectives on the North in Canadian History.


Ottawa once offered restaurant meals that were as bland and
unimaginative as a slow day in the Senate, but in the past 10 years, all
that has changed. Anne DesBrisay, restaurant critic for the Ottawa
Citizen, has provided us with a useful and entertaining guide to 107
area eateries that range from North America’s only cordon bleu dining
room to cheap and cheerful Vietnamese family-run and family-friendly
spots. Most are located in Ottawa, but there are also selections from
the surrounding region in both Quebec and Ontario up to an hour’s
drive away. The reviews provide information on the food, service,
ambience, contact information (including websites where available), and
sometimes a little background on the chef or owner. Each restaurant is
rated with a star system for overall quality and a dollar system for
cost. There are useful indexes that organize the restaurants according
to type of food, neighbourhood, “late dining,” “fireplace
dining,” patios, accessibility, and notable wine lists. The range and
selection are very appealing.

Of course, food likes and dislikes are quite a personal matter, so not
everyone will agree with the choices or appraisals. But if, like the
author, your tastes run to fresh, seasonal, and local ingredients
prepared with imagination but not pretension and to service that is
professional yet friendly, Capital Dining is an excellent guide.
DesBrisay is no food snob, so restaurants in suburban strip malls that
serve a good meal are just as likely to be included as trendy Byward
Market establishments. Restaurant descriptions are lively, interesting,
and evocative; for example, we meet the “parka people” on early
spring patios and learn where to find self-serve operations free of the
“usual buffet bricks of petrified quiche.”

Ottawa residents, as well as anyone planning to visit the nation’s
capital, will find this guide valuable. The new Ottawa is a cosmopolitan
city with much more to offer than most outsiders know, and sampling some
of the food adventures recommended in this book would be an excellent
place to start exploring it.


DesBrisay, Anne., “Capital Dining: Anne DesBrisay's Guide to Ottawa Restaurants,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed July 25, 2024,