Thursday, June 17, 2010

Canvas Resto-Bar - Way Too Long On My Wish List

Canvas Resto-Bar is located at 65 Holland Avenue, between Wellington and Scott Street. A perfect spot for catching the theatre crowd that enjoy the GCTC just 2 blocks south. In fact, they participate in a ThEATre Restaurant Partnership Program together.

Yesterday afternoon I drove downtown to rescue my mister from the late afternoon downpour. No umbrella, no coat and a number of sighs as he announced the end of his day. I weakened and made the offer that was quickly accepted. The two things that I naively failed to realize was, that downpours do pass (that is SO obvious) and Ottawa really, really struggles with any kind of precipitation. I felt like I was stuck in the traffic for a Sens game. Finally, with passenger in tow, we began the return route, experiencing equal strengths of traffic gridlock pain. Taking the back roads from downtown to Westboro, had us going by restaurant after restaurant. I finally buckled to the constant suggestions to eat out that night, instead of continuing the pilgrimage home. Being the driver, I had control of the pick. On my wish list for so long has been Canvas Resto-Bar on Holland. And so it was, that Canvas Resto-Bar became our impromptu dinner out last night.

It is cozy in size with about 32 seats at tables, 7 spots at the bar and a small outdoor patio that stayed empty last night.

The mister predictably had a Beau's LUGTREAD lagered ale and I did my standard Ottawa water routine. Like many places, we started with slices of baguette but with their added touch of chilled browned butter to complement. A great nutty flavour as it slowly softened over the warmth of the bread.

I started with pan-seared scallops. They were served with a foie gras emulsion and some fresh, fresh microgreen pea shoots. The presentation was inviting. Although they were a bit cool (and I can't blame that all on picture taking time), I quite enjoyed their creamy, sweet texture as they really were seared to perfection. I was left wanting more emulsion though.

My date went for the soup of the day, which was a mushroom soup with truffle oil and chives. Our thoughtful waiter also provided me with a spoon, in case I felt compelled to gain 'product knowledge'. The soup was fantastic. Although it was loosely puréed, I loved that they added back in so many pieces of mushroom, which came up aplenty with each skim.

I stayed on seafood for my main (probably all this rain was making me think of the ocean) and went for their signature seafood fettuccini. As you can see, it came with 6 mussels and 3 reasonably sized shrimp. With the richness of seafood, that amount served me well. Their fettuccini is homemade and thus so tender and delicate. The rosé sauce was laced with sautéed red and orange sweet bell peppers, as well as onions.

My mister was pretty happy with his British Columbia albacore tuna. Cooked to the appropriate doneness. The portion size seemed handsome to me. The fingerling potatoes were just potatoes, he said. He quite enjoyed the beets. However, the asparagus as just too woody. The splash of red wine vinaigrette kept it all bright-eyed. He made no comment on the crème fraiche, but I guess all was good since he continually applied it to the bites of tuna.

Of the four dishes, I would say the highlight was definitely the soup. As usual, when we do two courses, there never seems to be room for dessert. We didn't get a peek at the menu so we don't know what we were missing. Probably a safe thing.

The service was very attentive, and helpful with the details. He saw my indecision and handily convinced me of the seafood fettuccini. I liked that he waited until we had a taste of our food before offering us a spin on the pepper grinder.

By the time we left shortly after 7, the place had a couple of dozen people in it, which meant not a lot of spots left. I thought that wasn't bad for a rainy, drizzly Wednesday evening. Clearly a local following.

This place is easy to get to and it seems that street parking is readily available.

Overall, I enjoyed Canvas, though the interior isn't as polished as nearby, Allium or Wellington Gastropub - two top favourites for me in the area. It appears that the kitchen is well in hand and the neighbourhood is better for it.

Canvas Resto-Bar

65 Holland Avenue
Ottawa, Ontario

Sun: 10 - 2:30 pm; 5 - 9 pm
Mon to Wed: 11:30 to 2 pm; 5 - 9 pm
Thurs to Fri: 11:30 to 2 pm; 5 - 109 pm
Sat: 10 to 2:30 pm; 5 - 9 pm

Canvas Resto-Bar on Urbanspoon


  1. The climbing vine on the ceiling is from when Absinthe was in the location. Restaurateur Charles Beauregarde kept it. Did you see the yellow chair? There are now two. The original was a leftover from when Canvas opened. Charles decided he had had enough dark coloured chairs, so coloured one yellow for fun. My better half loves sitting in it.

    The decor is quaint for a little bistro, which is what was intended. The floor is a little worn, but come evening, the ambiance works.

    I'm glad you got to eat at me and Jenn's go to restaurant. The menu is especially good when local produce is in season. Love Charles.

  2. Okay, now I feel bad for missing the yellow chair since I did do a lot of staring about. We sat by the window on Holland and not quite near the front. You have tempted me to go back just to see the yellow chair! What if I actually sat in it and didn't notice. I think we are so lucky to have so many great restaurant choices in our neck of the woods. I did love the philodendron weaving through the pipes. Nice touch to keep it.


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