Photo courtesy of LexnGer (click image for for more)

Photo courtesy of LexnGer (click image for for more)

For better or worse I count myself among the army of Ottawans that toil daily for the government within several blocks of Sparks Street downtown. We have our peculiar habits.  You may have noticed the ID tags clipped to our belts:  A hideous fashion choice that we gladly make in order to avoid the inconvenience of reaching into a pocket or purse when entering the workplace. Such is the efficiency and commitment of the federal civil servant. You may also have noticed that we congregate at bus stops between 3:30 and 4:30pm (or used to, before the interminable strike) because we believe it’s worth getting to work at 7:30am if you get to leave the office while the sun’s still out. And our employer is fine with that.

Anyways, another thing we share in common is lunch. Between 12 and 1, you’ll find swarms of us in the basements of our grey office towers lining up at equally grey food counters serving up meals of a similar hue. Surely you, like me, believe in your heart that there is a better way.

This post, the first in an occasional series, will point the way to the culinary adventures that await only minutes away from your ergonomic keyboard.

Today’s discovery:  Tokyo Sushi on Kent between Nepean and Lisgar.  The place is small — maybe 6  tables.  It wasn’t busy though, even during peak mid-week lunching hours.  The decor is clean, fresh, and minimalist.  It makes for a nice break from the taupe an beige tones of your typical Government of Canada workplace.

The reason you come, though, is the sushi and good prices.  This is seriously tasty sushi. Much better than the nearby (and better-known) Festival Japan.  It’s also reasonably priced, a near miracle in Ottawa. The maki sushi combos start at $6.95 and top out at about $11 for enough sushi to make a good-sized lunch. The spicy salmon roll is delicious.  The veggie gyoza are crispy and light.  And the edamame were nicely cooked and salted. The best part of all: Pots of pungent japanese green tea are free and plentiful.

So ditch the basement sandwich shop, don your parka, and check it out.

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Preparing for the Budget

My current budget priority is to save for a pony. Ottawa Center MP Paul Dewar hopes that next week’s federal budget, which will include a 34 million dollar deficit, will involve less horse manure. From 10am to 2pm this Saturday, January 24th, Dewar is organizing a Community Dialogue on Economic Priorities at the Bronson Center (211 Bronson Ave), that will touch on a number of topics, including infrastructure and transit, housing, income security, environment and energy, supporting individuals and families, and ponies…  OK, maybe not ponies, but a girl can dream.

Man of the dayWatch history live over lunch at one of these Ottawa hangouts, and try your best not to let those feelings of “why can’t we have one of those” (inspirational politician, not handsome black man) seep through. The musical prelude starts at 10, the official stuff at noon. All the cool kids will be tuning into BET’s extensive coverage which will go from 6am to 3pm on January 20th, 2009.

1. East African Restaurant
The Rideau Street restaurant will have a big screen TV and ethiopian food. What more could you ask for?

2. James Street Pub
Ask your server to turn off the curling tournament on one of the Bar’s 20 TVs, and salt your fries with tears.

3. Why not watch it at D’arcy Mcgee’s and join in on Parliamentary Hill gossip about the new President?

4. Other suggestions?

Clipse in Ottawa!

January 13, 2009

Clipse @ Babylon
Surprise Surprise Hip Hop fans! The Clipse is making a one-night stop in Ottawa on their Play Cloths Tour. They’ll play at Babylon Night Club, January 17th.

Their last official CD, 2006’s Hell Hath No Fury obtained great critical success but what they might best be known for in the hip hop world are their awesome and bountiful mixtapes. While waiting for their 3rd album to come out, we get a small sampling of what it might sound like on the Road To Till The Casket Drops mix.

Check out this intimate show – Action starts early. Doors open at 7:30 and the show supposedly starts at 8:00….Tickets are $25 if you buy in advance.

http://www.myspace.com/clipse
http://www.babylonclub.ca/

Problem Solever

January 7, 2009

BootsEvery October the search begins.

No matter what’s in my closet – what state my current pairs are in or how much I spent on last year’s purchases – I set out to buy a new pair of winter boots.

Sometimes, I don’t quite find what I’m looking for and end up purchasing a few “almost right but not quite right” pairs before I find just what I’m looking for. (If I ever find it).
It can be a pretty costly venture. Especially, if you don’t want to wear what everyone else is wearing so you look outside the Montreal – Ottawa – Toronto limits.

My two main criteria for winter booths are style and warmth – usually, in that order. Since I don’t drive/have a parking spot/a car/a bus pass and my boots are my winter vehicle, I’ve smartly given up on boots with four inch heels. Flat boots are a winter necessity.

But Flat boots are often problematic; their soles are too thin. This causes two problems: 1) you feel the cold earth under your feet; 2) the soft soles get used up pretty quickly and your fancy leather boots are rendered useless after a few long walks.

Solution: re-soling.

It’s cheap, about $30. And not only solves problems 1 and 2 but also 3) Stops you from slipping when walking on dangerous surfaces like grids, ceramic floors (what’s up with the EQ3 entrance?) and mall entrances.

Here are a few places to try:

Capital Shoe Clinic, 203 Queen Street (corner Bank)
Bytown Shoe Repair, 341 Dalhousie St
Earth Watch Shoe Service, 427 Laurier Ave. W

The Best Two-Egger in Town

December 14, 2008

It’s the little black dress of breakfast: two eggs, toasts, potatoes. This cheep and easy standby is a favourite of students trying to forget last night and seniors trying to remember the last ten minutes. For those of you left jaded by decadence weekend brunches, try getting back to basics at these downtown(ish) hangouts.

  1. Mayflower – 247 Elgin Street – $3.35
    What the two egg breakfast is all about – the only way to get more bang for the buck is to lay the eggs yourself. Be sure to get a table in the back where the atmosphere is more English pub, less greasy spoon. Hippies beware: The Mayflower is a known conservative hangout.
  2. Bramasole – 428 Bank Street – $5.95
    Time warp back to the 1950s… or at rather to the 2008 hipster version of it. Although its not the best deal in city, the food is good and plentiful and the decor is the cat’s meow.
  3. Ada’s – 510 Bank Street $4.50
    Maybe its the sizzle from the kitchen, or the colourful checkered table clothes, or the waitress in her blue jeans and a T-shirt, but Ada’s is where you go to feel like an Ottawa insider. The meal is cheep and satisfying but, coffee refills are $0.50 a pop! Gasp!
  4. Wild Oat – 819 Bank Street $6.50
    The two-egger with a hippie twist: you pay a little extra for the virtue of Fair Trade Coffee and organic eggs. Go for the Spelt bread and the homemade jam. Conservatives beware: dreadlocked vegan types love spelt bread.

Any other favourites? Add a comment and let me know.